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Usage Glossary: A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y

that/which/who

In general, who refers to people, and that andwhich refer to animals and things. That mayalso be used to refer to an anonymous group of people ("I want tocontribute to a group that saves dolphins").


Professor Thomas, who has taught at theuniversity for forty years, is also a ranger at the local statepark.

The whale that swam into the bay wassuccessfully returned to the ocean.

The plane, which flew at an altitude of 30,000feet, arrived in only 7 hours.


That is used only with restrictiveclauses, and which can be used with either restrictiveor nonrestrictive clauses, although somewriters prefer to use it only with nonrestrictive elements.


A factory that does not take care of itswaste stream may violate environmental laws. [restrictive]

After Suzanne left the factory, which isone of the most polluted Superfund sites in the country, she ranfor Congress. [nonrestrictive]


See also who/whom.

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