which / that - restrictive and non-restrictive clauses

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Hontas

New Member
Spanish - Colombia
De donde viene el cafe que toman los americanos?

Como se traduce esta frase al Ingles? Estoy preparando una exposicion acerca del cafe y esa es la frase para mi introduccion.

Las ideas que me pasan por la cabeza son:

Where does the coffee Americans drink come from?
Where does the coffee which Americans drink come from?
Where does the coffee that Americans Drink come from?

Gracias!
 
  • Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Why is the second incorrect, please?
    I think the answer is clear, Agró. It is incorrect because they don't use it. :D ;)


    2 is grammatically correct, Aidanriley.

    But, don't worry, this is something we can learn in books. We just need you to tell us what is normal, as you did. ;)
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish/AE
    Hello

    I think meaning, not grammar, makes #2 incorrect (in formal writing, at least)

    A. Where does the coffee that Americans drink come from?
    Restrictive clause: that americans drink is essential to the intended meaning.

    B. Where does the coffee, which Americans drink, come from?
    Non-restrictive clause, or a clause that can be removed without altering the meaning. But if we do remove which Americans drink, we change the meaning and are left with where does the coffee come from?

    My two cents....
    Cheers
     

    Áristos

    Senior Member
    español (España)
    Hello

    I think meaning, not grammar, makes #2 incorrect (in formal writing, at least)

    A. Where does the coffee that Americans drink come from?
    Restrictive clause: that americans drink is essential to the intended meaning.

    B. Where does the coffee, which Americans drink, come from?
    Non-restrictive clause, or a clause that can be removed without altering the meaning. But if we do remove which Americans drink, we change the meaning and are left with where does the coffee come from?

    My two cents....
    Cheers
    Como tú muy bien resaltas, la aposición requiere dos hermosas comas para delimitarla. Es igual que en español.
    Sin comas, significa otra cosa muy distinta. Y la frase que nos ocupa no las lleva ;)

    En el caso que nos ocupa en este hilo, "which" y "that" son equivalentes. No hay aposición.

    Saludos

    PS. Ynez, siento entrometerme :D
     

    Agró

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Navarre
    I didn't like the book (which / that) John gave me.



    That example is on this page:
    http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/645/01/


    Now Agró will continue with the explanation...:D :)
    I'll try:).

    From R. Murphy: English Grammar in Use.
    "b) When we are talking about things, we use that (not who) in a relative clause. We use that instead of it/they:

    Where are the eggs? - They were in the fridge
    Where are the eggs that were in the fridge?
    (...)

    You can also use which for things (but not for people):

    Where are the eggs which were in the fridge?

    That is more usual than which in the sentences in this unit (here the author means "defining -or restrictive- relative clauses"). But sometimes you must use which -see Unit 91 (non-defining relative clauses)."

    This is a defining/restrictive relative clause, so which is correct.
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish/AE
    Como tú muy bien resaltas, la aposición requiere dos hermosas comas para delimitarla. Es igual que en español.
    Sin comas, significa otra cosa muy distinta. Y la frase que nos ocupa no las lleva ;)

    En el caso que nos ocupa en este hilo, "which" y "that" son equivalentes. No hay aposición.

    Saludos

    PS. Ynez, siento entrometerme :D
    Pero si usa which tiene que usar las comas, lo que cambia el significado.
    Por eso es que la opción es that.
    (I should add the "formal writing" disclaimer, and I think I just did)

    Saludos
     

    Áristos

    Senior Member
    español (España)
    Pero si usa which tiene que usar las comas, lo que cambia el significado.
    Por eso es que la opción es that.
    (I should add the "formal writing" disclaimer, and I think I just did)

    Saludos
    No, a ver, estás confundiendo compañero.

    Debe usar las comas para realizar una aposición, una non-defining relative clause, y en ese caso sólo puede llevar "which".

    (I hate sports, which are boring = All sports are boring and I hate them)
    (The exercise, which is very easy, has to be done before Wednesday = There's only one exercise, it is very easy and it has to be done before Wednesday)

    PERO también puede ir sin comas, como restrictive relative clause, y en ese caso es equivalente a "that".

    (I hate sports which/that are boring = Not all sports are boring; I only hate the boring ones)
    (The exercise which/that is very easy has to be done before Wednesday = There are many exercises. Among them, there's one that is very easy and that has to be done before Wednesday)

    Mis ejemplos son un poco ramplones, pero sólo pretendía que se viera claro.

    Saludos
     
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    Agró

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Navarre
    No, a ver, estás confundiendo compañero.

    Debe usar las comas para realizar una aposición, una non-defining relative clause, y en ese caso sólo puede llevar "which".

