And that's what makes it ideal for AI research, say Microsoft, who own the game. BBC

What does "who" mean in this sentence? shouldn't we use which?


If we can use "who" & "which" with corporation. so when do we need to use each one of them? or it is matter of writing style?

  • 2
    A company can be understood to be a legal entity (which) or a personified organization or group of individuals (who). You will find it both ways.
    – TimR
    Mar 6, 2017 at 12:35
  • @TRomano why not put it in answer, it answers the question perfectly?
    – satnam
    Mar 6, 2017 at 12:37
  • @satnam: Because the question is likely to be closed as a duplicate.
    – TimR
    Mar 6, 2017 at 12:41
  • 1
    Why can't it be "that"? Mar 7, 2017 at 6:55

2 Answers 2


Both which and who belong to the category of relative pronouns in the field of grammar. They are also used as interrogative pronouns.

In the above case, both are correct, since the sentence is talking about a company. A company can be used as a person (as a group of persons) as well as a legal entity.

But within the context of the link article source, in my opinion, the word which would've been more suitable.


Although a dictionary will tell you that 'who' should only be used as a pronoun to introduce a clause for a person, not a thing or an entity, there are occasions where the name of a business or some other group entity is clearly used to represent the people within it. It's absolutely fine to use 'who' in such contexts when you are clearly speaking about the people within that entity.

For example:

  • We asked Microsoft, who said they had no comment at this time.

An entity cannot speak for itself. Clearly, the 'comment' came from the people working within the organisation, so it makes sense to use 'who'.

In your example of license ownership, the licence clearly belongs to the corporation, not any individual or group of individuals within it. The corporation could last for many years and the entire personnel, including the most senior executives, could change, yet the license would continue to be owned by the corporation as an entity. So, in this kind of example, it makes more sense to use 'which'.

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