Thursday, July 10, 2014


Semi Rant Warning.

It seems I've posted endlessly about the misuse of Who, Which, That. I've certainly raged enough internally when I hear the words misused, which is all too frequently. Most of the time people look at me as though I've lost my sense of humor. No big deal, they might say. It's not as if the words aren't interchangeable.


Use which for things and who for people. Use that for things and, informally, for people.
Make it simple: Who is for people. That and Which are for things. The 'informally' seems to have crept into use fairly recently since the last time I checked the rule was very clear. The same as using 'laconic' to describe facial expressions, and now I doubt many people know the definition of laconic. I didn't when I first read it, and had to look it up. Looked it up again when a well known author used it to describe a lifted eyebrow.


Yeah, I sigh a lot. But then I read a gem, such as this by Doranna Durgin from her Sentinel Shifter book  Tiger Bound

Emphasis mine "She looked down at him, this man WHO had come for her, and at the monstrously huge creature THAT accompanied him—"

How perfect is that? The man is WHO the creature is THAT. And for those writers of Urban Fantasy with shifters, what better way to convey how they feel about their animals selves? If the POV character thinks of other shifters as WHO when they are in their alternate form, the writer is SHOWING the character is comfortable with their 'other' self. But if they use THAT, we would know they're really not happy about the 'monster' living under their skin.


And as far as using THAT as an extra word in a sentence, you might want to rethink. In the preceding paragraph I originally wrote: "...the writer is SHOWING that the character is comfortable with their 'other' self." Upon rereading, I removed 'that' as an extraneous word, slowing down the narrative. Sometimes 'that' is the perfect word but far too much of the time it's makes our writing cumbersome.

Think about it, especially if you write characters who are 'more than.'

What are your grammar gremlins? Let's grab a cup of coffee and rant on.

Mona Karel is the writing alter ego of Monica Stoner who lives at 6500 feet and has been known to growl when hearing the English language abused.

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