That vs. which

From The Jolly Contrarian
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Towards more picturesque speech

George Orwell on plain English | SEC guidance on plain English Plain English Anatomy Noun | Verb | Adjective | Adverb | Preposition | Conjunction | Latin | Germany | Flannel | Legal triplicate | Nominalisation | Murder your darlings

Index — Click ᐅ to expand:

Get in touch
Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Requests? Sign up for our newsletter? Questions? We’d love to hear from you.
BREAKING: Get the new weekly newsletter here Old editions here

That /ðət/ (Conj.)
Which /wɪʧ/ (conj.)

That is a conjunction introducing a restrictive subordinate clause:

“I fed the cat that sat on the mat.” [implied: ... and I let the other one, which sat in the armchair, go hungry].

Which, by contrast, is a conjunction introducing a non-restrictive subordinate clause:

“The cat, which sat on the mat, had halitosis.” [Its halitosis was not contingent on its location mat-wise; indeed there could be an entirely distinct minty-breathed moggy sitting on the same mat, for all we know.]

Lesson: Get a dog.

See also