    (I hate sports, which are boring = All sports are boring and I hate them)

    PERO también puede ir sin comas, como restrictive relative clause, y en ese caso es equivalente a "that".

    (I hate sports which/that are boring = Not all sports are boring; I only hate the boring ones)

    Mis ejemplos son un poco ramplones, pero sólo pretendía que se viera claro.

    Saludos
    Son perfectos. ¿Puedo apropiármelos para mis clases?;)
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Muchas gracias, amigos :)

    You've missed a little detail: you are giving examples where that/which is the subject of the sentence, not the object, and probably our friend Aidanriley will be more comfortable with your examples (when which is subject).

    I took for him examples from google where which is the object (like in the first coffee sentence).

    Fleet Efficiency provides us with the pioneering opportunities to tackle the major overheads which our company carries on the ...

    As far as I am aware it has been tested quite thouroughly with exception to the Business Closures which our company don't use at the moment.


    In these examples one can use that, which or nothing. It seems in this structure which is only used in formal speech, and not in a normal informal sentence like the coffee example.
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish/AE
    No, a ver, estás confundiendo compañero.

    Debe usar las comas para realizar una aposición, una non-defining relative clause, y en ese caso sólo puede llevar "which".

    (I hate sports, which are boring = All sports are boring and I hate them)
    (The exercise, which is very easy, has to be done before Wednesday = There's only one exercise, it is very easy and it has to be done before Wednesday)

    PERO también puede ir sin comas, como restrictive relative clause, y en ese caso es equivalente a "that".

    (I hate sports which/that are boring = Not all sports are boring; I only hate the boring ones)
    (The exercise which/that is very easy has to be done before Wednesday = There are many exercises. Among them, there's one that is very easy and that has to be done before Wednesday)

    Mis ejemplos son un poco ramplones, pero sólo pretendía que se viera claro.

    Saludos
    Hello

    The ol' that vs. which debate....

    My view, for whatever it's worth:
    A restrictive clause is essential to the meaning of a sentence; a non-restrictive clause is not. Simply put, if you use which, you are introducing a non-restrictive clause, and you need commas (if the clause is in the middle of a sentence) or a single, preceding comma (if the clause comes at the end). With that in mind, you'll never go wrong. In other words, with which, think comma(s); with that, don't.

    Oh, were life so neat and simple.

    I think I hear two arguments:
    (1) Sometimes that is the equivalent of which. I wouldn't argue with it; I'm sure there are plenty of examples where the meaning isn't altered by using that and which interchangeably. But the question is whether that and which mean the same in the example at hand. They do not. The point of a relative clause is it can be removed because it provides non-essential information:

    A. Where does the coffee which Americans drink come from?
    If you remove which Americans drink, a step allowed by non-restrictive clauses, you end up with:
    B. Where does the coffee come from?

    Do A and B mean the same?
    No. Obviously, Americans drink is essential to the intended meaning, and so a that restrictive clause is needed:

    Where does the coffee that Americans drink come from?

    (2) Which can start a restrictive clause.
    Perhaps once upon a time grammarians kept that and which clauses strictly apart, and nowadays such rule is not so rigidly enforced. I'm sure there are plenty of examples where which works as a restrictive clause, but that's not the point of this thread. In our example, which gets in the way of the intended meaning. No one would be confused by the meaning of where does the coffee that Americans drink come from? But in where does the cofee which Americans drink come from? a reader may well wonder, do you mean any coffee, or the coffee that Americans drink? If you mean that, why not use it?

    But it's only fair to let natives have a say.
    Cheers
     
    This is a defining/restrictive relative clause, so which is correct.
    Actually, I believe you've got it backwards. ;)

    The basic rule is to use that with restrictive clauses and which with nonrestrictive clauses.

    For example:

    "The cat that was in the grass ran after the bird."

    "The cat, which was in the grass, ran after the bird."

    I believe that Áristos explained the difference well in post #8.

    Pero en todo caso... esto realmente es un caso de buscarle cinco patas al gato. En el habla moderna la distinción entre that y which casi no se observa, sean las que sean las reglas. En muchos casos son básicamente iguales en el lenguaje cotidiano. Tuve que aprender y observar la diferencia cuando era estudiante, pero eso fue hace bastante tiempo. Las cosas han cambiado. :)

    Saludos...
     

    Agró

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Navarre
    Actually, I believe you've got it backwards. ;)

    The basic rule is to use that with restrictive clauses and which with nonrestrictive clauses.

    For example:

    "The cat that was in the grass ran after the bird."

    "The cat, which was in the grass, ran after the bird."
    No, I'm afraid you are wrong. Would you claim that

    "The cat which was in the grass ran after the bird"

    is wrong?

