Is It "Which" or "That"?

Mignon Fogarty

Is It

Is It "Which" or "That"?

Do you know when you should say "which" and when you should say "that"? Is it "Movies, which star Johnny Depp, make me happy," or "Movies that star Johnny Depp make me happy"?

Here's the quick and dirty tip: You use "that" with a restrictive element and "which" with a nonrestrictive element. As you just read, when a restrictive element is left out, it changes the meaning of the sentence. That must mean the "Johnny Depp" part of the sentence is restrictive, because without it, the sentence changes; not all movies make me happy--just the ones starring Johnny Depp. Therefore, the correct sentence is "Movies that star Johnny Depp make me happy." You can read more about "which" and "that" in restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses in my full episode on the subject.


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About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show.

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