Business Grammar: That or Which?

by Mary Cullen on Thu, May 6, 2010

Coincidentally, three clients requested clarification today about using “that” and “which” in a sentence. There is an easy rule to remember. “That” introduces essential information in a “restrictive clause.” “Which” introduces extra information in a “nonrestrictive clause.”

“That” Example:

  • “Business writing expertise is the skill that is most valued.” The clause “that is most valued” is essential to the meaning of the sentence, so the correct word is “that.” You cannot remove the “that” clause without changing the meaning of the sentence.

“Which” Example:

  • “We should all pay attention to David’s new product idea, which is likely to triple sales next year.” The second clause provides extra information, and it is not essential to the first clause. Therefore, “which” is correct.
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Topics: Business Grammar

Mary Cullen

About the author

Mary Cullen

Mary founded Instructional Solutions in 1998, and is an internationally recognized business writing trainer and executive writing coach with two decades of experience helping thousands of individuals and businesses master the strategic skill of business writing. She excels at designing customized business writing training programs to maximize productivity, advance business objectives, and convey complex information. She holds a B.A in English from the University of Rhode Island, a M.A in English Literature from Boston College, and a C.A.G.S. in Composition and Rhetoric from the University of New Hampshire.

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