Posted by: Jack Henry | March 31, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Which Witch is Which?

This week, I think I’m going to share some random excerpts from The Grammar Devotional: Daily Tips for Successful Writing from Grammar Girl™, by Mignon Fogarty (p. 22).

Scram, Whiches: Which Versus That

I like to make choices simple: use that before a restrictive clause and which before everything else.

A restrictive clause can’t be eliminated; it restricts the noun.

Dogs that howl make me crazy.

That howl restricts the kind of dogs I mean. Without it, I’d be saying all dogs make me crazy, which isn’t true.

A nonrestrictive clause can be dropped without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Dogs, which have four legs, run fast.

All dogs run fast, so leaving out the words which have four legs doesn’t change the meaning of the sentence.

A tip (with apologies to Wiccans and Hermione Granger) is that you can always throw out the “whiches” and no harm will be done. If it would change the meaning to throw out the clause, you need a that.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

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  1. […] a request to explain the difference between that and which. Kara covered the topic previously (see Which Witch Is Which?), so now it’s my […]

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