Discussion:
Which/that
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Peter Percival
2017-12-01 00:11:08 UTC
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X, which has something in common with Y,...

or

X, that has something in common with Y,...

?
--
Do, as a concession to my poor wits, Lord Darlington, just explain
to me what you really mean.
I think I had better not, Duchess. Nowadays to be intelligible is
to be found out. -- Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan
Peter T. Daniels
2017-12-01 04:10:46 UTC
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Post by Peter Percival
X, which has something in common with Y,...
or
X, that has something in common with Y,...
?
Because it is a non-restrictive clause, "which."

(It doesn't work both ways. It's ok to use "which" in a restrictive clause also.)
Paul Carmichael
2017-12-01 10:07:39 UTC
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    X, which has something in common with Y,...
or
    X, that has something in common with Y,...
?
I think I only use "which" when asking "which one is yours", "I don't know which way to
go" (comparing?) etc. Not 100% sure though. I don't know why, but I find it an ugly word.

For the above, I would definitely use "that".
--
Paul.

https://paulc.es/
https://asetrad.org
Peter T. Daniels
2017-12-01 13:43:08 UTC
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Post by Paul Carmichael
    X, which has something in common with Y,...
or
    X, that has something in common with Y,...
?
I think I only use "which" when asking "which one is yours", "I don't know which way to
go" (comparing?) etc. Not 100% sure though. I don't know why, but I find it an ugly word.
For the above, I would definitely use "that".
Did you miss the commas? It is a non-restrictive clause.
Paul Carmichael
2017-12-01 15:16:59 UTC
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Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Paul Carmichael
    X, which has something in common with Y,...
or
    X, that has something in common with Y,...
?
I think I only use "which" when asking "which one is yours", "I don't know which way to
go" (comparing?) etc. Not 100% sure though. I don't know why, but I find it an ugly word.
For the above, I would definitely use "that".
Did you miss the commas? It is a non-restrictive clause.
I know. And? Not generally used? Best avoided? Who says?

I typed a long response and got all in a muddle, so deleted it. For me, there are times
when one sounds better than the other. If he were comparing X with something else, I'd use
which. It's all starting to sound Chinese now.
--
Paul.

https://paulc.es/
https://asetrad.org
Peter T. Daniels
2017-12-01 15:54:44 UTC
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Post by Paul Carmichael
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Paul Carmichael
    X, which has something in common with Y,...
or
    X, that has something in common with Y,...
?
I think I only use "which" when asking "which one is yours", "I don't know which way to
go" (comparing?) etc. Not 100% sure though. I don't know why, but I find it an ugly word.
For the above, I would definitely use "that".
Did you miss the commas? It is a non-restrictive clause.
I know. And? Not generally used? Best avoided? Who says?
Several centuries at least of English usage (and not Fowlerian prescriptions)
say that "which" and not "that" is used in non-restrictive relative clauses.
If the clause can be omitted without making nonsense of the sentence as a
whole, then it's non-restrictive.

Prescriptivists tried to make the opposite case, but it isn't true that "which"
can't be used in restrictive relative clauses.
Post by Paul Carmichael
I typed a long response and got all in a muddle, so deleted it. For me, there are times
when one sounds better than the other. If he were comparing X with something else, I'd use
which. It's all starting to sound Chinese now.
An example of what you mean by comparing X with something else?
Paul Carmichael
2017-12-01 16:40:41 UTC
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Post by Peter T. Daniels
Several centuries at least of English usage (and not Fowlerian prescriptions)
say that "which" and not "that" is used in non-restrictive relative clauses.
If the clause can be omitted without making nonsense of the sentence as a
whole, then it's non-restrictive.
I know what non restrictive means.

"Which" to me is used to identify something from a group.

Leaving the clause out for a moment, I don't think "Do you have a tie which goes with that
shirt" sounds right at all. "Which" to me is like an index into an array. "which of these
ties goes with the shirt?".

