Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: which (1).

which (1). Today: Generally. “Which,” used immoderately, is possibly responsible for more bad sentences than any other in the language. Small wonder that James Thurber wrote: “What most people don’t realize is that one ‘which’ leads to another. . . . Your inveterate whicher . . . is not welcome in the best company.” “Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Guide to Modern English Usage,” in The Ways of Language: A Reader 142, 143 (Raymond J. Pflug ed., 1967). E.B. White was like-minded: “Careful writers, watchful for small conveniences, go which-hunting, remove the defining whiches, and by so doing improve their work.” William Strunk Jr. & E.B. White, The Elements of Style 59 (4th ed. 2000). For a full explanation of “which” vs. “that,” see GMAU’s entry on “that (A).” Suffice it to say here that if you see a “which” with neither a preposition nor a comma, dash, or parenthesis before it, it should probably be a “that.” Next: Wrongly Applied to People. For more information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Of the estimated 10,000 to 20,000 words that make up the average American’s vocabulary, slang constitutes about 10%, according to the authors of the Dictionary of American Slang.” Jeff Kunerth, “Sometimes the Liveliest Words,” in About Language 221 (William H. Roberts & Gregoire Turgeon eds., 2d ed. 1989).
Scroll to Top