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Apologies for re-opening a discussion on this topic, nevertheless, I'd like to hear your opinion on this. Take this sentence:

There are ethical reasons that may lead John to opt for this choice.

My impression is that if in a sentence you can safely replace "that" with a gerund, then it's correct to use "that" (instead of which):

There might be ethical reasons leading John to opt for this choice.

I just wonder if this approach could be an easier shortcut for choosing between that/which.

Thanks!

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    It's really of no consequence whether the relative clause can be replaced with a gerund-participial clause. It is a free choice here between "that" and "which", despite the silly ban on integrated wh- relatives. There is no difference in meaning or in the syntax, other than what follows from "that" not being a pronoun, of course.
    – BillJ
    Feb 17, 2018 at 14:27
  • I prefer the “which, by the way,” substitution test because it more clearly gets at the restrictive/non-restrictive clause distinction.
    – Jim
    May 18, 2018 at 18:41
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    The two sentences do not mean the same thing. One says there might be reasons, the other says there definitely are. That is not the same thing. I don't like how this question is treating language like some kind of math problem to solve. The language is perfectly fine, leave it to its own devices. You can say that, or you can say which, and it's not something to work your way around in the process changing everything else, including what you're actually saying.
    – RegDwigнt
    Jun 17, 2018 at 21:17

1 Answer 1

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In a comment BillJ wrote:

It's really of no consequence whether the relative clause can be replaced with a gerund-participial clause. It is a free choice here between "that" and "which", despite the silly ban on integrated wh- relatives. There is no difference in meaning or in the syntax, other than what follows from "that" not being a pronoun, of course.

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