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"Acme is an open development platform which enables the distribution of knowledge between IT experts and organizations globally."

Is it which or that? I've read online quite a bit, including this site, and generally people refer to "one of many (that)" vs "only one (which)". But here, I can't use that type of thinking.

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, Jason Bassford, Community Nov 7 '18 at 16:39

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    Possible duplicate of When to use “that” and when to use “which”? Also consider Is there any difference between “which” and “that”? on English Language Learners, which has 110 votes and is probably a more suitable site for the question. – FumbleFingers Nov 7 '18 at 15:05
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    It's whichever one you prefer; this is one of the many free choices that English leaves to the speaker. In general, the shorter a relative pronoun is, the less attention it calls to itself and the more to its antecedent, which is what it's sposta do. On that criterion, that is preferable, since it'll be reduced, where which wouldn't. – John Lawler Nov 7 '18 at 15:06
  • Stylistically speaking, in US English, which is normally used only for nonrestrictive relative clauses and that for everything else. In UK English they are mostly interchangeable. The accepted answer given to the question suggested as a duplicate is correct only in a very narrow sense because it doesn't mention US English versus UK English at all and it also doesn't discuss grammar versus style. The better answer there is the unaccepted one with almost as many votes. – Jason Bassford Nov 7 '18 at 15:16
  • Despite what some usage manuals say, it's a free choice between "that" and wh relatives, as JL said. There are a couple of exceptions, but they have to do with preference, not grammatical correctness. – BillJ Nov 7 '18 at 15:18
  • I think that if this question were rephrased to ask whether the relative clause is restrictive or nonrestrictive, it would not be a duplicate. The linked answer explains that both that and which are OK in restrictive clauses, which is true, but doesn't fully answer this OP's question IMHO. – ruakh Nov 8 '18 at 2:43

The correct usage is that because the second part of the sentence is an essential clause. Without including that information, the sentence loses its meaning.


The Elements of Style (Strunk & White), under Misused Words and Expressions:

That. Which. That is the defining, or restrictive, pronoun, which the nondefining, or nonrestrictive.

Gregg's Reference Manual, paragraph 1062b:

Which and that are used when referring to places, objects, and animals. Which is always used to introduce nonessential clauses, and that is ordinarily used to introduce essential clauses.

(Edit: mistyped an italics tag)

  • As to Strunk & White's utter nonsense about that/which, see Pullum: ling.ed.ac.uk/~gpullum/50years.pdf – KarlG Nov 7 '18 at 16:30
  • Thank you - interesting read! I suppose that in writing product literature for a technical audience, I read Strunk and White in a much different context than someone in an academic field might. Pullum argues that the advice about not using which is "... an instance of failure to look at the evidence," goes on to say that "19th-century authors whose prose was never forced through a 20th-century prescriptive copy-editing mill generally alternated between which and that." A lot has changed since the 19th century! – Bryan Pettit Nov 7 '18 at 16:57
  • Integrated -wh relatives with non-personal heads have been occurring in impeccable English for about 400 years. Among the most famous cases are sentences that everyone will recall hearing, such as "a date which will live in infamy" (American Franklin D Roosevelt's remark about the day of the 1941 Pearl Harbour attack) and "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's" (King James Bible 1611). – BillJ Nov 7 '18 at 17:48
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    @KarlG I love that article you linked to. The next time someone says something to me about passive voice or splitting infinitives, I'm going to print it out, roll it up, and smack them on the nose with it. – Kevin Nov 7 '18 at 18:49

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