That, which and who

14 Sep

Many people think “that” and “which” are interchangeable (and we’ll get to “who” later), but they really are not.

As The Economist Style Guide explains, “that defines, which informs”. For example, in the sentence, “This is the house that I bought several years ago”, I am simply stating (defining) a fact, but if I were to say, “I bought this house, which was built in 1825, several years ago”, I am giving you additional information about my house. “Which” is introducing that additional information (a subsidiary clause) and subsidiary clauses usually have commas around them. If you’re unsure, check to see if the sentence you have written works with a comma before “which” (“This is the house, which I bought several years ago”, clearly does not.)

And now on to “who”. David Cameron was recently reported as saying, “It is this government who have cut the deficit”. Leaving aside whether one agrees with that statement or not, he should have said, “It is this government that has cut the deficit”: government is a singular entity, Mr Cameron, and it is a thing, not a person.

Today’s picture

I took this in Barcelona a few years ago, primarily for the lettering above the shop.Image

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: