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Which One: That or Who?

Updated: Aug 19

Most people use pronouns correctly because they replace nouns; however, relative pronouns cause problems for some writers. "That" and "who" have distinctive uses, so let's learn when to use them correctly by breaking down the following sentence.


  • Surprisingly, a statistically significant difference did not exist between patients THAT reported risky behaviors and patients THAT did not.


The pronoun “that” refers to non-human nouns (places or things) while “who” refers to human nouns (people). Since “that” in the sentence above refers to “patients” (i.e., people), the wrong relative pronoun is used and must be replaced with “who.”


  • Surprisingly, a statistically significant difference did not exist between patients WHO reported risky behaviors and patients WHO did not.


Nouns can refer to a person, place or thing, so when replacing a noun with a relative pronoun, be sure to use the correct one.


Cultivating Writers...one tip at a time!


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