Anyway, must dash. Got 18,000 words to revise. I'll look out for non restrictive clauses.
Also someone just booked my holiday home so have to go and get that ready.
--
Paul.

https://paulc.es/
https://asetrad.org
Peter T. Daniels
2017-12-01 19:46:54 UTC
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Post by Paul Carmichael
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Several centuries at least of English usage (and not Fowlerian prescriptions)
say that "which" and not "that" is used in non-restrictive relative clauses.
If the clause can be omitted without making nonsense of the sentence as a
whole, then it's non-restrictive.
I know what non restrictive means.
"Which" to me is used to identify something from a group.
Leaving the clause out for a moment, I don't think "Do you have a tie which goes with that
shirt" sounds right at all.
Many people agree with you. They use "that" there.
Post by Paul Carmichael
"Which" to me is like an index into an array. "which of these
ties goes with the shirt?".
The interrogative pronoun has no bearing on the matter.
Post by Paul Carmichael
Anyway, must dash. Got 18,000 words to revise. I'll look out for non restrictive clauses.
Also someone just booked my holiday home so have to go and get that ready.
Renting from you, or set up a place for you to visit on vacation?
Reinhold {Rey} Aman
2017-12-02 00:19:31 UTC
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Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Paul Carmichael
Also someone just booked my holiday home so have to go and get that ready.
Renting from you, or set up a place for you to visit on vacation?
"Are you really so stupid" (PeteY-TM) that you don't understand simple English?

¡Ay, que pendejo enculado!