    If so, lots of recent grammar books need thorough revision.
    M. Swan, in Practical English Usage, says:

    "identifying relative cluses
    In identifying relative clauses, we very often use that instead of the other relative pronouns, especially in a conversational style.
    Where's the girl that sells the tickets? (=...who sells...)
    He's a man that people like at first sight. (=...whom people like...)
    Could you iron the trousers that are hanging up behind the door? (...which are hanging...)
    I've lost the bananas that I bought this morning. (...which I bought...)."
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish/AE
    No, I'm afraid you are wrong. Would you claim that

    "The cat which was in the grass ran after the bird"

    is wrong?

    If so, lots of recent grammar books need thorough revision.
    M. Swan, in Practical English Usage, says:

    "identifying relative cluses
    In identifying relative clauses, we very often use that instead of the other relative pronouns, especially in a conversational style.
    Where's the girl that sells the tickets? (=...who sells...)
    He's a man that people like at first sight. (=...whom people like...)
    Could you iron the trousers that are hanging up behind the door? (...which are hanging...)
    I've lost the bananas that I bought this morning. (...which I bought...)."
    Hello

    Spug isn't wrong; there is plenty of support for the basic rule that he pointed out. It seems Mr. Swan is among those who don’t see a problem using which to introduce a restrictive clause. Fair enough, but it is worth noting that others don’t agree.

    The problem with the cat which was in the grass ran after the bird is that a careful reader would likely pause before which (as if there was a comma) and assume therefore that the clause is non-restrictive. If what you had in mind was a restrictive clause, then use that: the cat that was in the grass ran after the bird. There is no pause before that and no risk that the reader will misunderstand the nature of the clause.

    Among those who see a distinction between that and which:

    Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus, p. 921:
    For writers, the abstract rule that that introduces restrictive elements and which introduces non-restrictive elements is probably less helpful than the following simple test: if there needs to be a comma before the relative pronoun, you need which; otherwise, you need that.

    Garner’s Modern American Usage, p. 782:
    …what’s the rule? The simplest statement of it is this: if you see a which without a comma (or preposition) before it, nine times out of ten it needs to be a that. The one other time, it needs a comma.

    The Chicago Manual of Style, p. 230:
    In polished American prose, that is used restrictively….which is used non-restrictively…Which should be used restrictively only when it is preceded by a preposition (the situation in which we find ourselves)… In British English, writers and editors seldom observe the distinction between the two words.

    I suppose we can all take sides now. I just think there is something to be said for keeping that and which strictly apart: it adds precision and clarity to your writing.

    Cheers
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Now you've finally started saying things related to this topic. ;)



    Probably it is useful for us to use it the way it is recommended in your cites, but as you can see, which is always correct in a restrictive sentence according to all grammatical sources, both American (the one I linked) and British (our grammar books). So we cannot say it is incorrect, and we must be prepared to find it in formal contexts.


    If the discussions in many of the handbooks are complex and burdened with exceptions, the facts of usage are quite simple. Virginia McDavid's 1977 study shows about 75 percent of the instances of which in edited prose introduce restrictive clauses; about 25 percent, nonrestrictive ones.

    We conclude that at the end of the 20th century, the usage of which and that -at least in prose- has pretty much settled down. You can use either which or that to introduce a restrictive clause -the grounds for your choice should be stylistic- and which to introduce a nonrestrictive clause.

    Merriam-Webster's dictionary of English usage, page 894-896

    You can read it in books.google.com

    That is the same information we can read in our British grammar books.
     
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    No, I'm afraid you are wrong. Would you claim that

    "The cat which was in the grass ran after the bird"

    is wrong?
    Yes, I certainly would.

    However, you could make it correct by adding commas to indicate that the clause is in nonrestrictive apposition.

    "The cat, which was in the grass, ran after the bird."

    "The cat that was in the grass ran after the bird." In this sentence, the subordinate clause provides information that is specific to the cat in the grass. We are talking about the cat that is in the grass (and not, for example, about the cat that is in the tree).

    At any rate, as more than one of us has pointed out, in American usage, the distinction between the two conjunctions has become increasingly blurred over time. I continue to observe it because it is what I was taught many years ago, and introducing restrictive clauses with which simply sounds wrong to me. But it is acceptable in modern usage.
     
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    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    ... but in formal American English it is generally recommended to use only that,[4] or to reduce to a zero clause. This rule was recommended in 1926 by H.W. Fowler, who observed, "Some there are who follow this principle now; but it would be idle to pretend that it is the practice either of most or of the best writers."[5] According to Stanford linguist Arnold Zwicky, "Most linguists—especially sociolinguists—think this a really silly idea."[6]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_relative_clauses

    Searching around, I found a page called The Great Which Hunt. :D

    http://clubtroppo.com.au/2008/11/30/the-great-which-hunt/
     
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