Word Choice


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Term Definition

whether/if

Use 'whether' when listing alternatives and 'if' when referring to a future possibility.

which/that

Clauses including which are nonrestrictive (nonessential) and clauses that include that are restrictive (essential). Nonrestrictive clauses and phrases are set off from the rest of a sentence by a pair of commas or by a single comma if they come at the end of the sentence. For example, “The pen, which was blue, fell off the desk”; here there was only one pen and it was blue and it fell off the desk. Or, “The pen that was blue fell off the desk”; here there were at least two pens, only one of which was blue, and it fell off the desk.

while/whereas

while indicates time and a temporal relationship; whereas, often the word the writer intended, has such meanings as “when in fact”, “that being so”, and “in view of the fact that

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