ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Who That? When to Use Which

Updated on December 14, 2016
Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran is a writer & former newspaper reporter/editor who traveled the world as a soldier's better half. Her works are on Amazon.

Source

Tricks of the Trade

Too often we writers write the way we talk. And, especially in America, we so badly bastardize our language, it's a wonder English-speakers around the world haven't turned to other countries for a better standard for the proper use of the English language.

I used to tell my English As A Second Language students to watch CNN to practice their English. The reason was I thought television news was a place where they could hear the English language spoken properly, without slang or regional accents. Even that advice is not necessarily true as you frequently find professional writers falling into the trap of common usage: writing the way we talk. And before you know it, common usage wins.

Does anyone really care any more if you split an infinitive, end a sentence with a preposition, or misuse a pronoun? The problem is, and the risk you run when you ignore these time-honored rules is, there are people out there who still know the difference. And too often they are your boss, your professor, or a prospect you are trying to win over to being a customer.

Many, many hubs have been written on this subject. I'm not going to repeat those effective efforts by writers who did a better job than I could. I'm only going to point out a few I see frequently here on HubPages and elsewhere that are very easy to avoid when you remember some of the tricks of our trade.

Who and That

The man that was singing the National Anthem was very good.

Things are thats. People are whos. The man who was singing the National Anthem was very good.

That and Which

I saw the boat which was sailing away.

Be a which-hunter. If the phrase is not essential, use which. If you use which, use a comma before it. If the phrase is essential, use that and no comma.

I saw the boat that was sailing away from the storm.

I saw the boat, which was sailing into the sunset.

Number (something you can count) and Amount (something you can't count)

You have a number of apples. You have an amount of apple juice.

Fewer and Less

Same rule. You have fewer apples. You have less apple juice.

That

Do an Edit/Find for the word, that, in your text and see how often you can eliminate it. Its overuse will slow down your reader.

For sticklers of correct grammar, the worst possible result of a rule being commonly misused is the rule might eventually actually be changed. Perish the thought!




Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      24 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I miss newspapers every day but payday. I'm sure you made a better living at what you are doing. You probably have the connections to freelance. I retired to writing novels (one memoir). Now if they would just sell!

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James-MizBejabbers 

      24 months ago

      No, not an editor in media. I started as a copywriter in broadcasting when I was 19, then I went to disk jockying and moved on into news. (I had to really rid myself of my Ozark hillbilly accent.) I had some college then, but when deregulation set in and bean counters took over operations and engineers and other licensed personnel (like me) were denied licensing anymore, I moved to newspaper as a copy editor for a couple of years. I went back to college and got both a BA and an MA in journalism. Then I got a job with the agency that does the acts, bills and proof pages of the state lawbooks. After 28 years there, I'm a senior editor. I'm hopefully looking at retirement this year so I can freelance. I'm tired of law and would like to adventure out again, but not writing commercials. (P.S. Charlie Rose is still my favorite.)

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      24 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      LOL is right. I love Charlie Rose because I remember a time when a southern accent had to be scrubbed to get very far in TV.

      Were you an editor in TV news or some other media?

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James-MizBejabbers 

      24 months ago

      Kathleen, I was scrolling through your hubs to find a certain one you mentioned in a forum and decided to stop and read this to see if we agree on which and that. I've also been a professional writer/journalist since I was 18, starting out writing for broadcasting and ending up being an editor for the last 30+ years. I've had a hard time watching grammar rules change, but I'm sorta glad about the acceptance of dangling prepositions. About professionals speaking English without an accent, unfortunately that is going by the wayside. Charlie Rose and Mo Rocca are two examples besides all the Brits that the networks are now hiring. Anyway, you did a good job, "which" is unusual on this website. LOL

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      :)

      Hub Pages says my comment is too short so here are some words to make them happy.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 

      3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Got my popcorn....& waiting eagerly!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Watch for my grammatical errors coming soon to a theater near you!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 

      3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Kathleen......I am guilty of falling into the trap too often... I REALLY appreciate this head's-up......reminder/refresher. They're always helpful... Thank you!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      moonlake and pstraubie48: Thanks for the comments. ps: I sympathize. I used to be a reporter and I could rattle this stuff off without even stopping to think. Now that I don't use it everyday, I'm slipping.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      3 years ago from sunny Florida

      O my...how does anyone ever learn all of these rules? I was a teacher for 40+ years and taught many of these 'rules.' Now that I no longer teach I wish to be more like ee cummings who often disregarded rules :D

      A fun bulletin board I used to love to put up around Halloween time had the heading: Which Witch is Which?

      Hoping all is good with you today Angels are head your way ps

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 

      3 years ago from America

      I use that way to often. Thanks for this article, I will be looking for that in my hubs.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Au fait: Thanks. You know, you forget about an older hub, and it's always a treat when some enterprising hubber finds it. Glad this one was a help.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      5 years ago from North Texas

      Excellent article and I'm pinning it to my 'Writing &Critical Thinking' board. Everyone needs to read this.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      We're writers. The masses text. We write. You and I both know the difference. Thanks for commenting.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Rebecca: We all do. That's what editors are for! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      6 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Great grammar rules, I usually just follow my common sense and the way it sounds, but sometimes basic rules help me as well. This was very helpful. Thank you, Kathleen! I am sharing this!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Docmo and phdast7: Thanks for the feedback. It is always welcomed.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      6 years ago from UK

      A really useful quick fire reminder on grammar usage that is all too easily forgotten. Thank you for the update- voted up/ useful.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      A great quick review of some basics that many of us have problems with. Although I also correct my students about their misuse of "who and that" - I am not sure that I have been correctly using "that and which." I will have to keep this in mind. Thanks for a great Hub. :)

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks for the comments.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Cute Larry! I'll add that one to my cheat sheet!

    • Larry Fields profile image

      Larry Fields 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      Voted up. Kathleen, you wrote:

      "If you use which, use a comma before it."

      There's any easy way to remember that rule:

      Witches are all commatose.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for the refresher on usage of these words. It is a good thing to take this into account as you write. I feel like I have to go back and check this now. Thanks for the lesson!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks for commenting.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks for commenting.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I've been a professional writer all my adult life, and I feel the exact same way. Every writer needs an editor.

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi again, I haven't had any English classes since high school and I have never had any writing classes, period. I expect to make mistakes and I do like it if I do have any errors, someone will point them out to me. Greg

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      We want to write the way we talk. It is a different skill set.

      Thanks for commenting.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Not at all. Nothing gets on my nerves more than a writer who says he doesn't think spelling and grammar matter that much. All that matters is the idea being expressed. It only doesn't matter to him because he doesn't care about his craft enough to do the hard work. Now that sounds stuffy!

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 

      6 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      Great idea for a Hub!There is a lot of poor grammar used in good Hubs, I have noticed. My wife taught English for a number of years, and she tends to be a more permissive (language and usage is always changing) person than I am. Standard English needs to be at least attempted, I think, unless you are writing for effect or in dialect. That sounds stuffy, I know.

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Kathleen, thank you for the lesson. I can use all I can get. One thing I have noticed on a lot of hubs too, is people have picked bad habits from texting and using the short-cuts in their articles. It just doesn't set well. Greg

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)