... the body, authority, entity or person which establishes...

Is it correct to use "which" in this case? Or should it rather be "who", since the last element of the list is a person?

  • 2
    Yes, when working with a list, the most appropriate one for the whole class would be a better choice. Who does not work with "body", "authority" or "entity," but which can technically work with "person" ("person" is also a thing in the same class for the purpose of the context here). HTH.
    – Kris
    Aug 29, 2018 at 11:25
  • That sounds better to me than either who or which. Aug 29, 2018 at 12:42
  • 2
    I agree with @Kris - 'which' is what I would use.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 29, 2018 at 21:21
  • 1
    'That' seems to me to be optimal. Jul 15, 2023 at 18:08

1 Answer 1


In general, as Huddleston & Pullum (2002) note, the relative pronoun matches the last coordinate:

... the body, authority, entity or person who establishes...

That said, given the number of inanimate coordinates ("body," "authority," and "entity") at the start of the noun phrase, and since this is a restrictive relative clause, I think most speakers would prefer to avoid the problem by using that:

... the body, authority, entity or person that establishes...

  • Very dubious downvote. Attested, attributed ... and I'm with you that 'that' harmonises best here. Jul 15, 2023 at 18:09
  • It wasn't my downvote, but it was entirely deserved, because that should never ever be used for person. I do normally downvote any mention of H&P but in this case they've got it right, so my downvote on that is cancelled out by their who as last-coordinating.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 16, 2023 at 8:22
  • @AndrewLeach H&P say that "who" is more common with personal antecedents, but that "that" is perfectly acceptable. I'm inclined to agree.
    – alphabet
    Jul 16, 2023 at 13:20
  • Oh, OK. Downvote for H&P, as usual.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 16, 2023 at 17:47

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