See the baiting attention-whore:
Loading Image...
--
~~~ Reinhold {Rey} Aman ~~~
Ross
2017-12-02 10:37:20 UTC
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Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Paul Carmichael
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Paul Carmichael
    X, which has something in common with Y,...
or
    X, that has something in common with Y,...
?
I think I only use "which" when asking "which one is yours", "I don't know which way to
go" (comparing?) etc. Not 100% sure though. I don't know why, but I find it an ugly word.
For the above, I would definitely use "that".
Did you miss the commas? It is a non-restrictive clause.
I know. And? Not generally used? Best avoided? Who says?
Several centuries at least of English usage (and not Fowlerian prescriptions)
say that "which" and not "that" is used in non-restrictive relative clauses.
As long as we understand "usage" to refer to a tendency rather than
an absolute; and "several centuries at least" to mean "possibly as few as
two". When this last came up a few months ago, I mentioned that these non-restrictive "that"s did not sound odd or archaic to me. Jespersen refers to "the old use of _that_ in decidedly non-restrictive clauses", and has no examples later than Fielding. They're tricky to search for, but I've found several 19th century examples, and even one from this century. Rather than
repeat the two I gave in April, here's another:

The waters of the Nile, that now rush impetuously at certain seasons
with overwhelming violence, while at other seasons they are exhausted,
might be so controlled that they should never be in excess...
- Baker, The Nile Tributaries of Abysinnia (1871)
Peter T. Daniels
2017-12-02 12:33:05 UTC
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Post by Ross
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Paul Carmichael
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Paul Carmichael
    X, which has something in common with Y,...
or
    X, that has something in common with Y,...
?
I think I only use "which" when asking "which one is yours", "I don't know which way to
go" (comparing?) etc. Not 100% sure though. I don't know why, but I find it an ugly word.
For the above, I would definitely use "that".
Did you miss the commas? It is a non-restrictive clause.
I know. And? Not generally used? Best avoided? Who says?
Several centuries at least of English usage (and not Fowlerian prescriptions)
say that "which" and not "that" is used in non-restrictive relative clauses.
As long as we understand "usage" to refer to a tendency rather than
an absolute; and "several centuries at least" to mean "possibly as few as
two". When this last came up a few months ago, I mentioned that these non-restrictive "that"s did not sound odd or archaic to me. Jespersen refers to "the old use of _that_ in decidedly non-restrictive clauses", and has no examples later than Fielding. They're tricky to search for, but I've found several 19th century examples, and even one from this century. Rather than
The waters of the Nile, that now rush impetuously at certain seasons
with overwhelming violence, while at other seasons they are exhausted,
might be so controlled that they should never be in excess...
- Baker, The Nile Tributaries of Abysinnia (1871)
The very fact that you had to search diligently to find even a few examples
shows how unusual the usage is.

Finding "which" used restrictively, however, would present no such difficulty.

Unless, of course, you still think investigating English usage is a "gotcha"
operation, and the only purpose of my pointing out patterns of usage is so
that you can find exceptions.
Ross
2017-12-02 22:10:06 UTC
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Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Ross
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Paul Carmichael
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Paul Carmichael
    X, which has something in common with Y,...
or
    X, that has something in common with Y,...
?
I think I only use "which" when asking "which one is yours", "I don't know which way to
go" (comparing?) etc. Not 100% sure though. I don't know why, but I find it an ugly word.
For the above, I would definitely use "that".
Did you miss the commas? It is a non-restrictive clause.
I know. And? Not generally used? Best avoided? Who says?
Several centuries at least of English usage (and not Fowlerian prescriptions)
say that "which" and not "that" is used in non-restrictive relative clauses.
As long as we understand "usage" to refer to a tendency rather than
an absolute; and "several centuries at least" to mean "possibly as few as
two". When this last came up a few months ago, I mentioned that these non-restrictive "that"s did not sound odd or archaic to me. Jespersen refers to "the old use of _that_ in decidedly non-restrictive clauses", and has no examples later than Fielding. They're tricky to search for, but I've found several 19th century examples, and even one from this century. Rather than
The waters of the Nile, that now rush impetuously at certain seasons
with overwhelming violence, while at other seasons they are exhausted,
might be so controlled that they should never be in excess...
- Baker, The Nile Tributaries of Abysinnia (1871)
The very fact that you had to search diligently to find even a few examples
shows how unusual the usage is.
Not common. But as I said, the examples did not strike me (a native
speaker) as unusual or old-fashioned, let alone "wrong".
And part of the search difficulty is just in looking for a grammatical configuration -- as opposed to a particular word or phrase -- in raw,
untagged text.
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Finding "which" used restrictively, however, would present no such difficulty.
Unless, of course, you still think investigating English usage is a "gotcha"
operation, and the only purpose of my pointing out patterns of usage is so
that you can find exceptions.
No, that seems to be your idea.
As far as advice to the perplexed is concerned, sure, give them the rule:
Don't use "that" with non-restrictives and nobody will fault you.
But I thought you rather over-stated the historical facts in your justification.
David Kleinecke
2017-12-02 23:08:15 UTC
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Post by Ross
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Ross
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Paul Carmichael
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Paul Carmichael
    X, which has something in common with Y,...
or
    X, that has something in common with Y,...
?
I think I only use "which" when asking "which one is yours", "I don't know which way to
go" (comparing?) etc. Not 100% sure though. I don't know why, but I find it an ugly word.
For the above, I would definitely use "that".
Did you miss the commas? It is a non-restrictive clause.
I know. And? Not generally used? Best avoided? Who says?
Several centuries at least of English usage (and not Fowlerian prescriptions)
say that "which" and not "that" is used in non-restrictive relative clauses.
As long as we understand "usage" to refer to a tendency rather than
an absolute; and "several centuries at least" to mean "possibly as few as
