A reader of my new "Watch Your Language" column on writermag.com asked me this:
"What I noticed a lot lately and bugs me is that people will use "that" when they should use "who." For example, "The man that sells ice cream on the corner retired." I always believed "who" should be used when talking about people, but since I see and hear "that" used so much, I started to doubt myself. Am I correct?"
This is a good question. My grammar sources tell me that Shakespeare and the Bible, for example, use "that" after a person. So although it isn't incorrect to use "that" after a person, it's more common to use "who," and I prefer "who."
Stick with "who" after a person, but it's OK to use "that" if you really must.
Ask Me a Question
If you have a writing, grammar, style or punctuation question, send an e-mail message to curiouscase at sign hotmail dot com.
Add Your Own Criminal Sentence!
If you find a particularly terrible sentence somewhere, post it for all to see (go here and put it in the Comments section).