Tag Archives: which

The Grammar Factor – who and that, typos, grammar jargon

Who and that
I have always thought that we should use who for people and that for things. I knew there were exceptions, such as if you were talking about a group of people.

Tradespeople that don’t turn up on time are infuriating.

But doing some further research, I had my golden rule busted. Apparently, many writers have been using who and that interchangeably since Chaucer’s days.

The American Heritage Dictionary says:

‘There is a widespread belief, sometimes taught as correct usage, that only who and not that should be used to introduce a restrictive relative clause identifying a person. But that has been used in this way for centuries, going back to the Old English period, and has been used by the finest writers in English, as in “The man that once did sell the lion’s skin / While the beast liv’d, was kill’d with hunting him” (Shakespeare) and “Scatter thou the people that delight in war” (King James Bible). In contemporary usage, who predominates in such contexts, but that is used with sufficient frequency to be considered standard, as in “The atoms in a diamond … outnumber all the people that have ever lived or ever will”(Richard Dawkins). That also occurs idiomatically in reference to groups (where who would sound peculiar), as in “[She] had two sons, and settled into raising a family that soon included twin daughters” (David Freeman).’

Which and that
At the end of last year, a reader asked about the difference between which and that. I cover this question at: https://www.onlinegrammar.com.au/which-and-that/

Grammar jargon
I read an article recently about sentence adverbs and before I read the article, I had to stop and think what made a sentence adverb different from any other adverb (you can read the article at http://bit.ly/W9Zhed).

By the way, sentence adverbs are words such as happily, admittedly, certainly, arguably that modify the whole sentence, not just a word or phrase.

Fortunately, no one was injured.

If you’d like to refresh your memory about grammar jargon, I cover a few terms in my blog: https://www.onlinegrammar.com.au/category/blog

The online Oxford Dictionary has a good jargon buster site: http://oxforddictionaries.com/words/jargon-buster

Have you come across MOOCs? The acronym stands for massive open online courses. And they are free. There are currently three major organisations offering quality MOOCs: Coursera.org, EdX.org and Udacity.com.

Some of the MOOCs on writing are discussed in an InkSpot blog: http://bit.ly/T7IfPh

My online programs
Over the Christmas break, I reviewed my online programs. If you are currently doing one of my online programs, I suggest you download the e-books again.

You can read more about my programs at www.onlinewritingtraining.com.au – the discount for ESL grammar (English as a second language) is still available until the end of the month.

A reader came across this amusing typo:

A Sydney community centre has two signs at the front door offering help with LITERACY and NUMEROUSY.

The above sign should have been fixed; however, we all make typos when we become too close to our work. I was delighted when Sam Leader, former editor of Flying Solo, Australia’s micro business community magazine, and one of its three directors, allowed me to use her article on my blog: http://bit.ly/10L952L

Need a hand with your communications?
Karina Randall can help. She is a senior communications practitioner with a wealth of experience in writing, proof reading and editing.

Over the past 20 years, she has developed strategy, written, edited and promoted a variety of communications, media and thought leadership programs for companies such as Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW and Jones Lang LaSalle.  She has also worked on some of the most high profile media and corporate affairs issues in Australia.

Feel free to touch base with her on LinkedIn, email (karina.randall@hotmail.com.au) or telephone (0414) 823 712.

Most annoying words of 2012
What words annoyed you most last year?

For the last four years, Marist Poll has surveyed people to find out what words annoy them. Once again, ‘whatever’ topped the list, but this year for the first time, ‘twitterverse’ made it to the top five.

The other three in the top five were: ‘like’, ‘you know’, ‘just saying’.

Quote of the month
‘Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing.’
Bernard Malamud, American author

(Having just reviewed my online grammar programs, I am not sure I agree!)


Top 10 grammar tips: which and that

These days, which and that are often used interchangeably without causing any ambiguity. However, prescriptive grammar distinguishes between their usages. In prescriptive grammar, which introduces a clause that adds extra information to a sentence. Such clauses are called non-restrictive or non-defining clauses because you could delete them and the rest of the sentence would stillContinue Reading

What and which

By Mary Morel Reader’s question: Which of the following is correct and why? What information do you require? Which information do you require? Answer: In the examples you gave, what is open-ended and general and which is more closed and specific, i.e. asking for a choice between a limited number of items. For example: WhatContinue Reading


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