That/Which/Who/Whom (Pronouns)

That/Which/Who/Whom (Pronouns) – These rules are both simple (that and which = not used to describe people; who = used to describe people; whom = used when the person being described is the object of an action—when something happens to this person) and complex (find out more). Here are some examples illustrating the simple aspect:

  • I used to drive a Toyota that wouldn’t go over 100 mph.
  • I know a stunt car driver who won’t eat eggplant.
  • I eat tons of eggplant, which is not as good for you as, say, broccoli.
  • I later met up with Sheila, whom I hugged for what must have been five minutes.

You get the idea. The difference here is, are you writing about a person? Or are you writing about a thing? Is the action happening to the person? Or is the person acting?

Animals take who, according to me; other writers may tell you to use that when referring to animals: Compare “I used to have a cat who caught moles” to “I used to have a cat that caught moles.” Both sound okay, but I prefer the first. Animals, like people, have their own agency, or ability to act, in the world.

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