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RE: [PATCH] fix typos in ch07.xml

From: Rusk, Patrick <PRusk_at_wellington.com>
Date: 2004-01-12 18:09:18 CET

>> But I also notice that this patch changes about 20 instances of "which"
>> to "that". What rule are you following? Both words sound correct to my
>> ear, like it's just a stylistic choice. Is there some grammatical
>> justification for the substitution? (Maybe some rule in the Chicago
>> Manual of Style, or something?)
>
>The 'that' is correct. 'which' would be used to introduce a parenthetical
>phrase, which is set off by commas from the rest of the sentence, while
>that is used when the phrase is essential to the sentence's meaning.
>In the cases in the patch that I saw, the phrase in question was always
>essential, and thus that is correct.

e.g.

"The command that backs out changes to files is called "svn revert". This
command, which should be used with caution, requires an explicit target."

Note that the "which" phrase could be removed in the second sentence without
too much loss of meaning, because it only adds a parenthetical comment.
Removing the "that" phrase in the first sentence would seriously harm its
meaning.

Compare the two sentences above with the following:

"The command, which backs out changes to files, is called "svn revert".
This command that should be used with caution requires an explicit target."

That should sound wrong to most ears, or at least odd.

Finally, note the rule alluded to above that "which" phrases are set off by
commas and "that" phrases aren't. So, the following is just wrong
grammatically, though most people would probably understand its meaning.

"The command which backs out changes to files is called "svn revert". This
command, that should be used with caution, requires an explicit target."

My apologies to anyone on the list who isn't a native English speaker. I'd
hate to have to learn English as a second language.

Patrick Rusk

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Received on Mon Jan 12 18:10:08 2004

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