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1) Eventually, we developed a strategy, grounded in prospect theory and its associated biases like loss-aversion and availability heuristic, which exploited the tendencies of players to fold too often when they did not have money invested and fold too infrequently when they had money invested.

2) Eventually, we developed a strategy, grounded in prospect theory and its associated biases like loss-aversion and availability heuristic, that exploited the tendencies of players to fold too often when they did not have money invested and fold too infrequently when they had money invested.

My question is whether "which" or "that" is appropriate. Which word is better? Word says that "that" cannot follow a comma. Is there any basis to this?

marked as duplicate by anongoodnurse, Brian Hooper, choster, Hellion, aedia λ Jan 2 '14 at 23:15

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I would say that the relative clause following heuristic is defining. Its referent is a strategy, and the relative clause tells us exactly what kind of strategy it was, rather than merely providing additional information about it. As a defining relative clause, it can be introduced by either which or that. In that case, the comma after heuristic is misleading.

I will also say that, at least to non-specialist reader, the sentence as a whole is hard to read.

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"That" is not used in non-defining relative clauses. Your example contains a non-defining relative clause, hence "which" should be used.

  • I don't know much about 'non-defining relative clauses' but I did learn English at my mother's knee. I don't see much wrong with using either 'which' or 'that' in the example. – WS2 Jan 2 '14 at 9:18
  • Non-defining relative clauses tell us more about a person or thing that is already identified. This is Peter Stevens, who will be joining our team. Defining relative clauses identify a person or thing. This is a man who will be joining our team. – mick Jan 2 '14 at 9:48

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