Which Or That: Grammar Errors
When To Use That Or Which - Mrs. Twitches
The words which and that cause many headaches. This is why Mrs. Twitches has an eye twitch. The incorrect use of which and that were spreading in the English language. They caused a number of dire headaches for Mrs. Twitches. She’s on her way to recovery, though. You needn’t worry. She just has a permanent eye twitch that is probably just a neurological glitch. She just requests that people watch their whiches so Mrs. Twitches won’t fall into any more ditches as a result of her twitches.
Did you know that Mrs. Twitches loves to rhyme? She does it all the time. She loves to wear pink, and utterly hates to make grammar stinks, but she will if she can’t think.
Mrs. Twitches would like to talk about the word which and how people use it. She believes that the word which is expendable. Not expandable like her waistline, but expendable.
The Twitching Eye Trio Will Make Your Eyes Twitch In an Interesting Sort Of Way
The word which generally shows up in a sentence in a non-restrictive clause. Mrs. Twitches recognizes that people don’t always want to know the ins and outs of grammar rules. So before she gets another case of eye twitch from the incorrect use of which, she will tell you that these non-restrictive clauses basically add information to a sentence – information that doesn’t have to be there. These clauses are set off by commas.
Mrs. Twitches has an eye twitch, which she has had for years, in her left eye.
Now, if the part of the sentence with the word which is left out, you will see that the meaning of the sentence doesn’t change:
Mrs. Twitches has an eye twitch in her left eye.
The only difference is that we don’t have the extra information that she’s had twitches for years. Poor thing. That’s a lot of twitching. No wonder she’s unhitched.
Because the meaning of the sentence doesn’t change – Mrs. Twitches still has a twitch in her left eye – the part of the sentence surrounded by commas isn’t required. This is a non-restrictive clause.
Mrs. Twitches was sitting in her Chevy, which was old and rusty, when her britches began to feel heavy.
Do we really care about the fact that the Chevy was old and rusty when compared to Mrs. Twitches’ pants feeling heavy? Nah, old and rusty isn’t necessary to get the disturbing meaning of that sentence. Maybe it was that Manwich that Mrs. Twitches ate. A little canned sloppy joe sauce on a bun anyone?
In any case, the non-restrictive clause can appear at the end of the sentence:
Mrs. Twitches often wears pink shirts with brown britches, which is practically every day.
We would still understand that Mrs. Twitches wears her pink shirts and brown britches a lot, without the clause at the end of the sentence. The information after the word which just gives us a little bit more information to indicate how often, but we don’t require that information to understand that sentence.
If you remember nothing else, remember this: just as Mrs. Twitches throws out her britches, you, too, can throw out the whiches.
Mrs. Twitches has had enough of the britches business. She’d like to discuss when to use the word that. She’s going to take liberties and tell you that her pantyhose are quite restrictive. But if they weren’t, she would have a problem. In the same way, restrictive clauses must stay in the sentence. If not, you will have a problem.
Those pesky restrictive clauses needn’t be a threat. Mrs. Twitches understands how that can sound intimidating. But restrictive clauses are just a part of the sentence. They have the word that in them, and don’t even have any commas.
Mrs. Twitches wired the ignition switch that broke in her Chevy.
My, there’s more to Mrs. Twitches than we previously thought. She hotwired her truck! If we didn’t know that her ignition switch broke, then we’d have to wonder why Mrs. Twitches was hotwiring the Chevy. Maybe she wanted to flirt with Mr. Glitches. Who knows?
Mrs. Twitches wore her pink dress that had brown stitches to town.
Now where would we be if Mrs. Twitches didn’t have those stitches holding her dress together? Besides, she had her eyes – at least the non-twitching one – set on Mr. Glitches.
Mrs. Twitches drove by the street that Mr. Glitches lived on, and was in stitches when she saw his pink house!
In the above statement, it’s important to know that Mrs. Twitches drove on the same road that Mr. Glitches lived on because if the rest of that sentence stood by itself, it wouldn’t make much sense: Mrs. Twitches drove by the street. That’s nice, but it doesn't make sense and who cares?
Mrs. Twitches would like you to know some final thoughts about which and that. Which refers to objects or animals, not people. She is not a which. She might act like a witch on occasion, but that’s beside the point. The word that can refer to animals, people and objects – it’s more versatile.
Wouldn’t you know, Mrs. Twitches got hitched with Mr. Glitches. Now, she’s known as Mrs. Twitches-Glitches. Can you imagine what their children are going to be like?
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© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun