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Is this sentence natural or at least grammatically correct?

At least he is not a simp, which many people are.

I was told that which shouldn't be used to refer to people, which seems to be confirmed by this writingcenter:

Pronoun Stands For
who people
whom people
whose people or things
that people or things
which things
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    It doesn't refer to people but to "a simp", a type of person.
    – BillJ
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 8:39
  • You don't need to use a "pronoun" at all. To my ear, the natural phrasing is At least he isn't a simp, as many people are. But syntactically, which is the only acceptable choice given above. Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 12:09
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    I think you are interpreting "Don't use which for people" too broadly. It means that you say "a person who" and not "a person which"; it doesn't mean you can't ever use which in the context of people.
    – stangdon
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 12:39

2 Answers 2

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It's not great poetry, but it's fine.

A "simp" may be a person, but it is also a thing.

Think of plumbers. They're people but they're also a profession (at least in abbreviation).

"This uniform is usually worn by plumbers, [one of ]which I am."

"Who" wouldn't work either here or in your example, as "who" would signal a particular flesh-and-blood person rather than category of person (whether it be a profession, an ugly intellectually category or something else).

Neither would "that", because it's not in a defining clause (one which identifies the particular person or thing you're talking about) but rather a non-defining clause (one which provides a new piece of information on an already identified person - in my case, me ... and in yours, 'he').

There's a joke about a double question that's reputed to have been asked far too often in the bad old days in Belfast: "who are ya, what are ya?", which is an inquiry about your name and background (including the neighbourhood and family you grew up in, where you went to school and what you do with your day).

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Firstly "simp" is a rather nasty little word. Avoid it.

To expand slightly on BillJ's comment. One would use "who" when describing a person, but "which" when describing a type of person. Compare these two sentences

John is a butcher who won a prize for his burgers.

John is a butcher, which is one of the oldest professions.

The first is a description of John, the second is a description of the job. The second correctly uses "which".

In your example "simp" is type of person. It is a misogenistic word for a type of man. You should not use this kind of word.

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  • Just to supplement the comments about the word 'simp' - using the word 'simp' strongly sets the level of discourse expected, and yes, it's very low. So if you actually made that statement, it's unlikely you'd get a critique of your usage of relative pronouns, but more likely to get a response like "Look who's calling someone else a simp.".
    – JonathanZ
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 19:17
  • I would think any gender could be called a "simp", calling it misogynistic seems to imply that it's mainly reserved for women but your answer says it's a type of man. Is it? And shouldn't the word be misanthropic (hatred of people) or misandristic (hatred of men)?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 19:21
  • @Mari-Lou, you may be misunderstanding "simp". It isn't short for "simple" or "simpleton". It a man who attempts to be nice or "sympathetic to women in a failing attempt to gain sexual response and is therefore dominated and abused by them. It is part of a misogenistic classification in which all women are "hoes" or "frigid" and men are "bros" or "chads" or "simps" etc. It is part of a very nasty internet subculture.
    – James K
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 23:02
  • Well.... dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/simp so I guess I'm out of touch with this (recent?) development of slang. But the "which most people are" did threw me off. It didn't sound misogynous to my naive Italian ears :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 23:08
  • My eyes have been opened. Who knew?! Very unpleasant, I agree
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 23:13

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