Who/which or that

Seifer93

Member
Italian
I know for sure that who and which, when used as relative pronouns, aren't always replaceable by that, like in this sentence:

That man, who is my best friend's father, is an excellent tennis player.

But is there any case in which it is that that can't be replaced by who or which? (Of course regarding the sphere of relative pronouns)
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The only case I can think of is where it can be replaced by some other wh-word:

    the day that we left
    the day we left
    the day when we left

    the reason that I did it
    the reason I did it
    the reason why I did it
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Now I'm back at home and can check my grammar. There are three situations where a wh-relative is unlikely to be used (though not impossible):

    (i) After determiners, such as 'all', 'any', 'none', and their compounds such as 'anything', 'nothing':

    All (that)/:thumbsdown:which I ask for is some peace and quiet.
    She repeated anything (that)/:thumbsdown:which I said.

    (ii) After superlatives:

    That is the biggest car (that)/:thumbsdown:which I have ever seen.
    I got the first one that/:thumbsdown:which was available.

    (iii) When the relative clause is a predicative complement ascribing a property to the ascendent. Explained more easily by examples:

    He's no longer the trustworthy friend (that)/:thumbsdown:which he was in those days.
    The interview turned out not to be the ordeal (that)/:thumbsdown:which I had feared it would be.
     

    "Calui"

    New Member
    Vietnamese
    Relative pronouns have puzzled me so far. What I know about them cannot help me give a clear explanation for the following sentences:
    1. Jack is the one that I miss most. (Can I use who instead?)
    2. Do you get on with the person who lives next door? (Can I use that instead?)
    3. It is an event that/which I would rather forget.
    4. The person who did it was never caught. (Can I use that instead?)
    Could you please help me distinguish these cases?
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    It's not a rule or anything, but there are those who prefer to use who in relation to people rather than that. Both are very common, though. I prefer to use who, too, but there are times when that just works better (such as when who is used elsewhere in the sentence).
    1. Jack is the one that I miss most. (Can I use who instead?) - yes.
    2. Do you get on with the person who lives next door? (Can I use that instead?)
    - yes.
    3. It is an event that/which I would rather forge. - Maybe. There are those - and I am one - who prefer to use which only for nonrestrictive clauses, so I'd use that here. Lots of people would have no problem with which, though.
    4. The person who did it was never caught. (Can I use that instead?)
    - yes. I wouldn't, though. I don't know why it bothers me more here than in your previous examples - maybe because the pronoun comes directly after the noun?
     
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