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This question already has an answer here:

A1. The dogs, which barked in the night-time, did not recognize the thief.

A2. The dogs which barked in the night-time did not recognize the thief.

B1. The dogs, that barked in the night-time, did not recognize the thief.

B2. The dogs that barked in the night-time did not recognize the thief.

As far as I know, both A1 and A2 are "standard" English and the their meaning, as one can notice, is rather different.

Could one replace which with that in both A1 and A2 cases without infringing the rules of grammar? Could the absence or the presence of punctuation (please, note the parenthetical commas) interfere with or impede in any way this replacement?

marked as duplicate by Mistu4u, Flimzy, bytebuster, Deco, ctype.h Feb 6 '13 at 23:21

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    As the answers at Mistu4u's link tell you, B1 is not permitted: which must be employed in non-restrictive clauses, which are signalled by commas. The others are just fine. – StoneyB Feb 6 '13 at 22:35
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    @StoneyB: If that rule were to be applied with any consistency, I doubt I'd be finding 1,730,000 results in Google Books for "those which do". I personally have cheerfully ignored the rule all my life, and I certainly don't consider myself illiterate. – FumbleFingers Feb 6 '13 at 23:10
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    @FumbleFingers You misunderstand me; I was unintentionally ambiguous. "In non-restrictive clauses, which must be employed." There's no rule (despite the pundits) against using which in a restrictive clause; but there is a rule against using that in a non-restrictive clause. – StoneyB Feb 6 '13 at 23:31
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    @StoneyB: Well, I certainly can't criticise the restatement! I think it says everything OP might need to know, so I'll upvote your comment rather than any answers! – FumbleFingers Feb 6 '13 at 23:54
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A1. The dogs, which barked in the night-time, did not recognize the thief.

All the dogs barked; none of them recognized the thief.

A2. The dogs which barked in the night-time did not recognize the thief.

Those dogs which barked did not recognize the thief. (There's an implication that there were other dogs, which did not bark.)

B1. The dogs, that barked in the night-time, did not recognize the thief.

I don't think this sentence is possible.

B2. The dogs that barked in the night-time did not recognize the thief. 

This one's fine. It means the same as A2, and some people prefer it, to avoid overworking which.

  • -1 In this context this is just too complex an analysis. You're giving too much information and getting away from the point of the question. Moreover, in this specific context, neither A1 nor B1 are natural sounding sentences, though they are grammatically correct. – temporary_user_name Feb 6 '13 at 21:42
  • @Aerovistae. I'm interested in your contention that sentence B1 is grammatically correct. I don't think it is. – TRiG Feb 11 '13 at 20:33
  • Yeah you win out on that one, I don't know why I said that. – temporary_user_name Feb 12 '13 at 7:30
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Really, you could use either that or which in this context. Which belongs to a slightly higher language. Either is correct, though.

The comma is simply wrong. It is not needed. I'll leave it to someone else who feels like explaining when to use a comma and when not to. I can't bring myself to get into it right now.

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    -1. A1 and A2 are both accurate, and mean different things. – TRiG Feb 6 '13 at 21:07
  • He's not asking about that kind of sentence. For his intended meaning, it's wrong. – temporary_user_name Feb 6 '13 at 21:46
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    Quote from the question: "As far as I know, both A1 and A2 are "standard" English and the their meaning, as one can notice, is rather different." – TRiG Feb 6 '13 at 21:48
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    In fact, OP specifically notes that two different meanings are in play here. – StoneyB Feb 6 '13 at 22:33
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    -1 No references to support your claims, and your laziness (we all get lazy, so I don't blame you for that) is no excuse for not explaining your "answer": If you feel too lazy to explain yourself, then don't answer. Wait until you've got the energy before making pronunciamentos. Support what you say and they become claims and, possibly, good answers rather than mere expressions of personal opinion. – user264 Feb 7 '13 at 1:51