After reading this article suggested by a friend, I feel more confused about the rules on how to use these words correctly.

I have some examples below:

  1. Pluto is a planet which revolves around the sun.
  2. Pluto is a planet that revolves around the sun.

Here's another pair:

  1. The book mentions some gardening tips which can be easily applied.
  2. The book mentions some gardening tips that can be easily applied.

One more:

  1. Every guy which arrives at the airport must pass a security check.
  2. Every guy that arrives at the airport must pass a security check.

Are there really some hard and fast rules like which one to use in every sentence like I mentioned above or are they interchangeable in above cases?


"That" and "which" are interchangable when the relative clause is restrictive. So all versions are fine except #5; you should use "who".

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  • Just wanted to confirm that the cited article told me to use 'which' restrictively only when it is preceded by a preposition. – user92131 Dec 15 '18 at 12:34
  • Examples 5 & 6 would read better if you lost the introductory preposition for and the comma. That's unless you mean **Because ** every guy..... as if in response to a question. – Ronald Sole Dec 15 '18 at 14:22
  • I think there is a typo. It should be "you must pass.." – user178049 Dec 15 '18 at 14:55
  • Okay, I corrected it. Why doesn't any article on Internet on "Which vs That" tell me that it is okay to interchange in these cases? They are all saying to use "which restrictively only when it is preceded by a preposition". – user92131 Dec 15 '18 at 15:10
  • @user92 most of the articles are written by prescriptivists. I recommend you read this good answer ell.stackexchange.com/questions/5/… – user178049 Dec 15 '18 at 15:20

The distinction between "that" and "which" is one that only a certain subset of prescriptive grammarians cares about. No-one makes the distinction in everyday speech, or even in reasonably careful writing.

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