Difference Between That and Which (With Table)

That vs Which

A clause is an important aspect of the English Language. The clause is a set of words that contain a verb and is also a part of a sentence.

A clause contains a subject and a predicate. A predicate in a clause is commonly a verb or a verb phrase with any objects and relatively connected to its modifiers.

There are four types of clauses in English in general. The main clause or an independent clause, a subordinate clause or a dependent clause, relative clause, or an adjectival clause and a noun clause.

A simple sentence has only one finite clause. Indeed, English has complex sentences too, which has multiple clauses.

A relative clause is one type of clause that expresses the person or a thing that the speaker is referring to. The most common relative clauses that are in use are who, whose, whom, that, and which.

The last two relative clauses are often confused. Though they sound alike while used in a sentence, if misused instead of the correct clause is considered grammatically wrong.

The main difference between That and Which is, That is used in a sentence to talk about things as well as people while Which is used in a sentence to talk only about things.


Parameter of ComparisonThatWhich
Meaning/Definition“That” is a relative clause used to denote a person or an object who is at a distance to the speaker.“Which” is a word that asks questions about or adds information about the noun which comes after the word.
FunctionThat enhances the meaning of the subject.Which at times, need not be pertinent to the subject.
Parts of SpeechThat belongs to Pronoun, Adverb, Determiner, and Conjunction.Pronoun and Determiner.
Type of ClauseThat is used with restrictive relative clauses.Which is used with a non-restrictive relative clause?
Refers toPeople and Things.Only Things.

 

When to Use the Word That?

That is a word in English that denotes a person or an object who is at a distance to the speaker. It forms as a part of a restrictive relative clause.

That is a word in English that can be used in different grammatical forms. It can be used as a pronoun, determiner, adverb, and conjunction.

E.g. As a Pronoun

  1. That’s John’s Son.
  2. That’s a fabulous idea.

E.g. As a Determiner

  1. See that man there.
  2. John lived in Cape town at that time.

E.g. As an Adverb

  1. Lilly would not go that far
  2. Is the place that dirty?

E.g. As a conjunction

  1. John said that he was hurt.
  2. Ah that he cannot be brought alive.

That is a versatile word that denotes both the things as well as people. That can be used to perfectly identify the person whom the speaker is referring to. 

That can also be used to refer to the particular thing with the utmost clarity. The word that can acknowledge something that was already said or understood or known.

That is a part of an exclamation too. It can be used as an adverb to denote the condition of a place or a thing.

Finally, that is a word that can be used to express happiness or regret when comes to an exclamation.

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That word usage
That word usage
 

When to Use the Word Which?

Which” is a word in English that can be used to denote a particular thing referred by the speaker. The word Which comes under a non-restrictive relative clause. 

The word Which can be represented in different ways. It can be a pronoun or a determiner depending on the context.

E.g. As a pronoun – determiner

  1. Which is the best fruit available in the city?
  2. The cinema which was featured last week is not available now.

The word which denotes the pronoun of the statement mainly through questions. It enhances the meaning of the noun in the sentence.

E.g. The vegetables which I bought the other day were of bad quality.

The word also denotes the subject conveniently in sentences.

E.g. The gold chain which I saw was hers.

“Which” is a word that can be used easily where 2 or more relative clauses are connected by and or.

E.g. Cricket is a game in which people are glued and which also wastes their valuable time.

A restrictive clause can be used to introduce using the word Which. 

E.g. He likes the restaurant which we went to last week. As such, Which is a word normally gives additional information about things already know or been identified in the context. 

Which word usage 1
Which word usage

Main Differences Between That and Which

  1. That is a pronoun used to point out a person or a thing at a distance from the speaker. “Which” is an interrogative pronoun which can denote only a thing.
  2. That can be used as a pronoun, determiner, conjunction, and an adverb in the parts of speech of the English language whereas which can be used as a pronoun and determiner.
  3. That is a restrictive relative clause while Which is a non-restrictive relative clause.
  4. That enhances the meaning of the subject all the time while which is impertinent of the subject at times.
  5. That is an essential clause, but which is a non-essential clause. That adds more information being an essential clause, but which adds supplementary information to the sentence.

 

Infographic

That vs Which

 

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Conclusion

The confusion of using the word and which still prevails among people. While That being very restrictive it gives specific meaning to the sentence, while Which gives approximate meaning to the sentence.

The best way to understand the difference will be, that denotes exact thing or a person while Which denotes only things and that too vaguely. The grammar of a language is most important for the context and beauty of it.

The usage of correct words depending on the context plays a vital role to keep the grammar in place. The clause of a sentence as such deals with the most vital information and the usage of the words must not liquidize it.


 

Word Cloud for Difference Between That and Which

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on That and Which. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

Difference Between That and Which
Word Cloud for That and Which

 

References

  1. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/that
  2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/which

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