Which vs. That

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For the past few days I have been working on setting the framework for my philanthropic enterprise: Gear Up Florida. All the web tasks are almost complete, and I will be devoting most of my time to fundraising and training in the upcoming weeks. Check out my Gear Up Florida Page, and stay tuned for updates on the main page. Before I totally go 100% Gear Up Florida, I wanted to transition with a light-flavored post….

The comparison of Which vs. That. When do you use ‘which’ and when do you use ‘that’?

The misusage of ‘which’ and ‘that’ is a common error. It happens so frequently that I am writing a letter to Bill Gates telling him to make spell check correct this error in the next edition of Microsoft Word.

At a party a few months ago, I was conversing with two rather attractive females and found myself trying to demonstrate the intricacies of the English language. I asked, “When does someone use ‘that’ vs. ‘which’.” The blond quickly replied that ‘which’ after a coma and ‘that’ doesn’t. This seemed to satisfy both of them. I however was not satisfied and attempted to impress them by explaining the theory behind it. Unfortunately I had a mind block, and they left shortly thereafter. Therefore now I will explain it again in a more succulent and clear fashion.

‘That’ is used with restricted clauses. A restrictive clause is when the identity of the subject is restricted in some way. Let us use this example…

Bikes that have suspensions are suited for off-road travel.

This clause is restrictive because suspension bikes are a certain type of bike.

‘Which’ is used with nonrestricted clauses. If the clause is always true, then it is nonrestricted! Check out this example…

Bikes, which were invented in the 19th century, are an inexpensive way to travel.

Bikes were invented in the 19th century. Nothing is ever going to change this unless someone discovers how to time travel, goes back in time, and invents bikes at a different date. It is not like some bikes were invented in the 18th century and some in the 20th. Bikes are bikes, and the first one was invented in the 19th century.