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Which versus that

Read this article about the correct usage of which and that.
© University of Southern Queensland

When to use “which” and when to use “that”.

The key between knowing when to use “which” or “that” is knowing the difference between a restrictive and non-restrictive clause. A restrictive clause is required for the sentence to make sense. Non-restrictive clauses are additional information to the main sentence and don’t interfere with the meaning of the main clause when chopped off.

Consider the sentences below.

  1. Tom was more interested in the property that has a pool.
  2. Tom was more interested in the other property, which has a pool.

Can you see the difference here between the sentences and the relevance the pool has? In the first sentence, the pool is directly attached to the interest Tom has to the property, whereas in the second sentence, the fact the property has a pool is an offside comment.

Read the example sentences below with the “which” and “that” clauses removed.

  1. Tom was more interested in the property.
  2. Tom was more interested in the other property.

The first sentence doesn’t make sense now but the second sentence does.

If the clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence, use “that”. If the clause could be removed and the meaning is the same, use “which”.

Below are some more examples. As you read them, practise taking out the “that” or “which” clauses and see if they still make sense.

Practice examples 1

To get some context, below are some incorrect usages of which, along with the fixes to make them correct.

Practice examples 2

© University of Southern Queensland
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