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Re^5: poll ideas quest 2015 (which-hunt)

by jdporter (Canon)
on May 17, 2015 at 16:50 UTC ( #1126895=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Re^4: poll ideas quest 2015 (which-hunt)
in thread poll ideas quest 2015

Ah, good article. It makes all the same points as I, yet it still insists on drawing the opposite (i.e. wrong) conclusion! Here's another good article with comments. I generally agree with the contrarian commenter "Warsaw Will".

Here's my big peeve: People have gotten so accustomed to using "that" for restrictive clauses... that it's now, unfortunately, increasingly common to see people using "that" with non-restrictive clauses! E.g.:

The perl mongers meetings, that tend to run long, ...

Even worse -- far worse -- is the disgraceful tendency to go one step further and use a form of "that" when the sense is possessive, i.e.

The perl mongers meetings, that's attendance is on the decline, ...

Gag me.

And this is why I believe it is sound advice to recommend that writers entirely avoid using "that" for relative clauses, at least as a default. I would prescribe the rule of thumb thusly:

  • Would you have to use "which" if the clause were prepositional? (e.g. "those with which") If so, then use "which" even if it's not prepositional.
  • Would a word like "who/whom", "when", or "where" fit in the place (disregarding the semantic impropriety)? If so, then use "which", not "that".

The argument about commas, and whether the use of "which" sans commas could lead to a question in the reader's mind as to whether commas were intended but inadvertently omitted, is a straw man. We have no such issues when dealing with "who/whom", "when", "where"; therefore, so no such issue should be imagined with "which".

Incidentally, the term "which hunt" certainly has art prior to Rachael's 2006 blog comment. My copy of The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White, (dated 1979) says:

The careful writer goes which-hunting, removes the defining [i.e. restrictive] whiches, and by so doing improves his work.
But that's a steaming pile of whatsit.

I reckon we are the only monastery ever to have a dungeon stuffed with 16,000 zombies.
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Re^6: poll ideas quest 2015 (which-hunt)
by jdporter (Canon) on May 21, 2015 at 03:28 UTC

    And to belabor the point further:

      When would -- ? At times when -- Whenever --
      Where could -- ? In places where -- Wherever --
      Who should -- ? People who -- Whoever --
      Which might -- ?         Those that -- [ugly thing]         ? [no such thing]        

    Clearly, the only cure is more cowbell, in the form of the following:

      Which might -- ? Those which -- Whichever --

    And to be quite clear, those last two forms are restrictive, not non-restrictive.

    I reckon we are the only monastery ever to have a dungeon stuffed with 16,000 zombies.
      Reminds me the table for smartmatch.
      لսႽ ᥲᥒ⚪⟊Ⴙᘓᖇ Ꮅᘓᖇ⎱ Ⴙᥲ𝇋ƙᘓᖇ

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