valuable property owned by someone who wants to borrow money, that they agree will become the property of the company or person who lends the money if the debt is not paid back

Is it true that 'which' is the only thing that introduces a nonrestrictive clause?

How can we take the function of "that" here?

  • Why do you think it's non-restrictive?
    – Stuart F
    May 16, 2023 at 10:34
  • @Stuart F So,what is it?
    – Mr. Wang
    May 16, 2023 at 14:18
  • That's a mistake. There should be no comma before "that". Is that your question, or do you want to know something else about non-restrictive clauses?
    – gotube
    May 16, 2023 at 17:26

1 Answer 1


No, many words can introduce nonrestrictive clauses. However, only "which", "who(m)", and "whose" typically introduce nonrestrictive relative clauses.

The relative pronoun "that" is normally used only for restrictive clauses, so the standard guidance would be to omit the comma in your example sentence. Most people would follow that guidance, and including a comma there would often be considered an error.

However, people have greatly varying opinions about commas, and they tend to be put to a much wider variety of uses than other punctuation marks. Therefore, many people would consider that comma to be perfectly acceptable.

My recommendation is to stick to the standard guidance in your own writing but to accept the fact that many heretics refuse to bow to what they consider the tyranny of the English Academy and that we all just have to learn to live peacefully side by side with one another.

  • Therefore, can I assume that the nonrestrictive attributive clause immediately after the modified element must use "which","who"..., except "that"? If it is not immediately followed, it is similar to an ordinary parenthetical expression, so there is no need to use "which" to introduce the nonrestrictive attributive clause.
    – Mr. Wang
    May 17, 2023 at 2:21
  • @WingledTiger Whether the relative clause follows immediately or not makes no difference. The relative pronoun "that" should never introduce a nonrestrictive clause (with very few exceptions). May 17, 2023 at 2:32
  • Well, thank you. That's the Cambridge English Online Dictionary.
    – Mr. Wang
    May 17, 2023 at 2:40

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