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Who, That, Which

Rule 1: Who and sometimes that refer to people. That and which refer to groups or things.
Examples:
Anya is the one who rescued the bird.
"The Man That Got Away" is a great song with a grammatical title.
Lokua is on the team that won first place.
She belongs to a great organization, which specializes in saving endangered species.
Rule 2a. That introduces what is called an essential clause (also known as a restrictive or
defining clause). Essential clauses add information that is vital to the point of the sentence.
Example: I do not trust products that claim "all natural ingredients" because this phrase can
mean almost anything.
We would not know the type of products being discussed without the that clause.
Rule 2b. Which introduces a nonessential clause (also known as a nonrestrictive or
nondefining clause), which adds supplementary information.
Example: The product claiming "all natural ingredients," which appeared in the Sunday
newspaper, is on sale.
The product is already identified. Therefore, which appeared in the Sunday newspaper is a
nonessential clause containing additional, but not essential, information.
NOTE
Essential clauses do not have commas introducing or surrounding them, whereas
nonessential clauses are introduced or surrounded by commas.
Rule 3. If that has already appeared in a sentence, writers sometimes use which to
introduce the next clause, whether it is essential or nonessential. This is done to avoid
awkward formations.
Example: That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
This sentence is far preferable to the ungainly but technically correct That that doesn't kill
you makes you stronger.
NOTE
The distinction between that and which, though a useful guideline, is not universally
accepted as a hard-and-fast rule. For many centuries and up to the present, which has been
routinely used by great writers and journalists to introduce essential clauses.

For each of the following, choose the correct sentence.


NOTE: This is one of a series of quizzes based on guidelines endorsing that for restrictive
clauses and which for non-restrictive clauses. These principles, first put forward in the
1920s, are widely taught in America by traditional English instructors, but are not necessarily
the practice of all writers and editors.
1.

2.

3.

4.

A)

Ahmed is the skydiver, that broke his back last week.

B)

Ahmed is the skydiver whom broke his back last week.

C)

Ahmed is the skydiver who broke his back last week.

D)

Ahmed is the skydiver which broke his back last week.

A)

Here is a problem who cant be solved without a calculator.

B)

Here is a problem that cant be solved without a calculator.

C)

Here is a problem which cant be solved without a calculator.

D)

Here is a problem whom cant be solved without a calculator.

A)

We have a city council who takes care of business.

B)

We have a city council which takes care of business.

C)

We have a city council that takes care of business.

A)

The domino theory, who stated that when one country fell to communism,

others in the area would likely fall, was used as an argument to continue the
Vietnam War.
B)

The domino theory, that stated that when one country fell to communism,
others in the area would likely fall, was used as an argument to continue the
Vietnam War.

C)

The domino theory, which stated that when one country fell to communism,
others in the area would likely fall, was used as an argument to continue the
Vietnam War.

D)

The domino theory, whom stated that when one country fell to communism,
others in the area would likely fall, was used as an argument to continue the
Vietnam War.

5.

A)

Shes the kind of person that expects everything to be perfect.

B)

Shes the kind of person who expects everything to be perfect.

C)

Both A and B are correct.

6.

A)

Gandhi, whom was a role model for nonviolence to millions, was


assassinated.

B)

Gandhi, who was a role model for nonviolence to millions, was assassinated.

C)

Gandhi, that was a role model for nonviolence to millions, was assassinated.

D)

Gandhi, which was a role model for nonviolence to millions, was


assassinated.

7.

8.

A)

The tomatoes that grow in her garden are unlike those you buy in a store.

B)

The tomatoes, that grow in her garden, are unlike those you buy in a store.

C)

The tomatoes which grow in her garden are unlike those you buy in a store.

A)

The tomatoes from her garden, that grew larger than those in the grocery
store, were sweet and ripe.

B)

The tomatoes from her garden which grew larger than those in the grocery
store, were sweet and ripe.

C)

The tomatoes from her garden, which grew larger than those in the grocery
store, were sweet and ripe.

9.

10.

A)

The baker which baked that bread should win an award.

B)

The baker whom baked that bread should win an award.

C)

The baker, that baked that bread, should win an award.

D)

The baker who baked that bread should win an award.

A)

She is someone, that I care about.

B)

She is someone, who I care about.

C)

She is someone, whom I care about.

D)

She is someone whom I care about