Thursday, October 25, 2007

That and Which

Liza's question for me was about the difference between that and which. This question does not surprise me as that and which seem to have very similar uses. In fact, in many cases, they are used interchangeably.

The difference between the two is very slight. Which is used for a thing or an idea while that is used for any noun. It's more versatile; however, it is not as formal as which.

Dreams that/which come true are disturbing.
The book which/that you bought got wet.
The philosophy of Confusius, which is still unfamiliar to me, seems interesting.
The cat that we adopted is now very healthy.

The thing is, that and which are usually not used to refer to people. When we have a person or people in mind, we use who:

The student who cheated is not in the dean's office.
The girls who went to the party all had trendy dresses on.

Liza, I hope I managed to answer your question! If it's still not too clear, ask away.

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