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"A high school, a private hospital and several apartment blocks are among the buildings identified with combustible cladding similar to what fuelled the Grenfell Tower fire."

I read this sentence and it seemed to me that there was something not right about it. I don't know why but the use of "what" seemed wrong to me. I think a better sentence would read as follows.

"A high school, a private hospital and several apartment blocks are among the buildings identified with combustible cladding similar to that which fuelled the Grenfell Tower fire."

I'm interested to know, am I correct and if so why ?

  • Both versions are fine. I find to that which to be both slightly more formal and less natural sounding. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Sep 18 '18 at 3:59
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I think the original version is possible as a more general reference to another material as 'a fuel'. 'What' fuelled the Grenfell Tower fire wasn't necessarily a 'similar cladding' as it appears in case of using 'which'. It could be a different kind of material (e. g. a penetrating chemical), similar in its danger in the situation of fire.

That combustible cladding was similar to what [= the improper kind of material which] fuelled the Grenfell Tower fire.

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