Monday, September 14, 2009

Grammar on the Porch #2

Is it just me, or do high school English classes slide further and further away with every year? Thank goodness I have "Grammar on the Porch". Good old Grammar loves to visit The Letterbug from time to time for a nice cup of tea and a natter about the English language. She knows we know - really she does. But just in case...

Image kindly supplied by Toni Grote - visit to see more of her beautiful artwork

That vs. Which

Now then dears, it seems to be that some folks get mixed up when it comes to that vs which. Using these words in some circumstances is straight forward and needs no explanation, but in other circumstances it can be ever so confusing. Let me sort it out for you dear.


That introduces essential clauses while which introduces nonessential clauses.


  • I do not trust aerobics classes that claim "Suitable for all ages" because they are often most unsuitable for Grammar (89 years old).

We would not know which aerobics classes were being discussed without the that clause.

  • The aerobics class claiming "suitable for all ages," which appeared in the local newspaper, is on today.

The product is already identified. Therefore, which begins a nonessential clause.

Essential clauses do not have commas surrounding them while nonessential clauses are surrounded by commas.


If this, that, these, or those has already introduced an essential clause, you may use which to introduce the next clause, whether it is essential or nonessential.


  • That is a moment which you will cherish for the rest of your life.

  • Those potatoes, which we've boiled already, do not need to be roasted quite as long.

Often, you can streamline your sentence by leaving out which.


  • That is a moment which you will cherish for the rest of your life.


  • That is a moment you will cherish for the rest of your life.
Oooh, now doesn't all that talk about words make you thirsty? I fancy an Earl Grey with just a drop of milk thank you dear. No, no sugar - its the ruin of all the great leaf beverages you know. But that's another story....

1 comment:

  1. last time I commented that my husband needed the help....perhaps it's also me!!!!!
    thanks Grammar


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