Saturday, April 26, 2014

Bloggin from #AtoZChallenge - Who/what/which and Whiskey

I've had a couple requests to discuss who/whom, who/that, and which/that. I'll try not to let this get too long, but I'll try to discuss each.

Who/whom - which to use when (is that enough W for you?)
Here's the technical answer. Use who when referring to the subject of a clause (the person doing something) and who when referring to the object (the one being acted upon.)

Who will ride Whiskey? (Jen will ride Whiskey, Jen is the subject.)
Whom did the barn assign to muck duty? (The barn assigned Sarah to muck duty, Sarah is the object)

Tip: from Grammar Girl's site
If the answer to the who/whom question could be him, then use whom. Both end in m. Check the above examples.

Who/that - the easy rule is to use who for a person and that for a thing. You'll never be wrong. But apparently this has become a bit gray and okay to say Mary is the lady that wanted to talk to you. Maybe it can be okay, BUT some people won't like it and it isn't likely to ever be wrong to say Mary is the lady who... Things may also become unclear (and personal preference) when referring to an animal. A dog may be a "who" to many people, but most will agree a cockroach is a that. Unless you keep strange pets!

Which/that - this is the hard one!
The simple rule is to use "that" before a restrictive clause and "which" otherwise. So what's a restrictive clause? It's a clause you can't eliminate from the sentence because it limits or further identifies the subject.

Put Whiskey in the pasture that we repaired yesterday. (If the horse were to be put into a pasture with a broken fence, she might escape.) Now I will also argue this use of "that" is superfluous. It makes just as much sense to say "Put Whiskey in the pasture we repaired yesterday."

The grass, which is turning green, will provide good nutrition for the horses. All the grass is likely turning green at the same time since it's spring, so this doesn't identify any specific grass. Note the use of commas around the non-restrictive clause.

Now I bet you need a little Whiskey after all those Ws. A local breeder of Paint horses passed away, but he didn't leave the ranch or the horses to his kids. All the horses went to auction and the proceeds donated to charities. These were well know horses, so no risk of them ending up with killer buyers. And the guy's kids bought some too. One of our boarders owned a horse she'd bought from the ranch, so I decided to attend to buy a horse to train and sell.

Someone mentioned to me, "You know those mares haven't been handled much." I thought that meant they might be a little impatient with the farrier. No. It meant they'd never had a halter on or been groomed. Little difference from a BLM mustang - except they were even more fearful of humans.

I bought a 5yo mare who (note the use of who!) was expected to be pregnant. It took weeks to be able to halter her. She actually became more friendly just before she foaled. Maybe she knew we might be of some use.

All went well for the birth, and she had a gorgeous filly. We named the mare Whiskey (she had Whisker in her registered name) and the filly Freckles Irish Cream (her sire was Freckles), but we called her Bailey.

Drop me a comment below and leave a link back to your blog and I'll be sure to visit and comment when I get back from my endurance ride this weekend.


  1. I'm one of those who cringe at the idea of referring to a person or a domestic animal as anything but who--but if a couple of deer or a bunch of wild turkeys venture across the yard, they're that. Not sure which part of my brain regulates this.

    Love your horses' names. My last horse was Baily (without an E).

    1. I'd probably do the same thing for who and that in those circumstances. Although if I end up talking about an individual turkey, I'd probably assign it a random he/she without caring if I were accurate.

  2. That/which seems the trickiest for me. I'll have to practice.

    Maui Jungalow

  3. The spellchecker, which thinks it knows everything, always flags my "who" when it refers to a horse. Stupid machine.

    1. When I first started writing I blindly did everything Word suggested. Took out all my contractions! Even blogger refuses some of my spelling (ok, I made up the word, but I still want to spell it my way!)

  4. Words and horses. Awesome theme. Great photos. Really creative interweaving of ideas.

  5. Thank you and thanks for visiting!