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In Longman Advanced American Dictionary (page 219), the definition of the Chang Jiang is as follows:

the longest river in China, that flows eastward from Tibet to the China Sea. It is also called the Yangtze.

In Standard British English, the above relative pronoun "that" should be replaced by "which".

What about American English usage?
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As a (BrE) footnote:

1. The Yangtze is the longest river in China, that flows eastward from Tibet to the China Sea.

— this non-restrictive use of "that" may be found in older texts, but is not so common these days. It is unpopular with ESL examiners.

2. The Yangtze is the longest river in China that flows eastward from Tibet to the China Sea.

— this (restrictive) use implies that other rivers also flow eastward from Tibet to the China Sea; but that of all those rivers, the Yangtze is the longest.

3. The Yangtze is the longest river in China which flows eastward from Tibet to the China Sea.

— as #2. Also unpopular with ESL examiners.

4. The Yangtze is the longest river in China, which flows eastward from Tibet to the China Sea.

— this use is slightly unidiomatic, but is sometimes encountered. More usual:

5. The Yangtze is the longest river in China, and flows eastward from Tibet to the China Sea.

— or if you want to retain the non-restrictive relative pronoun:

6. The Yangtze, which flows eastward from Tibet to the China Sea, is the longest river in China.

MrP
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Comments  
Hi Teo

I would have used 'which'.
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the longest river in China, that flows eastward from Tibet to the China Sea. It is also called the Yangtze.

Is it correct to have a comma after 'China' when 'that' is used? IMO, if 'which' is used, then a comma is required.
Teothe longest river in China, that flows eastward from Tibet to the China Sea. It is also called the Yangtze.

In Standard British English, the above relative pronoun "that" should be replaced by "which".

What about American English usage?
Hi Teo,
very good question, I've always wondered about that too.
It seems that when we have a clause or sentence that "defines" the preceding sentence, we can use who (for people), which (for things), or that (for everything):
I saw the man who/that killed all those people.
I need an audio player which/that is able to read Real Media audio files.


But when we have a clause or sentence that kind of "comments" on the preceding sentence, as if it was put in parentheses, we can use who (for people), which (for things), and... and what? Like you, I've always wondered if "that" or something else was used as well.
The police were asking some people, who / that ??? / ... didn't care about the accident at all, by the way.
It's the longest river in China, which / that ??? / ... flows from Tibet tothe China Sea...


It would be good if I could use "that", I really don't like "which" much and I never use it in "restricting clauses". Emotion: smile
KooyeenIt seems that when we have a clause or sentence that "defines" the preceding sentence, we can use who (for people), which (for things), or that (for everything):
I saw the man who/that killed all those people.
I need an audio player which/that is able to read Real Media audio files.


But when we have a clause or sentence that kind of "comments" on the preceding sentence, as if it was put in parentheses, we can use who (for people), which (for things), and... and what? Like you, I've always wondered if "that" NO or something else was used as well.
The police were asking some people, who / that ??? I wouldn't / ... didn't care about the accident at all, by the way.
It's the longest river in China, which / that ??? NO / ... flows from Tibet tothe China Sea...


It would be good if I could use "that", I really don't like "which" much and I never use it in "restricting clauses". Emotion: smileBeware of flying pigs.Emotion: wink

Hi Kooyeen

I suspect the use of the word 'that' in Teo's sentence was simply an editing snafu.
This version of the sentence would be OK with 'that':
The Yangtze is a river in China that flows eastward from Tibet to the China Sea.

I see this version of the sentence as factually incorrect:
The Yangtze is the longest river in China that flows eastward from Tibet to the China Sea.

You can avoid using the word 'which' this way: Emotion: smile
The Yangtze is the longest river in China, flowing eastward from Tibet to the China Sea.
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 MrPedantic's reply was promoted to an answer.
Yoong Liatthe longest river in China, that flows eastward from Tibet to the China Sea. It is also called the Yangtze.

Is it correct to have a comma after 'China' when 'that' is used? IMO, if 'which' is used, then a comma is required.
IMO, when 'that' is used, the comma after 'China' is not required. So it seems Teo's sentence contains a punctuation error.
Hi Yoong Liat

The comma is not the problem -- the sentence needs the comma because what is written afterwards is non-restrictive ("extra information").

Without the comma, the sentence implies that there are one or more rivers longer than the Yangtze in China, but that those flow in directions other than eastward. In other words, omitting the comma makes the sentence factually wrong because there is no other river longer than the Yangtze in China..

The original sentence is awkward at best. I'd would use 'which' instead of 'that' -- or reword the sentence. I liked MrP's 5th and 6th sentences. Emotion: smile
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Thanks, Amy, you're right. I didn't notice the non-restrictive part of the sentence. I also agree that the sentence is awkward.

Best wishes
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