A well-known financial advisor recently asked us to update the manuscript for a book she published a few years ago. In the opening acknowledgements, three sentences using the word “which” didn’t seem right to me:
- “There are still a myriad of products which simply must be purchased through traditional selling methods.”
- “We can only sell selected products which will require value added services.”
- “This book offers many insights which can help you.”
How many of the three sentences above are not grammatically correct? If you said “none” then you’re correct.
Not to embarrass anyone on this distribution list, but many people including highly educated financial advisors, use “that” and “which” interchangeably. But, the two words are NOT synonymous and you should really pay attention to the distinction.
- “Which” introduces a non-essential clause.
- “That” introduces an essential clause.
I admit I’m not a great proofreader or grammarian. Here’s how I try to remember the difference between That vs. Which (your spellchecker won’t always get it right):
- If the clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence, you use “”
- If you could drop the clause and leave the meaning of the sentence intact, use “”
- The building that opened last weekis still unoccupied.
- The building, which opened last week, is next to Starbucks.
In the first sentence, the clause “that opened last week” is essential because it identifies the building that is still unoccupied. Without the clause, we could refer to any building. With an essential clause like the one above, use the word “that.”
In the second sentence, the clause “which opened last week” is non-essential because it’s unnecessary for identifying the building. Without “which opened last week,” the sentence would still make sense. Since it’s a non-essential clause, use the word “which.”
That vs. Which Quiz (commas deleted)
Q1) My calculus assignment__ I handed in yesterday got an A!
Q2) My tuxedo__ I wore last week has a hole in it.
Q3) Jupiter __ is next to Saturn is the largest planet in our solar system.
See end of post for answers*
It doesn’t matter how well you know the numbers, without having a solid command of the English language you won’t be taken seriously. After all, You’re an Elite Professional; Don’t Sound Like a Jamoke
To paraphrase philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”
*Quiz answers: 1) which 2) that 3) which
#grammar; #businesscommunication; #thoughtleadership