English as a Second Language/that and which


hello.i wanted to know the difference between that and which?

Hi Anabell,

most times, most people use 'which' and 'that' interchangeably, but as a rule of thumb, you should use 'that' before a restrictive clause and 'which' before everything else.

A restrictive clause is a part of a sentence that you can't omit because it specifically restricts some other part of the sentence.

For ex: The proposal that you wrote yesterday was rejected.

"that you wrote yesterday" is the restrictive sentence here. It 'restricts' the proposal you're talking about, and by omitting it the meaning of the sentence changes.

A non restrictive clause is a part of a sentence you can leave out without changing the meaning of the initial sentence.

For ex: My blue shoes, which I paid $ 100 for, match the color of my best friend's car.

"which I paid $ 100 for" is the non restrictive sentence here. It can be left out, yet the meaning of the original statement does not change whatsoever.

Please let me know if this answers your question, and feel free to follow up if you require further information.


Amy Baker

English as a Second Language

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Amy Baker


I can answer question about grammar, spelling, syntax, idioms, reading and/or writing that pertain to English as a Second Language. I am knowledgeable about both TOEFL and IELTS.


I'm a certified ESL teacher with 12 years of experience teaching K-12 and adults.

BSc MEd TESL post grad program for k-12 TESL post grad program for adult ed

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