can I replace the words "that their function" with "whose function"?

For example:

"Ants have antennas which their function is to get signals from the environment."

Then I would like to replace these two words with one:

"Ants have antennas whose function is to get signals from the environment."

  • Not sure where you saw this sentence but "which their function" is not any sort of standard I'm familiar with. Your version is actually the more correct version of the two, though I'd prefer to rewrite the sentence in a way that doesn't require it at all... like getting rid of "function" entirely. Also, "signal" needs to be "signals" or "a signal".
    – Catija
    Nov 30, 2016 at 23:38
  • The "signal" was typo. anyway, if I change the "which" in "that" it would sound better for you? by the way why do you want so much to get rid of the function? (this is the terminology at the professional books. isn't it?) Nov 30, 2016 at 23:47
  • It really depends on where you're using this sentence. For me, something as simple as "Ants have antennas that get signals from the environment" is preferable and it's simpler. I don't know that calling out their function by using the word "function" adds anything to your sentence. I'm also not an academic, so if you're writing this for a journal or something fancy, it may not be formal enough...
    – Catija
    Nov 30, 2016 at 23:52
  • But I also feel like "get" is a bit generic... "receive" is a word that's regularly paired with "antennas"... and then I feel like half of the sentence is missing... What happens to them after they're received? "Ants have antennas that receive signals from the environment which are then ..."
    – Catija
    Nov 30, 2016 at 23:56
  • and then they can "sense" information. Dec 1, 2016 at 0:05

1 Answer 1


The plural of "antenna," first of all, is "antennae," not "antennas," unless you are referring to antennas on radios.

"Ants have antennae whose function is to get signals from the environment."

is the correct way to say this. "Which their function" is not a correct form in English. But an even better way to say this would be:

Ants have antennae which get signals from the environment


Ants' antennae get signals from the environment

or (proposed by @user178049)

Ants have antennae that get signals from the environment

  • 1
    What about ..have antennae that..? Dec 1, 2016 at 1:17
  • @user178049 Also works fine. I'll edit that in if you're okay with it.
    – CHEESE
    Dec 1, 2016 at 1:21

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