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Which vs That Examples: Understanding the Difference

Overview of Which and That

When it comes to using “which” and “that” in a sentence, many people find it challenging to know which one to use. Both words can be used to introduce clauses that provide additional information about a noun or pronoun, but they are used in different ways.

“Which” is often used in non-restrictive clauses, which means that the information provided is not essential to the meaning of the sentence. Non-restrictive clauses are usually separated by commas, and the sentence would still make sense if the clause was removed.

“That” is often used in restrictive clauses, which means that the information provided is essential to the meaning of the sentence. Restrictive clauses are not separated by commas, and the sentence would be incomplete or have a different meaning if the clause was removed.

Understanding when to use “which” and “that” can help you write clearer and more effective sentences. In the following sections, we will discuss how to use each word correctly and provide examples to illustrate their usage.

Using Which in Non-Restrictive Clauses

“Which” is often used to introduce non-restrictive clauses, which provide additional information about a noun or pronoun in a sentence. Non-restrictive clauses are usually separated by commas and can be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Here are some examples of how to use “which” in non-restrictive clauses:

  • My car, which is blue, is parked in the garage. (The information provided in the clause is not essential to the meaning of the sentence.)
  • The book, which was written by my favorite author, is on the bestseller list. (The information provided in the clause is not essential to the meaning of the sentence.)

Note that non-restrictive clauses are sometimes set off by parentheses or dashes instead of commas, depending on the writer’s preference or the context of the sentence.

Using “which” correctly in non-restrictive clauses can help you provide additional information without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Using That in Restrictive Clauses

“That” is often used to introduce restrictive clauses, which provide essential information about a noun or pronoun in a sentence. Restrictive clauses are not separated by commas and cannot be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Here are some examples of how to use “that” in restrictive clauses:

  • The car that is parked in the garage is blue. (The information provided in the clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence.)
  • The book that I borrowed from the library was overdue. (The information provided in the clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence.)

Note that in some cases, “that” can be omitted from a restrictive clause without changing the meaning of the sentence. However, it is generally safer to include it to avoid confusion or ambiguity.

Using “that” correctly in restrictive clauses can help you provide essential information that clarifies the meaning of the sentence.

Common Errors to Avoid

Using “which” and “that” correctly can be challenging, and there are some common errors to avoid. Here are a few:

  1. Using “which” in a restrictive clause: This is a common error that can lead to confusion. Remember that “which” is used in non-restrictive clauses and should not be used to introduce essential information.

  2. Using “that” in a non-restrictive clause: While “that” can technically be used in non-restrictive clauses, it is not as common as “which.” Using “that” in a non-restrictive clause can sound awkward or confusing.

  3. Using commas incorrectly: Commas are used to separate non-restrictive clauses, but they should not be used to separate restrictive clauses. Using commas incorrectly can change the meaning of the sentence.

  4. Omitting “that” in a restrictive clause: While “that” can sometimes be omitted from a restrictive clause, it is generally safer to include it to avoid confusion or ambiguity.

By avoiding these common errors, you can ensure that your use of “which” and “that” is clear and effective.

Practice Exercises to Improve Your Understanding

To improve your understanding of how to use “which” and “that” correctly, you can practice identifying the type of clause used in a sentence and choosing the correct word to use. Here are some exercises to help you practice:

  1. Identify whether the following clauses are restrictive or non-restrictive:
  • The car, which is parked in the garage, is blue.
  • The car that is parked in the garage is blue.
  • The book, which I borrowed from the library, was overdue.
  • The book that I borrowed from the library was overdue.
  1. Choose the correct word to use in the following sentences:
  • The house _____ I grew up in was sold. (which/that)
  • The movie _____ we saw last night was really good. (which/that)
  • The project _____ is due next week is almost finished. (which/that)
  • The restaurant _____ we went to for dinner was very crowded. (which/that)

By practicing these exercises, you can become more confident in your ability to use “which” and “that” correctly in your writing.

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