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THAT vs. WHICH

THAT and WHICH indicate different things. Do not use them interchangeably.

That

THAT begins a phrase that is essential to the meaning of the word it modifies (it is “restrictive”). The phrase is not set off with commas.

In other words, a comma never precedes the word THAT:

We bought the chair that completes the dining room set.

Which

WHICH begins a phrase that is not essential to the meaning of the word it modifies (it is “nonrestrictive”). The phrase is set off by commas.

In other words, a comma precedes the word WHICH; in addition, you could leave out the entire phrase between the commas and the sentence would still stand on its own:

The new chair, which will be delivered tomorrow, completes the dining room set.

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