Speaking of Which | Break Time

28 Jun,2013

By Vidya Heble


Speaking of Which is taking a break for a while, going on what is known as a hiatus. The dictionary describes it as a noun meaning “A pause or gap in a sequence, series, or process.” And the synonyms for it include the word “chasm”. Which is what one feels like leaping into, overwhelmed by the inexorable advance of bad grammar and the incomprehensible word arrangements that pass for sentences. Kidding; we’ll be back, so keep your eyes on MxMIndia.com.


This is probably the appropriate time to dwell on the column’s name. Specifically, the use of “which” versus “that”. It is true that the two words are interchanged at times, and there are even occasions when it is not incorrect to do so (usually the occasion involves a gun pointing at one’s head), but the fact is that there is a specific rule governing the use of “which” as opposed to “that”. And the rule involves an instrument of torture known as a restrictive clause. It’s explained in this Writer’s Digest article: http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/which-vs-that and, even more entertainingly, by Grammar Girl: http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/which-versus-that.aspx


I couldn’t do better, so I’ll leave you with those links.


PS: If there is one recommendation I can give, it is this: Look It Up. Even if sounds right, just look it up anyway. I do, often, sometimes more than once. And I’ve been at it for 25 years. So don’t ever feel that looking it up is beneath you. Be it a fact, a word, a phrase, a name… with ever-increasing ways to check, there is no reason not to. If nothing, it’ll serve to avoid howlers like this one from a recent press release: “…welcomes its visitors with appeasing colors.”


And a point to note is that mistakes happen. Nobody’s perfect, and you shouldn’t let a mistake be the end of the world for you. But don’t make it a habit, either!


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