RE: [sc] Campaign for Plain English



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From: Andy Reynolds (andy.reynolds(at)risktec.co.uk)
Date: Wed 04 Dec 2002 - 13:56:27 GMT


This is my last post on this subject (honest).

I was chatting to a friend about this subject over lunch, who kindly
explained to me all about split infinitives (something about the verb
coming first, apparently, but then she lost me when she started
wittering on about Star Trek ... ).

Nancy - could you please enlighten me as to when one should use 'them'
and when one should use 'those'.  I know its not really an appropriate
subject for this group, but I am sure that [which? ;-)] you will humour
me on this one.

Regards

-- Andy R 

> -----Original Message-----
> From: safety-critical-request(at)cs.york.ac.uk 
> [mailto:safety-critical-request(at)cs.york.ac.uk] On Behalf Of 
> Nancy Leveson
> Sent: 04 December 2002 13:27
> To: safety-critical(at)cs.york.ac.uk
> Subject: Re: [sc] Campaign for Plain English 
> 
> 
> 
>       I don't read that meaning. I wonder if that's another 
> difference between
>       US English and British English?
>       
> I doubt it, but there might be.  Unfortunately, the 
> distinction between
> these two words (which and that) is often not taught and 
> people tend to 
> alternate them throughout a document for variety (which is 
> what I did until
> Dave Parnas insisted I learn the difference while he was 
> reviewing a long
> paper of mine).  
> 
> The that/which distinction takes up six pages in Fowler's 
> Dictionary of 
> Modern English Usage.  Briefly, "that" is used to introduce a 
> restrictive 
> clause (one that is essential to the meaning) and "which" is used to 
> introduce a nonrestrictive or parenthetical clause. (There are formal
> names for these, but they don't help much if you don't know the formal
> grammatical meanings)
> 
> Dave taught me the difference using the following example:
> 
>    Cars that are dangerous should not be on the road.
>       (a sentence with which most people would agree)
> 
>    Cars which are dangerous should not be on the road.
>       (a sentence with which only fanatic bicyclists would agree)
> 
> Almost always, "which" has either a common or a parenthesis 
> in front of it 
> so the second sentence when it is correctly punctuated 
> (although that does 
> not change the meaning of the sentence even without the 
> comma) would be 
> written as:
> 
>     Cars, which are dangerous, should not be on the road.
> 
> Nancy
> 
> 

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