Which vs. That

Which vs. That

Many people get confused on whether to use which or that in a sentence.  There is a handy rule you can use to get it right.

If the sentence doesn’t need the clause that the word in question is connecting, use which.  If it does, use that.  The below may illustrate this a little better.

Our spaceship, which has two cargo bays, is located near Mars.

Our spaceship that has two cargo bays is located near Mars.

These sentences are not the same.  The first sentence tells us you have just one spaceship, and it’s located near Mars.  The clause which has two cargo bays gives us additional information, but it doesn’t change the meaning of the sentence.  Remove the clause and the location of our one spaceship would still be clear : Our spaceship is located near Mars.

The second sentence suggests that we have multiple spaceship, but the spaceship with two cargo bays is located near Mars.  That phrase that has two cargo bays is known as a restrictive clause because another part of the sentence (our spaceship) depends on it.  You cannot remove that clause without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Writing Resources

Writing Resources

There are so many resources out there on how to write.  This post will list some of the key ones I suggest you download or reference.  They each have been extremely useful and informative.  If you have any others that you think I should add to my list … let me know.

The Elements of Style [W Strunk & E.B. White]

The original of this manual came out in 1920 and has been a must have for all writers over the years.  It is a clear and concise manual that even I can follow 😉  You can either purchase it from the normal channels, or you can do a bit of a google and find a free copy to download.  Whichever way you go, make sure it’s part of your arsenal.

Grammar Girl Website

Grammar Girl provides short, friendly tips to improve your writing. Covering the grammar rules and word choice guidelines that can confound even the best writers, Grammar Girl makes complex grammar questions simple with memory tricks to help you recall and apply those troublesome grammar rules. Whether English is your first language or second language, Grammar Girl’s punctuation, style, and business tips will make you a better and more successful writer.

This one needs to go on your website favourites link.  http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl

Elements Of Fiction Writing [Orson Scott Card]

You’ll love this book if:

  • You want to hone your fiction writing skills
  • You’re new to writing fiction or need to help develop your characters
  • You’re looking for advice on choosing a point of view in a novel or short story

K.M. Weiland YouTube Channel

This lovely author has a series of videos on YouTube that is a must.  She explains the different aspects of writing and does it in such a way that you come out of the experience that much more enriched and knowledgeable. https://www.youtube.com/user/KMWeiland


Online Collins Thesaurus and Dictionary

Having a crisis on spelling or finding a synonym?? Go no further than www.collinsdictionary.com.


10 Rules of Capitalization

10 Rules of Capitalization

Some people may tell you that there are far more than just ten rules of capitalization in English, and with everything that you have to remember, that may be true. Others may say that there are only three rules, and they are also correct. The truth is that, depending on how you organize the rules, the rules of capitalization may be many or few.

Most of the things we capitalize in English are what we call proper nouns. They are the names of specific, unique things.

  • If you are talking about one specific mountain (Mt. Fuji), state (Idaho, New South Wales) or street (Atlantic Ave.), use a capital letter for every word in the name.
  • However, when you are talking about a common thing of which there are many – like a mountain, a state or a street – don’t use a capital letter for those words.

Capitals are not used for articles (a, an, the) or prepositions (of, on, for, in, to, with, etc.).

Key Rules

1. Names of people

This one may seem obvious, but there’s also a catch. Of course, you capitalize the first letters of a person’s first, middle and last names (John Quincy Adams), but you also capitalize suffixes (Jr., the Great, Princess of Power, etc.) and titles.

Titles can be as simple as Mr., Mrs. or Dr., but they also apply to situations wherein you address a person by his or her position as though it’s their first name. For example, when we talk about President Lincoln, we are using his role as though it were a part of his name. We don’t always capitalize the word president. Indeed, we could say, “During the Civil War, President Lincoln was the president of the United States.”

2. Names of mountains, mountain ranges, hills and volcanoes

Again, we’re talking about specific places. The word ‘hill’ is not a proper noun, but Gellert Hill is because it’s the name of one specific hill. Use a capital letter to begin each word in the name of a mountain (Mt. Olympus), mountain range (the Appalachians), hill (San Juan Hill) or volcano (Mt. Vesuvius).

3. Names of bodies of water (rivers, lakes, oceans, seas, streams and creeks)

From here, it gets pretty easy. The same rules that apply to mountain names also apply to water names. A river is just a river, but the Mississippi River is a proper noun and must be capitalized, just like Lake Erie, the Indian Ocean and the Dead Sea.

4. Names of buildings, monuments, bridges and tunnels

Man-made structures also often have names. The White House, the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Lincoln Tunnel are a few good examples.

5. Street names

Capitalize both the actual name part of the name (Capital) and the road part of the name (Boulevard); both are necessary for forming the entire name of the street (Capital Boulevard).

6. Schools, colleges and universities

All of the words in the name of the educational institution should be capitalized. For example, Harvard University, Wilkesboro Elementary School, Cape Fear Community College.

7. Political divisions (continents, regions, countries, states, counties, cities and towns)

As is the case with regions of a country, the divisions may not always be political, but you get the idea. When you refer to New England, the Midwest, the Pacific Northwest or the South as a region (as opposed to a compass direction), you capitalize it. Also, continents (South America), countries (Belgium), states (Wisconsin), counties (Prince William County), cities (London) and towns (Lizard Lick) get capitalized.

8. Titles of books, movies, magazines, newspapers, articles, songs, plays and works of art

This one’s a little tricky when ‘and,’ articles or prepositions are involved. If ‘the’ is the first word in the given name of a work, it must be capitalized (The Washington Post, The Glass Menagerie). If ‘a’ or ‘an’ is the first word, it too is capitalized (A Few Good Men), and if a preposition leads the way, you guessed it: Capitalized (Of Mice and Men). However, if any of these words come in the middle of the title, it is not capitalized.

9. The first letter in a sentence

The last two rules are easy. Always capitalize the first letter of a sentence. If the sentence is a quotation within a larger sentence, capitalize it, but only if it’s a complete sentence. If it’s merely a phrase that fits neatly into the larger sentence, it does not require capitalization. Study the following two examples for clarification:

  • The waiter said, “My manager will be here shortly,” but he never came.
  • The waiter told us that his manager would “be here shortly,” but he never came.

10. The pronoun I

It’s only necessary to capitalize other pronouns when they begin a sentence, but ‘I’ is always capitalized.