0

(1) I called out to the student who was turning around to see me.

(2) I called out to the student, who was turning around to see me

I understand the comma before who makes a difference in the meanings of the two sentences. I also understand that the relative pronoun who can be replaced with the relative pronoun "that" in sentence (1).

But what about the relative pronoun who with a comma? Can it be replaced with the relative pronoun that? I think it cannot be replaced.

Could you help me clarify it? Thank you always.

2

You're correct (in your last suggestion): that may replace the relative who in a restrictive relative clause (without a comma); but it may not do so in a non-restrictive relative clause (with a comma).

  • Yes, but there is a preference for "who" when the relativised element is subject, as it is here. – BillJ Feb 28 '18 at 20:15
  • I wasn't convinced that that was so, @BillJ, but the iWeb corpus seems to bear you out: 187 000 instances of "man who [verb]" against 19 000 of "man that [verb]". – Colin Fine Jan 18 at 20:06
0

In your example, using a comma is good

I called out to the student, who was turning around to see me.

to separate the subordinate clause.

Your alternative sentence

I called out to the student, that was turning around to see me.

would be understood, but "that" is usually used for things whereas "who" / "whom" are used for people.

The picture that hung on the wall...
The cat that sat on the chair...
The boy who watched TV...
The girl whom I kissed...

  • This may be a UK/NAm difference, but I have no problem with that for people. Also, you haven't answered the question. – Colin Fine Feb 28 '18 at 16:39
  • Supplementary (non-defining) that relatives are virtually unheard of, and only marginally acceptable. – BillJ Feb 28 '18 at 20:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.