If you’re puzzled about whether to use which or that, don’t panic!
It’s really not too hard if you remember these two types of clause: Nonrestrictive Clauses and Restrictive Clauses.
A nonrestrictive clause can be eliminated from a sentence without losing the basic meaning of the sentence. We should use the word ‘which’ for these types of clauses. Non-restrictive clauses will be set apart from the rest of the sentence by dashes, commas, or parentheses as in these three examples:
- The watch–which had been in her family for over sixty years–was stolen.
- Jamie’s kite, which was blue and green, was flying high in the sky.
- Tiffany’s graduation speech (which had caused a great deal of controversy at the commencement ceremony) was printed in the local paper.
Try reading the sentences without the non-restrictive clauses.
Is the basic message of each sentence the same?
A restrictive clause is a clause that is vital to the meaning of the sentence. Don’t even try to take these clauses out of the sentence unless you really want to change the meaning! We use the word ‘that’ to mark these types of clauses.
Because restrictive clauses are vital to sentences, they will not be set apart with punctuation as shown in these examples. After you have read the sentences, go back and circle the clauses (the part that begins with ‘that’). If you read what’s left of the sentences, you can see that much of the meaning has been lost or changed. For Example:
- The dog that is running down the street is mine.
- The watch that my mother bought me for my birthday is my favorite watch!
- The tests that I have studied for usually go really well.
We learnt something new today…pretty cool, eh?
Now it’s your chance to practice the new grammar knowledge you’ve gained!
Fill in the blanks with either which or that depending on the sentence. Good luck!
1. Down by the mall there is a store ______reminds me of the store by Missy’s house.
2. We walked through the entire store ( ______ sold all kinds of kid’s toys) just to see Santa.
3. She saw the movie ______ had recently been released with a group of her friends.
4. India is a country ______ I would like to visit someday.
5. Frankenstein, _______ was written by Mary Shelley when she was only seventeen, touches upon many issues that are relevant in our modern society.
6. When we were driving to John’s house, we saw the accident _____ had held up traffic on the freeway.
7. I jogged every morning around the park ______ had the goat statue.
8. Maggie worried that she had forgotten to pay her phone bill _____ was due yesterday.
9. Bobby and Ryan were raising money for the new equipment, _______ included new balls and bats as well as new uniforms.
10. We awaited the arrival of the books _____ we had ordered online.
1. that, 2. which, 3. that, 4. that, 5. which, 6. that, 7. that, 8. that, 9. which, 10 that.