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I realize that American authors typically use "which" in nonrestrictive clauses, and "that" in restrictive clauses. But I frequently have a problem deciding whether to make a clause restrictive or non-restrictive, particularly when the clause describes an object in a figure.

I was therefore hoping that the grammarians here could tell me which one of the following hypothetical sentences was correct or more correct than the others:

(A) The object on the right in Figure 1 resembles the object on the right in Figure 2 that indigenous artists used to represent their god

(B) The object on the right in Figure 1 resembles the object on the right in Figure 2, which indigenous artists used to represent their god.

(C) The object on the right in Figure 1 resembles the object, which indigenous artists used to represent their god, on the right in Figure 2.

(D) The object on the right in Figure 1 resembles the object that indigenous artists used to represent their god on the right in Figure 2.

Thanks very much.

  • They all look correct to me. In short, for US English, if you use a comma, use which; if you don't use a comma, use that. – Jason Bassford Sep 17 '18 at 18:48
  • I would rewrite the sentence as follows: "The object on the right in Figure 1 resembles the object (shown [or depicted] on the right in Figure 2) that indigenous artists used to represent their god ." But my reasons are highly persnickety and have less to do with real-world misreading by a human audience than with a strictly logical reading by a machine that has no tolerance for incidental ambiguity. – Sven Yargs Sep 27 '18 at 6:32
  • Thanks for the responses. I ended up rewriting the sentence essentially the way you did Sven. But I used commas, rather than parentheses, to appose "shown on the right . . .," because I thought that the sentence flowed a little better. – Skater Sep 28 '18 at 11:07
  • I was hesitant to make the clause following "Figure 2" non-restrictive by adding a comma and changing "that" to "which" because doing so suggested that the clause referred to Figure 2, rather then the object in the figure. Was my fear misplaced? Thanks in advance for the clarification – Skater Sep 28 '18 at 11:20

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