‘Which’ and ‘that’ seem like the most common words from our personal dictionary, and we use it an umpteen number of times in a day. But did you know, so many of us aren’t using them in an intended manner? Read on to answer the question, ‘Are you using ‘which’ and ‘that’ correctly?
It is significant that you understand the meaning of Defining Clause and non-defining clause before we move ahead. You cannot use these words in question until you know more about these clauses.
Much like the name suggests, this clause takes the burden on the entire sentence. It adds more meaning to a sentence, and the information it carries is essential. You can also call this an Essential Clause or Restrictive Clause. Now if you want to use the word ‘that’, then it needs to be in a defining clause. Let’s break this down:
My tooth that has a cavity is keeping me in a lot of pain.
The above sentence establishes two things:
- It shows that the speaker is talking about one particular tooth, which goes to say that he/she has more than one tooth (which is obvious). In this scenario, the speaker is referring only to the tooth that has a cavity, and not the others.
- If you remove the clause ‘that has a cavity’, which is the defining clause, it would be a simple sentence. This part defined the sentence and added more meaning to it.
You can relate to a non-defining clause with ease if you think of it as something that can be thrashed. Think of it as the cache on your mobile or your software. It is unwanted, and your device should do without it. This is why they are also called nonessential clauses or nonrestrictive clauses. In this situation, you can use the word ‘which’. Let’s dig deeper into this:
My car, which has a dent, is at the mechanic’s place.
What does the above example tell you?
- The phrase ‘which has a dent’ is adding a description to the car. Go back to the definition, this is like cache. The meaning of this sentence wouldn’t change even if you remove it.
- The sentence doesn’t imply that the person could have more than one car. Of course, it adds more flavor to the essence of the sentence, but we can do without it.
Doesn’t it all seem much easier now that you know their apt placements and use? Let me leave you with a few more sentences. Read them a couple of times, alter them using the above explanation, and triumph in the use of these relative pronouns,’which’ and ‘that. It might take some time to perfect the use, but once you do, it will be helpful for life!
- The water ________ I drank last night contained a lot of sodium.
- The last movie _____ we went to see was ‘The Box Trolls’.
- There are traditionally seven colors _____ make up a rainbow.
- On the wall, I keep the racket _____ I used to win the school’s tennis tournament.
- I wrote down everything important in my notebook, _____ is blue and wide-ruled.
If you could solve the above questions, then here’s where you can be sure if you got the answers right.
- The water which I drank last night contained a lot of sodium.
- The last movie that we went to see was ‘The Box Trolls’.
- There are traditionally seven colors that make up a rainbow.
- On the wall, I keep the racket that I used to win the school’s tennis tournament.
- I wrote down everything important in my notebook, which is blue and wide-ruled.
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