Grammar Wednesday Quick Hit

We’re in the middle of parent-student-teacher conferences here at CHS, so I’m in it up to my eyeballs.  Accordingly, you’re getting a quick hit Grammar Wednesday.

It’s people who and things that.

I had a kind of Abbott and Costello thing going on the other day with one of my freshmen.  She was starting an explanation with, “People that..” and I kept interrupting her with, “People who”  She couldn’t figure out that I was correcting her modifier; she thought I was asking for clarification of the people she was talking about and was starting to get annoyed with me that I wasn’t letting her get to the verbs.  Finally, I went to the board and wrote out “People who / things that.”  The light bulb went on over her head, but I’m still hearing her say “people that.”  I’ll keep at her – and the rest of her generation – about it.



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6 responses to “Grammar Wednesday Quick Hit

  1. This is one of my pet peeves! It’s not just that generation, though; I heard it yesterday in a 2006 episode of L&O:CI, from the mouth of a very educated character.

  2. M

    My mom and I totally had a conversation about this last week! No matter how many times I explain this particular rule to kids, they never listen. Not to mention to that overuse “that” like crazy. Blerg.

  3. Darn. I am sure I make this mistake.

  4. Anonymous

    So…in the sentence “Groups of youth ___ complete community service…”, do you use who or that? I’m guessing “that” because “of youth” is describing the groups.

    Thanks! I love Grammar Wednesdays

    • I would say “who,” but I’m not 100% certain that would be, strictly speaking, correct. The ‘groups” are the subject of the sentence, and groups are impersonal things. If I didn’t have a modifier, I’d say “groups that…” Perhaps this is one of those instances where either pronoun would be correct?

      • Anonymous

        Thanks! I use this phrasing a lot when writing for work and I constantly struggle with which sounds better.

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