Checking in

minnow at minnow at
Sat Jan 24 16:20:28 EST 2004

Charlie did some lovely forensic work on the sentence I was worrying (as
with a rogue dog and a sheep, in my case) and added

>By the way, how seriously do people take the 'which/that' distinction? On a
>strict interpretation of that rule, your friend's sentence ought to have had
>a 'that', anyway.

Ex-friend.  As in, it ought to have been more like "This sort of attention
to detail, which is so good, makes the book feel so right." if he were
using "which" you mean?  That would have the merit of clarity, but probably
wasn't what he meant.  No, actually I think that sucks too, on stylistic
grounds, I hate the construction "This makes the book feel so [anything]",
"so" is a woolliness, a filler-word, either the thing is right or it isn't,
if it's right and it's good what does "so" add?  No, I'm being unfair.  I
have too much to do with adolescents.  "Ooohh, you are *so* not listening!"
has soured me.  I find myself saying, "And I'm like, 'What'?"  <raises
hands slightly, eyebrows akimbo>  :-)

As with "round" and "around" ("he sailed round the world" versus "he sailed
around the world", and "he turned round" versus "he turned around", not as
in a circular thing being one of them), and likewise "shall" versus "will"
in every possible situation, the gentleman writer had very firm views,
backed by arguments, as to where and how one should use "which" or "that".
The chances are therefore that he wrote as he did with deliberation.

Hey, but he was absolutely sound on "may" and "might", as far as I
remember!  :-))


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