You can never stop people who are wiling to die

May I use "that" instead of "who"?

3 Answers 3


‘That’ in your case is a pronoun which can replace the pronoun who.
Generally it is used as the subject or object of a relative clause, especialy one defining or restricting the antecedent, sometimes replaceable by who, whom, or which: the horse that he bought, the man that came, etc.

  • who and whom actually have specific use cases with which often native English speakers are not even familiar. for posterity, here are those rules: grammarbook.com/grammar/whovwhom.asp Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 8:01
  • @Metagrapher Oh, I'm so sorry. I'm also answering/editing the similar question of who/whom. This was my misunderstanding.
    – Maulik V
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 9:28
  • @Metagrapher Yeah. It was this - ell.stackexchange.com/questions/18420/…
    – Maulik V
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 9:30
  • @MaulikV Oh, you were asking the question? I shall provide an answer then :) Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 9:31

I have read and confirmed it in many places - both are okay though some believe that who-goes-with-people rule is still better. Nevertheless, that is a relative pronoun there so it'll also work.

Well, my personal choice is who as that (though serving as a relative pronoun) does not look used for a human/living thing as compared to who

Further reading here

  • Your reference says: It is "entirely" acceptable to write either the man that wanted to talk to you, or the man who wanted to talk to you - See more at: quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/… Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 7:42
  • 1
    I already said both are okay in my very first sentence! I then talked about my personal opinion. And the link is for further reading.
    – Maulik V
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 7:53
  • I don't think this is as hotly divisive as the article implies. They are interchangeable and most English speakers will not notice. That said, you frequently see "who" as a relative pronoun in hyperbole than in everyday speech. Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 8:09
  • 1
    This aligns with my view on the subject. In writing, I often find myself changing that to who in my second draft, simply because it sounds a little better. In speech, sometimes that will come out of my mouth, and it still passes as acceptable speech.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 9:25

Some people make a big deal out of it, but for instance in German relative pronouns "der", "die" and "das", which all correspond to the English "that", are used exclusively for this purpose. So it is not simply that ignorant people who do not know the difference use "that" instead of "who". I suspect that it has to do with the grammar of Germanic languages in general. Of course, you can use "who" to make the meaning clearer or to add emphasis. Using "that", however, is perfectly acceptable and, yes, it is correct.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .