When using relative clauses, we encounter two types: defining and non-defining. We use commas with the former and not with the latter.

We know a lot of people who live in London.

John, who speaks French and Italian, works as a tourist guide.

In the first sentence, we can interchange who with that. In the second one, however, we can't because it's non-defining, right?

  • Yes, your logic looks OK to me.
    – user405662
    Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 4:52
  • @user405662 I have a Cambridge book which states that. I just want to make sure there is not exceptions. The name of the book is English Grammar In Use with Answers: A Self-study Reference and Practice Book for Intermediate Students of English by Raymond Murphy, page 190.
    – Nameless
    Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 4:53
  • How can there be exceptions to a rule that says something is not always true?!
    – Jim
    Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 5:39
  • 1
    @AndrewLeach It's "which", not "that", which is not used for people. "That" is fine for any noun whatever it means. What authority claims otherwise?
    – Rosie F
    Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 11:42
  • 1
    @AndrewLeach Fowler, MEU, 2nd ed., s.v. which, that, who, sect. 1. (A) of which and that, which is appropriate to non-defining and that to defining clauses; (B) of which and who, which belongs to things, and who to persons; (C) of who and that, who suits particular persons, and that generic persons.
    – Rosie F
    Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 12:31


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