Magazine October 4, 2021, Issue

The People That (Whom?) You Know

(forisana/Getty Images)

The question often arises whether that, as a relative pronoun, may refer to people as well as things. The better authorities say yes — that this use of that is part of Standard English. The OED notes that that is a “general relative pronoun . . . referring to persons or things” and shows that it dates back some 1,300 years in English.

As an empirical matter, although the phrasing people who is much more common today in print, people that is equally frequent in the conversation of English speakers. This might suggest that people that is a less formal wording.

To Read the Full Story

Something to Consider

If you valued reading this article, please consider joining our fight by donating to our Fall Webathon. Your contribution makes it possible for us to continue our mission of speaking truth and defending conservative principles.

If you valued reading this article, please consider joining our fight by donating to our Fall Webathon.

 

Support Our Mission
Bryan A. Garner — Mr. Garner is the author of The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation, Garner’s Modern English Usage, and The HBR Guide to Better Business Writing.

In This Issue

Special Issue on Crime

Books, Arts & Manners

Sections

Letters

Letters

A response to the notion that the U.S. military footprint in Afghanistan was a low-cost, high-reward deployment.

Recommended

The Latest

Defending Dave Chappelle

Defending Dave Chappelle

By standing up to the woke mob, Netflix is providing a model for how corporations should respond to demands that they enforce leftist speech codes.