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I was studying about the uses of that where I stumbled upon this common mistake pertinent to the use of 'that'.

For e.g:

The goalkeeper blocked two penalty kicks in the second half, and that made his team win the match.

This usage of that is wrong as 'that' can't refer to an action, such as blocking penalty kicks.

But the same resource says that the following example is correct.

Cicero lampooned Mark Antony in a series of orations, the Philippics and Antony later used that as the excuse to execute him.

The site mentions that here 'that' refers to ' a series' and not the lampooning.

Query #1. Can 'which' (which is also used to refer to a whole clause or sentence) be used in the first sentence?

Query #2. Though the writer says that in the Cicero's example, 'that' is referring to ' a series' but it appears to me that 'that' is referring to the 'lampooning'. How can we correctly resolve such problems (in such questions)?

The site referred to as the resource here is :https://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/gmat-sentence-correction-the-many-uses-of-that/

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    I don't accept "This usage of that is wrong as that can't refer to an action, such as blocking penalty kicks." I'd not consider 'The goalkeeper blocked two penalty kicks in the second half, and that (/this) effectively won the match for City.' to be unacceptable, certainly in a non-ultra-formal register. AHD includes: << that pron 1 ... c. Used to refer to the event, action, or time just mentioned: [He eventually left his job.] After that, he became a recluse. >> [And that was that.] – Edwin Ashworth Mar 10 '18 at 7:42
  • @EdwinAshworth I second that. – Lawrence Mar 10 '18 at 7:48
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    "That" can certainly have clauses as well as NPs as antecedent. Your two examples exhibit straightforward clause reduction but note that the second one is ungrammatical due to a punctuation error -- a comma is ungrammatical here. A full stop, semicolon or similar is required. – BillJ Mar 10 '18 at 8:26
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Query #1. Can 'which' (which is also used to refer to a whole clause or sentence) be used in the first sentence?

Traditionally, "that" is a restrictive pronoun, while "which" is a non-restrictive pronoun.

For example:

  • Ghosts that wail scare me. (In other words, I'm scared by wailing ghosts---but I might be okay with quiet ghosts.)
  • Ghosts, which wail, scare me. (In other words, I'm scared by ghosts. Incidentally, ghosts wail.)

Although some people will use them interchangeably in some situations, it's more common to make a distinction between the two.

However, if you were to replace "and that" with "which" in the first sentence (it's important that "and" is not left), some people might whine about it---but nobody would misunderstand the meaning. Whether it would actually be grammatically correct (from a strictly technical point of view) would depend on which school of grammar you follow.

Also, I completely disagree with the source that says a pronoun cannot refer to an action:

"I like to eat breakfast for dinner."

"Oh, I like doing that too!"

Query #2. Though the writer says that in the Cicero's example, 'that' is referring to ' a series' but it appears to me that 'that' is referring to the 'lampooning'. How can we correctly resolve such problems (in such questions)?

Personally, I agree that it refers to the "lampooning." However, if you want to avoid any possible confusion, the best method of doing so is to clarify or rephrase.

  • Cicero lampooned Mark Antony in a series of orations. The Philippics and Antony later used the lampooning as the excuse to execute him.

Note: I also corrected the use of the comma, which was ungrammatical.]

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"Which" cannot substitute for "that" in the first example, as the "and" would become both redundant and nonsensical. "And that" is lazy and poor construction, but in my opinion still acceptable.

In the Cicero example, I agree that the "that" clearly refers to the lampooning.

Difficult to answer the question asked, as I do not see a problem either. I disagree with the source quoted.

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