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That vs Which
The first sentence
- Think of it this way:
- My sister tells me she is in one of the "study rooms" at the library. She says:
- 1) "I'm in the third study room, which has a door knob."
- 2) “I'm in the third study room that has a door knob."
says she is in the third study room, which just so happens to have a doorknob. Of the many study rooms, she is in the 3rd study room.
The second sentence
says she is in the third door-knobbed room, which may or may not be the third study room. Maybe the 2nd, 4th, and 7th rooms have door knobs. In this case, she is telling me she is in the 7th room, not the 3rd room. You see, you need to use the word "that" when the information conveyed after it is essential to the meaning of the sentence because it restricts the scope of what you are talking about.
Notice how the words after “that” in the second sentence actually change the meaning of that sentence.
No longer are you talking about any study room---you’re talking about only the study rooms that have door knobs. If you ever see a sentence on the GMAT that uses “that”—see if you can take out the phrase afterwards without altering the meaning of the sentence. If the phrase RESTRICTS the set of items you are talking about, then that’s correct.
If, however, the phrase only adds detail without restricting---then that’s a RED FLAG
. You should use “which” instead and add a “comma”.
What you’ll see on the test:
“The development of new classrooms that aims to accommodate the growing student body has been halted.
Don’t use “THAT”...because if you use “that” it implies some classrooms accommodate the growing student body while others do not...You should change it to this:
The development of new classrooms, which aims to accommodate the growing student body, has been halted.
A verb is a word that shows action (runs, hits, slides) or state of being (is, are, was, were, am,and so on).
- He ran around the block.
- You are my friend.
If a verb follows to, it is called an infinitive phrase and is not the main verb. You will find the main verb either before or after the infinitive phrase.
- I like to walk.
- The efforts to get her elected succeeded
A subject is the noun or pronoun that performs the verb.
- The woman hurried.
- Woman is the subject.
A subject will come before a phrase beginning with of.
- A bouquet of yellow roses will lend color and fragrance to the room.
To find the subject and verb, always find the verb first. Then ask who or what performed the verb.
- The jet engine passed inspection.
- Passed is the verb. Who or what passed? The engine, so engine is the subject. If you included the word jet as the subject, lightning will not strike you. Technically, jet is an adjective here and is part of what is known as the complete subject.
- From the ceiling hung the chandelier.
- The verb is hung. Now, if you think ceiling is the subject, slow down. Ask who or what hung. The answer is chandelier, not ceiling. Therefore, chandelier is the subject.
Any request or command such as "Stop!" or "Walk quickly." has the understood subject youbecause if we ask who is to stop or walk quickly, the answer must be you.
- (You) Please bring me some coffee.
- Bring is the verb. Who is to do the bringing? You understood.
Between refers to two. Among is used for three or more.
- Divide the candy between the two of you.
- Divide the candy among the three of you.
The word like may be used as a preposition and in informal writing, as a conjunction. In formal writing, use as, as if, or as though rather than like as the conjunction.
- Prepositional usage:
- You look so much like your mother.
- Conjunction usage:
- You look like you are angry.
- You look as if you are angry.
Use active voice whenever possible. Active voice means the subject is performing the verb.
- Barry hit the ball.
- The ball was hit.
- Notice that the responsible party may not even appear when using passive voice.
Avoid overusing there is, there are, it is, it was, and so on.
- There is a case of meningitis that was reported in the newspaper.
- A case of meningitis was reported in the newspaper.
- Even better:
- The newspaper reported a case of meningitis. (Active voice)
- There are some revisions which must be made.
- Some revisions must be made.
- Even better:Please make some revisions. (Active voice)
If you start a sentence with an action, place the actor immediately after or you will have created the infamous dangling modifier.
- While walking across the street, the bus hit her.
- While walking across the street, she was hit by a bus.
- She was hit by a bus while walking across the street.
Adjectives are words that describe nouns or pronouns. They may come before the word they describe (That is a cute puppy.) or they may follow the word they describe (That puppy is cute.).
Adverbs are words that modify everything but nouns and pronouns. They modify adjectives, verbs, and other adverbs.
A word is an adverb if it answers how, when, or where.
The only adverbs that cause grammatical problems are those that answer the question how, so focus on these.
- Generally, if a word answers the question how, it is an adverb. If it can have an -ly added to it, place it there.
- She thinks slow/slowly.
- She thinks how? slowly.
- She is a slow/slowly thinker.
- Slow does not answer how, so no -ly is attached. Slow is an adjective here.
- She thinks fast/fastly.
- Fast answers the question how, so it is an adverb. But fast never has an -ly attached to it.
- We performed bad/badly.
- Badly describes how we performed.
When this, that, these, and those are followed by nouns, they are adjectives. When they appear without a noun following them, they are pronouns.
- This house is for sale.
- (This is an adjective here.)
- This is for sale.
- (This is a pronoun here.)
This and that are singular, whether they are being used as adjectives or as pronouns. This points to something nearby while that points to something "over there."
- This dog is mine.
- That dog is hers.
- This is mine.
- That is hers.
These and those are plural, whether they are being used as adjectives or as pronouns. These points to something nearby while those points to something "over there."
- These babies have been smiling for a long time.
- These are mine. Those babies have been crying for hours. Those are yours.
The word good is an adjective, while well is an adverb.
- You did a good job.
- Good describes the job.
- You did the job well.
- Well answers how.
- You smell good today.
- Describes your odor, not how you smell with your nose, so follow with the adjective.
- You smell well for someone with a cold.
- You are actively smelling with a nose here, so follow with the adverb.
A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. Pronouns can be in one of three cases: Subject, Object, or Possessive.
NOTE: The only time it's has an apostrophe is when it is a contraction for it is or it has.
It's a cold morning.
The thermometer reached its highest reading.
Reflexive pronouns - myself, himself, herself, itself, themselves, ourselves, yourself, yourselves- should be used only when they refer back to another word in the sentence.
- I worked myself to the bone.
- Incorrect:My brother and myself did it.
- The word myself does not refer back to another word.
Who refers to people. That and which refer to groups or things.
Anya is the one who rescued the bird.
Lokua is on the team that won first place.
She belongs to an organization that specializes in saving endangered species.
That introduces essential clauses while which introduces nonessential clauses.
I do not trust products that claim "all natural ingredients"
Because this phrase can mean almost anything, we would not know which products were being discussed without the that clause.
The product claiming "all natural ingredients," which appeared in the Sunday newspaper, is on sale.
The product is already identified. Therefore, which begins a nonessential clause.
NOTE: Essential clauses do not have commas surrounding them while nonessential clauses are surrounded by commas.
If this, that, these, or those has already introduced an essential clause, you may use which to introduce the next clause, whether it is essential or nonessential.
That is a decision which you must live with for the rest of your life.
Those ideas, which we've discussed thoroughly enough, do not need to be addressed again.
NOTE: Often, you can streamline your sentence by leaving out which.
That is a decision which you must live with for the rest of your life.
That is a decision you must live with for the rest of your life.