Grammatical Mistakes that Very Intelligent People Make - That vs. Which
This one is very tricky, and an extremely common mistake, so heed the rule: 'That' starts a dependent (also called restrictive) clause; 'which', an independent (nonrestrictive) one.
In the example, "The dog that chased me down the street was black and brown", the clause "chased me down the street" is an important part of the sentence. For something that is an additional piece of information, but incidental to the main idea, use 'which', as in: "The dog, which was black and brown, chased me down the street on my way to the bus." The independent clause starting with 'which' can be removed without hurting the most important information.
Sounds technical, but the easy way to remember this: If you need to use a comma, use which. If not, use that. And don't forget to add the second comma after the clause!
Another usage tutorial :
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WordChazer wrote on March 25, 2015, 6:09 PM
So could you also say 'The dog, which chased me down the street, was black and brown'. ? The sentence 'The dog was black and brown.' is a complete statement in itself, after all. It turns your example slightly on the head, but doesn't seem to me to be any less correct. What do you reckon?
Nar2Reviews wrote on March 25, 2015, 6:13 PM
Not quite. The use of the "which" word, does indeed add more information, but there is no need to mention "on my way to the bus," which was not provided in the first statement.
"The dog, which was black and brown, chased me down the street," relates to giving more info about that particular dog. However the first statement doesn't require the word "which" but rather the usage of a comma so that it reads; "the dog that chased me down the street, was black and brown." As you can see, the usage of the comma already breaks up the sentence AND informs any one about the dog. Thus, no need to add "which."
Alexandoy wrote on March 25, 2015, 6:24 PM
The most common mistake I see in writers is the proper use of the words LOSE and LOOSE.
MegL wrote on March 25, 2015, 6:42 PM
Useful information. Though sometimes American and British grammatical usage is different, but probably not in this case.
MegL wrote on March 25, 2015, 6:42 PM
I agree. I do not know how they could confuse them!
Alexandoy wrote on March 25, 2015, 6:45 PM
Here is another paradox in the English language. When there is business, the shop is OPEN and when there is no business, the shop is CLOSED. Why not opened and closed? Or simply open and close?
bestwriter wrote on March 25, 2015, 8:14 PM
'OPEN' because there will be activity and 'CLOSED' because there will be no activity. Just a thought.1
shaggin83 wrote on March 25, 2015, 8:43 PM
Great advice but something that I will not remember lol. I am terrible with English rules. I finally at 30 can usually tell the difference between their , there, and they're but to and too still confuse me.
AliCanary wrote on March 25, 2015, 10:30 PM
Sure, if the main idea that you want to communicate is that the dog was black and brown--and the fact that it chased you down the street is incidental--then that is indeed correct.
AliCanary wrote on March 25, 2015, 10:37 PM
That is incorrect. To use a comma in that way creates a run-on sentence, which is one of the worst grammatical sins one can make.1
Not sure why you bothered to quibble over my addition of a few words for rhythm, but it certainly doesn't change the given rule. I could clearly add those words to the first example, or remove them from the second, without changing any of the usage guidelines.
MelissaE wrote on March 25, 2015, 10:40 PM
"Which" as used in your sentence is a dependent clause. The only time that you can say that it is independent is when used as a pronoun as the first sentence. Dependency has nothing to do with whether it is important to the meaning of the sentence. It depends on whether it depends on the rest of the sentence in order to make sense. Which is used for adjective clauses.
AliCanary wrote on March 25, 2015, 10:42 PM
"Open" and "closed" are adjectives describing states of being, so this is correct. "Opened" is a past tense of "open", and "closed" does double duty by also being a past tense. We can't say "open" and "close", though, because if you say "the store is close", that means the store is nearby--it's a different word altogether. English is rather weird in many ways.1
luisga814 wrote on March 25, 2015, 11:14 PM
Even if I know how to write English, there are some issues that I commit grammar mistakes because I am only human, I am trying my best to be perfect.
princesskaurvaki wrote on March 26, 2015, 1:01 AM
It's piece of important information for me. I'm not native English, so it really gives me knowledge
crowntower wrote on March 26, 2015, 3:33 PM
Thanks for this information, I hope I can really understand this simple lessons of yours in the future. I hope I don't have any errors right now, but I think that is impossible for me, LoL!!!! God bless and thank you for sharing some wisdom.
Nar2Reviews wrote on March 27, 2015, 7:56 AM
AliCanary - "...That is incorrect. To use a comma in that way creates a run-on sentence, which is one of the worst grammatical sins one can make..." No, it is not incorrect - because it is a phrase of speech, not a worded phrase; the comma acts as a breath in between the pieces of information given.
AliCanary wrote on March 27, 2015, 1:16 PM
Nar2Reviews wrote on March 28, 2015, 4:25 PM
So does this mean that using that site, you are basing that site on your post in terms of the info? Also another interesting article, AliCanary http://www.onestopenglish.com/grammar/grammar-reference/american-english-vs-british-english/differences-in-american-and-british-english-grammar-article/152820.article It is not an exhaustive list.
The English language is indeed a strange one. It isn't all that universal when it comes to written and spoken context. However, I would add that in my experience, U.S English has a bad trait on reliance of verbal based, being translated into words.
AliCanary wrote on March 29, 2015, 12:36 PM
I'm not sure what your first question means. Are you asking if I used that site as reference for this post? No, I wrote my post based on having learned this from various grammatical sources, from my own English classes in school to usage texts such as Strunk and White's Elements of Style . I reached the article to which I posted a link by simply searching "comma splice" and clicking on the top result. I think the people at Purdue University illustrated the concept fairly well.
You can choose to disagree, sir, but I am saying that if you use a comma in such a fashion, you will be considered as less literate than you wish to be. I am trying to help you, but of course, you may do as you wish. I do agree that the English language is strange.
Nar2Reviews wrote on March 31, 2015, 10:37 PM
"...you will be considered as less literate " Oh don't worry, you aren't insulting me at all. First degree in English from Oxford Uni, here dear!
AliCanary wrote on April 1, 2015, 12:17 AM