Virginia W.

asked • 12/13/12

When do I use which or that in a sentence?

Someone please tell me the difference between which and that

16 Answers By Expert Tutors

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Rebecca A. answered • 12/13/12

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Vvvvvvvvv M.

Superb clarification. Well-put.
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11/01/21

Jeannine E.

Excellent response, very clear and comprehensible.
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04/06/22

Shelly H.

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I agree, but I say it differently: "Which" can be used to start a subordinate clause, but "that" is essential in the root of the sentence.
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04/12/22

Miss Chris S.

First and foremost, which and that are pronouns. The grammar rule: the pronoun takes the place of the noun in the independent clause: (We recently installed siding on our house) which-- takes the place of the noun-- house. was flooded last month. The pronoun-- That-- may be used but it is more informal unless it is being used as a relative pronoun to introduce a clause but not a person or people (who or whom.) There are exceptions. Yes, in restrictive and non-restrictive clauses we are concerned with using commas or not using commas according to the meaning. Example: The coat, I bought, is blue. The meaning is about the coat and not about who bought it. Therefore, the commas indicate the information is not necessary to the meaning.
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07/10/22

Maria L. answered • 04/16/15

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Holly W.

I agree that "which" can be used in both restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses, but "that" is only used in restrictive ones. In modern American English, I think "that" is much more commonly used, "which" is more formal and more likely used in writing. Also, "which" can refer to a whole idea in non-restrictive relative clauses, as in "He robbed a bank, which resulted in him serving five years in prison."
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07/17/20

Vvvvvvvvv M.

Thank you for the clarification! Very well-put.
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11/01/21

Julia H. answered • 04/12/20

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Vvvvvvvvv M.

This is pretty clever! 😄
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11/01/21

Andrew K. answered • 08/14/13

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Jonathan B. answered • 02/12/13

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Kayla S.

That's a great way to remember it Jonathan!

"A which is a ditch" -- Beautiful!

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08/13/13

Raychatu S. answered • 04/24/20

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Holly W.

In your examples you are using "that" as a demonstrative adjective and "which" as in interrogative. These are other parts of speech that "that" and "which" can be used as. Most of this discussion is related to using "that" and "which" as relative pronouns to introduce relative clauses.
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07/17/20

Suzanne S. answered • 11/26/19

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Taylah M. answered • 03/14/19

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