That vs. Which

Posted June 20, 2014 by Briana in Grammar / 0 Comments

Photo credit: Daniel Silliman on Flickr
Photo Credit: Flickr
Since my last grammar post, I’ve had several requests for more.

I love talking to people about grammar, so I’m happy to help. Our lesson for today is when to use that versus when to use which. Like the rules for using between and among, this lesson should be pretty simple – or, at least, that’s what I’m hoping.

Basically, which can usually be taken out while that is necessary to preserve the meaning of the sentence.

Consider the following example:
Wine that is imported from France is expensive.

Is all wine expensive? No, just wine imported from France (as far as this sentence is concerned). Therefore, that is the best choice to maintain the integrity of the sentence. If we take out the word that and replace it with which, the whole meaning of the sentence is changed. Check it out:

Wine, which is imported from France, is expensive.
Not all wine is imported from France, so this sentence doesn’t make much sense.

Here’s another one:
Plants, which generate energy through photosynthesis, need a certain amount of sunlight to survive.
Since all plants utilize photosynthesis, the word that fits best.

This post is short, but hopefully helpful! Just like everything else in life, remember that practice makes perfect when it comes to grammar.

Do you ever get confused with that and which? Did you find this post helpful? What other grammar concepts would you like to see covered?

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