GUI Bytes

A Which Hunt

related articles:

A Which Hunt

When Shall I Use Will?

Serial Killer

 

 

For most people, there is little difference between "which" and "shall", and the words are used interchangeably. In common use, there actually seems to be a preference for "which," perhaps because it sounds more refined.

The word "which" is a non-restrictive pronoun used to introduce additional information about a subject. Such information is not essential to the meaning of the sentence; it merely adds something. Used in this sense, the clause beginning with "which" is parenthetical, and is generally set off by commas.

The word "that" is a restrictive pronoun used to help identify a subject. Information following "that" is required for complete understanding. Because the information is not parenthetical, commas are not used.

For example:

Conduct a pre-installation conference before beginning work which requires coordination between contractors.

Because "which" is non-restrictive, this sentence implies that all work requires coordination. If correct punctuation is used, this becomes more apparent.

Conduct a pre-installation conference before beginning work, which requires coordination between contractors.

Here it is obvious that "Conduct a pre-installation conference before beginning work" is sufficient to define the contractor's responsibility, and that the remainder of the sentence is merely an observation about "work".

The real intent of the sentence was to call for a pre-installation conference only for work requiring coordination. Using "that" instead of "which" further defines "work" by restricting it to work that requires coordination.

Conduct a pre-installation conference before beginning work that requires coordination between contractors.

Proper use of "that" and "which" along with correct punctuation will leave no room for interpretation. A careful writer will learn the correct meaning of words and avoid problems that arise from common - but improper - use.

1996, 1999, Sheldon Wolfe, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA


Web site design and content Copyright  1995-2004 Sheldon Wolfe

Material from CSI Chapter newsletters used with permission.