two". When this last came up a few months ago, I mentioned that these non-restrictive "that"s did not sound odd or archaic to me. Jespersen refers to "the old use of _that_ in decidedly non-restrictive clauses", and has no examples later than Fielding. They're tricky to search for, but I've found several 19th century examples, and even one from this century. Rather than
The waters of the Nile, that now rush impetuously at certain seasons
with overwhelming violence, while at other seasons they are exhausted,
might be so controlled that they should never be in excess...
- Baker, The Nile Tributaries of Abysinnia (1871)
The very fact that you had to search diligently to find even a few examples
shows how unusual the usage is.
Not common. But as I said, the examples did not strike me (a native
speaker) as unusual or old-fashioned, let alone "wrong".
And part of the search difficulty is just in looking for a grammatical configuration -- as opposed to a particular word or phrase -- in raw,
untagged text.
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Finding "which" used restrictively, however, would present no such difficulty.
Unless, of course, you still think investigating English usage is a "gotcha"
operation, and the only purpose of my pointing out patterns of usage is so
that you can find exceptions.
No, that seems to be your idea.
Don't use "that" with non-restrictives and nobody will fault you.
But I thought you rather over-stated the historical facts in your justification.
I could be wrong - but I think I do not make a restrictive
versus nonrestrictive distinction in my speech. I feel that,
for me, "which" (in this location) is only an occasionally
used optional variant of "that". But I am not the best
possible observer of my own speech.
Peter Moylan
2017-12-02 23:28:28 UTC
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Post by David Kleinecke
I could be wrong - but I think I do not make a restrictive
versus nonrestrictive distinction in my speech. I feel that,
for me, "which" (in this location) is only an occasionally
used optional variant of "that". But I am not the best
possible observer of my own speech.
I have the impression that the choice of "which" vs "that" to define the
difference between restrictive vs nonrestrictive is mostly an AmE rule.
For me, the commas are what define the difference.

The way in which I use "which" and "that" probably conforms most of the
time to the way AmE uses them, but I have at least some tendency to use
elegant variation in the choice between these two near-synonyms.
--
Peter Moylan http://www.pmoylan.org
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Peter T. Daniels
2017-12-02 23:59:08 UTC
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Post by Peter Moylan
Post by David Kleinecke
I could be wrong - but I think I do not make a restrictive
versus nonrestrictive distinction in my speech. I feel that,
for me, "which" (in this location) is only an occasionally
used optional variant of "that". But I am not the best
possible observer of my own speech.
I have the impression that the choice of "which" vs "that" to define the
difference between restrictive vs nonrestrictive is mostly an AmE rule.
Straight out of Fowler.
Post by Peter Moylan
For me, the commas are what define the difference.
The spoken language preceded commas by some time.
Post by Peter Moylan
The way in which I use "which" and "that" probably conforms most of the
time to the way AmE uses them, but I have at least some tendency to use
elegant variation in the choice between these two near-synonyms.
Peter Moylan
2017-12-03 04:12:04 UTC
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Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Moylan
Post by David Kleinecke
I could be wrong - but I think I do not make a restrictive
versus nonrestrictive distinction in my speech. I feel that,
for me, "which" (in this location) is only an occasionally
used optional variant of "that". But I am not the best
possible observer of my own speech.
I have the impression that the choice of "which" vs "that" to define the
difference between restrictive vs nonrestrictive is mostly an AmE rule.
Straight out of Fowler.
Post by Peter Moylan
For me, the commas are what define the difference.
The spoken language preceded commas by some time.
Change "commas" to "pauses" if that's a concern. But, as it happens,
commas had already been invented by the time I went to school.
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Moylan
The way in which I use "which" and "that" probably conforms most of the
time to the way AmE uses them, but I have at least some tendency to use
elegant variation in the choice between these two near-synonyms.
--
Peter Moylan http://www.pmoylan.org
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Peter T. Daniels
2017-12-03 13:19:32 UTC
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Post by Peter Moylan
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Moylan
Post by David Kleinecke
I could be wrong - but I think I do not make a restrictive
versus nonrestrictive distinction in my speech. I feel that,
for me, "which" (in this location) is only an occasionally
used optional variant of "that". But I am not the best
possible observer of my own speech.
I have the impression that the choice of "which" vs "that" to define the
difference between restrictive vs nonrestrictive is mostly an AmE rule.
Straight out of Fowler.
Post by Peter Moylan
For me, the commas are what define the difference.
The spoken language preceded commas by some time.
Change "commas" to "pauses" if that's a concern. But, as it happens,
commas had already been invented by the time I went to school.
Nonrestrictive relatives are relatively uncommon in speech; they would seem to be a feature of
Written English that is occasionally imitated in attempts at high style. Other European languages
don't have such a distinction and how to punctuate English relative clauses often remains a mystery
to their speakers.
Post by Peter Moylan
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Moylan
The way in which I use "which" and "that" probably conforms most of the
time to the way AmE uses them, but I have at least some tendency to use
elegant variation in the choice between these two near-synonyms.
"Elegant variation" is Fowler's term of opprobrium for needless alternation of (near) synonyms
in a particular discourse.

Jerry Friedman
2017-12-02 23:22:18 UTC
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...
Post by Ross
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Several centuries at least of English usage (and not Fowlerian prescriptions)
say that "which" and not "that" is used in non-restrictive relative clauses.
As long as we understand "usage" to refer to a tendency rather than
an absolute; and "several centuries at least" to mean "possibly as few as
two". When this last came up a few months ago, I mentioned that these non-restrictive "that"s did not sound odd or archaic to me. Jespersen refers to "the old use of _that_ in decidedly non-restrictive clauses", and has no examples later than Fielding. They're tricky to search for, but I've found several 19th century examples, and even one from this century.
...

Oh, yes. You might look at the work of the journalist Louise Gray.
Tolkien does it too, by the way.

My feeling is that non-restrictive "that" is more common in Britain than
the U.S., but I have no data.
--
Jerry Friedman
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