Which vs That
When do you use "which" and "that" in a sentence? Or are they interchangeable?
The cat that is black scared me.
The cat which is black scared me.
"That" and "which" are not interchangeable.
- Think of "which" as adding extra information; in this case, the fact that the cat is black is irrelevant, just extra information. Because "which" clauses add extra information, "which" clauses are enclosed in commas--appearing as a unit that could be removed from the sentence because its removal wouldn't hurt the meaning of the sentence. The cat, which is black, scared me. This means "The cat scared me," and the fact that it is black is irrelevant.
- Think of "that" clauses as ones that contain essential information. In the sentence "The cat that is black scared me" implies that an orange or white or calico cat does NOT scare me. Therefore, the cat being black is essential information; only black cats scare me. "That" clauses do NOT have commas.
|link comment||answered Jun 09 '13 at 04:12 Dr. G Contributor|
In this case "which" is used to add extra information about a noun "the cat." "Which" should be used because it is used in a non-identifying clause. "Which" should be used when refering to identified by name, shared knowledge or context. "That" is used when refering to a specific object. In this case if the black cat were part of a larger group of cats, it would be correct to say "The cat that is black scarred me." If you simply wanted to add a description fo the cat, it would be correct to say "The cat, which is black, scared me." Please note that the phrase should be sett off by commas when "which" is used.
|link comment||answered Jun 09 '13 at 03:41 RRS New member|
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