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Grammar

When to use ‘that’ and when to use ‘which’?

  • THAT should be used to introduce a restrictive clause.
  • WHICH should be used to introduce a non-restrictive or parenthetical clause.

A restrictive clause is one which is essential to the meaning of a sentence – if it’s removed, the meaning of the sentence will change.

Example:

The book that you gave me last night has several pages missing.

Can you return the DVD that you borrowed last month?

A non-restrictive clause can be left out without changing the meaning of a sentence. Non-restrictive clauses are either in brackets or have a comma before and after them (or only before them if they come at the end of a sentence):

Example:

Paulo Coelho’s latest book, which my dad gave me on my birthday, has really inspired me.

Driven by desperation, Lucy even pawned her diamond wedding ring, which was also a family heirloom.

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