Which one is correct?

  • Do not pretend to perceive WHICH is not there.
  • Do not pretend to perceive WHAT is not there.

Used in the following:

  • What you don't know is that I feel pain in ways that you cannot seem to be able fathom.

  • I understand the unwanted and abused.

  • I understand the victims and I understand the bullies.

  • I'm from both lands.

  • But let's get this one thing straight, you don't know anything about me.

  • You know what I want you to think you know and that's it.

  • Do not pretend to perceive* WHICH/WHAT *is not there.

  • 1
    You might be able to figure this out on your own; there are several columns written about this.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 10:29
  • I think "that" is missing here. "that which is not there" / "that what is not there". Or is it implied?
    – Mamta D
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 12:16

1 Answer 1


"...perceive which is not there." is ungrammatical.

You could try "...perceive that which is not there." -- it's grammatical, although a bit formal/poetic.

"...perceive what is not there." is grammatical, and more colloquial.

However, "...perceive that what is not there." is not.

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