Difference between Who & That

Who and that are relative pronouns used to refer to people, animals, and objects. They are essential in the English language as they link phrases to other words in a sentence. However, people often use them incorrectly or interchangeably. This article aims to clarify their differences and proper usage.

As a general guideline, use who to refer to people and which to refer to things. That is a relative pronoun that can be confusing as it can refer to both people and things. When using the relative pronoun ‘that’ to refer to people, it is considered informal English. It’s essential to remember that that and which allow joining clauses or phrases that would otherwise remain separate.

Dictionaries generally state that who is used for people, while that is for objects and animals. However, in actual usage, that is flexible and can be used for people, objects, and animals. Here are some examples:

– I have a friend who can help in this matter.
– John has a master key that can open this lock.
– This is the jacket that I was talking about.
– He is the man who saved the drowning woman.

Key Takeaways

  • Both who and that, along with which, are relative pronouns.
  • Use who to refer to persons and use that to refer to animals and objects.
  • The use of that is flexible and can be used for people, objects, and animals.
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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