Let's say I'm describing what some person is currently doing, and I say:

He is reading articles which he is summarizing in his blog.

Is this sentence (and specifically, this usage of "which") correct?
Do I need a comma before it? Or do I need "that" instead?

(I know I can reword it into something else entirely, like changing the order into "He is summarizing the articles that he is reading in his blog" or something else, but that's not what I'm asking about here.)

Addendum from OP's comment: I have used the progressive tense because what I want to say that he is reading several articles and summarizing them at the same time as he is reading them. Also, I am not describing a habit, nor something in the future, but what is happening currently.

  • Closely related (and in the sidebar): english.stackexchange.com/questions/78/… – Andrew Leach Apr 24 '13 at 10:07
  • @AndrewLeach: Yup I've seen that, but I wasn't sure what to make of it, it didn't seem to answer my question (or perhaps I didn't understand it). – Mehrdad Apr 24 '13 at 10:09
  • Would people mind explaining why they're downvoting the question? – Mehrdad Apr 24 '13 at 16:29

Despite your comment that you don't want to reword the sentence, I think you have to. You ask whether "this usage of 'which' [is] correct ... [or] do I need 'that' instead?".

In the light of the additional information in your comment, I would say that neither "that" nor "which" is appropriate.

Using "that" or "which" suggests that you are qualifying (defining or describing) the articles, but you want the emphasis not on the articles, but on what 'he' is currently doing. To describe what he is currently doing, I would suggest:

He is reading articles and summarising them in his blog.
He is reading articles to summarise them in his blog.

  • +1 the second one doesn't convey the meaning I want, but the first one is the best alternative, thanks. – Mehrdad Jul 8 '13 at 23:57
  • Shouldn't the first sentence be "He is reading articles and is summarising them in his blog." (independent clause + dependent clause)? – Peter Mortensen Aug 23 '15 at 15:24

The sentence does not sound like natural English to me.

The use of the progressive for your relative clause sounds unnatural. It would be better using the present simple.

He is reading articles, (that or which) he summarizes in his blog. (I prefer that)

He's reading articles, (that or which) he'll summarize in his blog. (I prefer that)

This version is better if your are only talking about that action in isolation.

Your relative clause is non-defining, so it requires a comma.

Your alternative version actually changes the meaning of the sentence, i.e., the articles that he summarizes are in his blog as the relative clause has become a defining relative clause.

I would say that your sentence sounds awkward and unnatural even with my suggested correction and would only sound okay in a precise context.

  • Still reading your answer, but just a comment -- the reason for the progressive was that I literally meant to say that he is reading several articles and summarizing them at the same time as he is reading them, if that helps. It's not describing a habit, nor is it describing something in the future (it is happening currently). – Mehrdad Apr 24 '13 at 11:01
  • @RoDaSm: You suggest that that or which is suitable in either case, but that you prefer that. But you also state that the "relative clause is non-defining, so it requires a comma." That is contradictory. Your statement is correct if which is used, but a that clause is - by definition - a defining clause. Hence I've down-voted your answer. – TrevorD Apr 12 '16 at 10:34

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