When to Use Who or That

By eContent Pro on Mar 13, 2017
Who or That

Many writers are easily confused as to when they should use who or that in their as a pronoun in their sentence, as it is commonly misspoken. Luckily, there is one rule to help guide you to select the correct form, and we will explain this rule in this post.

When Should You Use Who or That

In this context, who and that are being used as relative pronouns, which are used to relate the subject of a sentence, or the noun that the sentence is about, to its object, which is the thing that is acted upon by the subject. These relative pronouns are being used to refer back to a person or thing that was previously mentioned.

Let’s look at some examples of this below.

Who or That Examples:

I have a friend who just went there.
In this case, who is referring to the friend.

Do you know a teacher who can help?
In this sentence, who refers to the teacher.

This is the key that fits in the front door.
In this example, that is referring to the key.

Rule for Determining Whether to Use Who or That

When you are determining whether you should use who or that, keep these simple guidelines in mind:

  • Who is always used to refer to people.
  • That is always used when you are talking about an object.
  • That can also be used when you are talking about a class or type of person, such as a team.

The Bottom Line

If you remember these guidelines, you will be able to use who and that correctly each time that you use them. If you are unsure of yourself when it comes to using these words, turn to eContent Pro for help.

Based in Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA, eContent Pro offers high-quality end-to-end editorial and publishing services, ensuring seamless workflows through the eContent Pro Business Enterprise Management System (BEMS), fast turnaround times, competitive pricing, and exceptional customer service. Since 1994, we have supported commercial publishers, university/library presses, organizations, and societies by streamlining their publishing workflow with innovative publishing solutions.

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