1. Inferno, which/that was written by Dan Brown remained the most popular novel.
  2. Arnold prefers to watch movies which/that make him cry.


The basic difference between the two is that while THAT is used with the restrictive clause, WHICH is used for non-restrictive clause.

I might have confused you even more by using the words restrictive/non-restrictive clause.

Here is the thing –

The Restrictive clause is the one which is very important for the sentence, without which the sentence has no meaning or the meaning would be changed completely.

The Non-restrictive clause, on the other hand, is that which is not so important for the meaning and purpose of the sentence. Even if we remove them the meaning is very clear.

Consider the following sentences –

“Lions that have great build up are even scarier “

“Lions, which breed during winters, are animals to fear off”

In the first sentence that uses that, the restrictive clause is “have great build up” is the restrictive clause which defines that those lions which have great build up are scarier.

While in the second sentence, “breed during winters”  is non-restrictive one as even if we remove it the sentence has a clear and definitive meaning – that lions are scary animals. The part of the sentence” breed during winters” has no relevance with the fear, which is the main subject. Thus we can conclude if the clause that will follow after that/which has an important connection with the main subject (defining verb like fear in our case) then THAT will be used otherwise we will use WHICH.

Let’s consider another example –

“Bring the book kept on the top of the table which is painted blue.”

“Books that don’t have cover are kept on table top”

Here in the first sentence which is used as the table colour has no direct relevance with the book being brought, even if we don’t mention “blue colour”, the sentence has a meaning.

While in the second case that is used as “that don’t  have cover” has direct relevance with the books kept on the table top. Only those books that are without cover are kept over there. If we remove “don’t have cover” the sentence loses its meaning, hence THAT will be used here.

I hope that through this article I was able to clear your doubts regarding the use of which/that and it would be much easier for you to use them next time.

Answers: 1. Which 2. That .


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