Hey, fellas! Today, I want to talk about yet another usage case where two words look interchangeable but are actually not. The words are ‘that’ and ‘which’. Both words are used to introduce a particular clause in a sentence.
The usage rule is actually simple: In a restrictive clause, use ‘that’. In a non-restrictive clause, use ‘which’. You can read more about restrictive and non-restrictive clause here.
Pay attention to this sentence:
- Dave’s wall art that I bought yesterday is my favorite.
- Dave’s wall art, which I bought yesterday, is my favorite.
The first sentence implies that Dave has created more than one wall art, but my favorite is the one that I bought yesterday. ‘That I bought yesterday’ is a necessary information. This is what we call restrictive clause. Therefore, we use ‘that‘ to introduce the clause. Without the clause, we don’t know which wall art of Dave’s that I’m talking about, since Dave has created more than one artwork.
In the second sentence, I’m saying that Dave’s wall art is my favorite. I’m probably comparing it with other people’s artworks that aren’t Dave’s. And I happened to purchase the wall art just yesterday. ‘Which I bought yesterday‘ is just an additional information. Even if I remove the clause, the sentence is still complete. This is what we call non-restrictive clause. We use ‘which’ to introduce this clause.
There you go, fellas. I hope it clears the confusion regarding the usage of ‘that’ and ‘which’.