Apr 6, 2013

How to Use the Relative Pronouns, Who and Which, and That

I am now reading the book, Adrian Wallwork’s “English for Writing Research Paper.” Even though I have not finished reading this book yet, I’d like to recommend it strongly especially for non-native English speakers.

Basically the author tried to show researchers that are non-native English speakers how to write a more readable research papers. In fact, the book itself is easily readable and clear, so it is a good resource for writing a readable paper.

For many years, I had a question about how to use the relative pronouns, who and which, and that. This book explained it quite clearly:
Here is an example using who and that, which should help to clarify the difference between adding extra information (S6) and making a definition (S7). 
S6. My sister, who lives in Paris, is a researcher.S7. My sister that lives in Paris, is a researcher. 
In S6 the information contained between the two commas is not essential. S6 tells the reader that I have only one sister and she is a researcher – the fact that she lives in Paris is just additional information. I could simply say: My sister is a researcher. 
But in S7 I am giving very different information. I am telling you that I have more than one sister, and that the sister that lives in Paris is a researcher. Perhaps my other sister is a doctor and I am using Paris to distinguish between my two sisters.

As I wrote, the author’s aim was not elegance but readability. He just tried to write this book more readably, but consequently it also became elegant.

I think that I, as a non-native English speaker, would not be able to write rhetorical and literary English like native English speakers do, but I want to write readable, concise, clear, and elegant English like Adrian Wallwork does. Hopefully I will be able to do so someday.

My ambition is to show that even a non-native English speaker that lives in non-English surroundings can express things and thoughts in English. To put it strongly, this blog is a record of this challenge.

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