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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Criminal Sentence 234: Who and That

From today's newspaper:

"This is a boy that went from obscurity to mega-fame in a very short space of time and who had to open himself up very, very quickly."

This is a very confused sentence. It uses both a "that" clause and a "who" clause to refer back to "boy." Traditionally, you use "who" clauses to refer to people and "that" clauses to refer to things. You are allowed, however, to use "that" clauses to refer to people if you want, but I don't think it's OK to use one of each in the same sentence. Pick "who" or "that" and then stick with it, please. I personally prefer "who."

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