After doing technical writing/editing for years, I saw an ad for a job opening. The ad stated that the candidate must have the usual years of experience. Then it concluded with: "Must know how to use ‘which’ and ‘that’."
Well, I’d been using which and that, assuming that when my sentences flowed, everything was fine. The ad caused me to research the difference in the "Chicago Manual of Style" but I found that explanation rather unclear. Since then, I’ve gone back to those pages in "Chicago Manual of Style" several times, and the explanation still doesn’t clarify the issue for me.
Then I found "Grammar Traps"! Written by Los Angeles-based English and reading teacher Stephen Dolainski, "Grammar Traps" is wonderfully clear. Dolainski makes his explanations simple. Each short chapter explains how to avoid one grammar mistake. Each chapter starts with Terms to Know and What’s Wrong with this Sentence?
The chapter on That, Which, and Who tells us:
"Use that to introduce a group of words that gives very important information about a noun."
"Which generally introduces a word group that does not provide essential information."
"Grammar Traps" follows such statements with immediate examples, clarifying each grammar rule. This book belongs on the bookshelf of every writer. It’s a small grammar reference book where we’ll find the common grammar answers we need.
As a former Documentation Manager who has had heated discussions with writers on the subject of its vs. it’s, I suggest that all of us buy a copy for every writer we know.
Available from http://www.amazon.com and http://www.grammartraps.com.
Reviewed by Virginia Lawrence
–© 2004 Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. SPAWN's Webmaster and Technology Editor, Virginia is a professional Web Developer and Online Marketing Consultant. She routinely places client sites on the first page of a Google search. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her Web site at http://www.cognitext.com.