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"But when you run away from a situation which/when/where/that you should've faced instead, the consequences might be, regret, disappointment, sadness, anger and disapproval from your loved ones."

I can't decide which word fits best after 'situation.' I'm pretty sure 'that' is correct, but what about the other ones?

Lastly, do we use different words depending on the context?

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    If it is a non-defining clause, you use "which". If it is a defining clause, you use "that".
    – Ammu
    Feb 21 '21 at 20:54
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In the sentence at issue:

But when you run away from a situation which/that you should've faced instead, the consequences might be regret, disappointment, sadness, anger and disapproval from your loved ones.

both "which" and "that" work. In this case in which the clause is restrictive (without commas), "which" and "that" are interchangeable.

They are not when the clause is non-restrictive (with commas), in which case only "which" works, for example:

  • When you ran away from that situation, which you should've faced instead, the consequences were regret, disappointment, sadness, anger and disapproval from your loved ones.

The relative pronoun functions as the object within the relative clause (you should have faced a situation).

The relative pronoun "where" will only work if it is equivalent to "in which":

  • But if you run away from a situation where (= in which) you should have been present instead, the consequences might be, regret, disappointment, sadness, anger and disapproval from your loved ones. (You should have been present IN a certain situation.)
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  • Can you think of a sentence where using 'which' would be correct and 'that' incorrect? Or the other way around. I just want to know if 'which' and 'that' are always interchangeable in this kind of context.
    – Ashraf
    Feb 23 '21 at 9:08
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    I've edited my answer to show you when only "which" is correct.
    – Gustavson
    Feb 23 '21 at 22:36
  • Thank you so much.
    – Ashraf
    Mar 4 '21 at 9:08
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“That” would be my choice, with “which” also being appropriate, though, to me, slightly more cumbersome.

However, in your particular example, I think it would sound best with none of them:

When you run away from a situation you should’ve faced instead...

This is perfectly acceptable and sounds a lot smoother to me.

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  • Can you think of a sentence where using 'which' would be correct and 'that' incorrect? Or the other way around. I just want to know if 'which' and 'that' are always interchangeable in this kind of context.
    – Ashraf
    Feb 23 '21 at 9:08
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    @Ammu mentioned something about defining and non-defining clauses, which you could read up on, but as a native speaker I'm generally ok to just "go by feel". I was going to follow that statement up with an example, then I realised that it is one. :) A general rule I seem to remember learning when I was younger was that if you need, or feel the need, to use a comma before the word, it should be "which", otherwise it's "that". I have no idea if that's correct, but it's served me reasonably well so perhaps you could play around with it.
    – Chris Mack
    Feb 23 '21 at 9:19

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