Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

Re: [Czechlist] which : that

Expand Messages
  • Michael Trittipo
    ... Great explanation. Fully agree. Me, too ing just in case it helps anyone to know there s consensus.
    Message 1 of 6 , Jul 9, 2002
      JPKIRCHNER@... wrote:

      > (1) I had a quick look at the text that looks just fine to me.
      >
      >This sentence means that there are two or more texts, and you are talking
      >about the particular one that looks fine to you. The others don't look fine.
      >
      >
      > (2) I had a quick look at the text, which looks just fine to me.
      >
      >In this version (with "which" and a comma) you are talking about only one
      >text, and by the way, it looks fine to you.
      >

      Great explanation. Fully agree. "Me, too'ing" just in case it helps
      anyone to know there's consensus.
    • melvyn.geo
      ... little strange, even though it would be correct. Yes, which is a correct alternative in such defining clauses and yet it does often sound odd and I find
      Message 2 of 6 , Jul 9, 2002
        Jamie wrote:

        > (1) I had a quick look at the text that looks just fine to me.


        >You could use "which" here instead of "that", but it would sound a
        little strange, even though it would be correct.

        Yes, "which" is a correct alternative in such defining clauses and yet
        it does often sound odd and I find it tantalizing trying to figure out
        why...

        As you say, it could be because of the potential confusion with
        non-defining clauses. I'd say it can sound over-deliberate in many
        informal contexts but elsewhere it can sound OK. This is my theory:

        a) Rightly or wrongly, "which" is perceived by many to be "higher
        style" and so preferable (even in defining relative clauses, Fowler
        notwithstanding) in legal and formal business texts.

        b) "Which" is felt to convey discernment and deliberation. It is often
        preferred in situations where choices are to be made: "Select the
        pension plan which best suits your needs...." It is also
        sometimes preferred when we wish to underline the fact that we are
        specifying something.

        Does this sound plausible? I'd welcome any alternative theories.

        The following is from Michael Quinion's World Wide Words site:

        There remain some situations in which "that" is still regarded as
        preferable to "which", though they're difficult to tie down. Here are
        some instances, but don't take them as a full list of cases, and they
        are tendencies, not full-blown rules:

        In clauses that follow impersonal constructions, such as it is, "that"
        is preferred: "It was the dog that died".

        Clauses which refer back to the words anything, nothing, something, or
        everything have a slight preference for "that" over
        "which": "Can you think of anything that still has to be done?"

        Clauses which follow a superlative also tend to prefer "that": "Thank
        you for the most superb dinner that I've ever eaten".

        In part, it seems probable that this preference is derived from stress
        and rhythm. The word "that" contains 'soft' sounds and is usually
        unstressed, whilst "which" contains a 'harder' initial sound and is
        easier to stress. Several writers note that "that" tends to be
        preferred in speech, which may be due to the comparative ease with
        which "that is" and similar phrases can be contracted, to "that's",
        compared with the equivalent expressions using "which".

        If you wish to write naturally, don't fuss too much about the usage of
        "that" versus "which". Obsessive correction (what has sarcastically
        been called a "which hunt") is best avoided. If your sense of the
        language is not strong enough to be sure of the right pronoun, use
        that for the restrictive cases and which for the others and you won't
        go wrong.

        M.

        She's the sort of woman who lives for others - you can always tell the
        others by their hunted expression. - C. S. Lewis
      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.