I know that 'which' and 'that' open non-restrictive and restrictive clauses, respectively. However, intuitively, it seems to me that they don't have the same functions in the phrases 'for which reason' and 'for that reason'.

Does 'for which reason' mean 'for one reason of an undefined number of reasons'.
and 'for that reason' mean 'for only this reason'.

What is the difference of 'for which' and 'for that' as used in the above examples?

Thank you

  • Care must be taken to distinguish different 'incarnations' of 'a word'. In The shuttle bus, which is yellow, should be here shortly and The shuttle bus that is yellow should be here shortly, which and that are relative pronouns. Their antecedent is 'the shuttle bus'. In 'He lost in straight sets, which is what I predicted', the antecedent is the entire preceding independent clause. But in 'He had a side-strain, for which reason he lost in straight sets', which (not for which) is a determiner, 'modifying' (addressing) reason. Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 9:42
  • Your premise is mistaken. That is used only with restrictive clauses, but which may be used with either restrictive or non-restrictive clauses. Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 11:40
  • @EdwinAshworth thanks for the comment. Great point about minding different 'incarnations'. To me, it seems that 'for that' could replace 'for which' in your example 'He had an injury, for which reason he lost.' Is there a difference between the two when they serve in that capacity?
    – Hal
    Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 12:07
  • You'd need a stronger interruption than is provided by a comma: 'He had a side-strain; for this / that reason he lost in straight sets.' A dash or separate sentences would also be correct here. In any case, most people would say: 'He had an injury - that's why he lost' or 'He had an injury, which is why he lost.' Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 19:20

1 Answer 1


The phrases have the same meaning but they are used differently. You can use which but not that as a sentential relative clause:

He eats too much, which is why he is unfit.

*He eats too much, that is why he is unfit.

The second "sentence" above is a comma splice and to be avoided. You need to start a new sentence after much, or separate the clauses with a semi-colon. The same applies when which/that are replaced by for which reason/for that reason:

He eats too much, for which reason he is unfit.

*He eats too much, for that reason he is unfit.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.