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According to rules, that should be used with a restrictive clasu while which should be used with a non-restrictive clause.

Which one of the folllowing sentences is true.

1. The house that Jack built has been torn down.

2. The house which Jack built has been torn down.

Is it possible to tell which word to use (that or which) just by lookin at an isolated sentence (as the above examples) or

do we need to see the whole context?
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Comments  
An answer is probably possible here.

«That» usually introduces a clause that identifies the subject, while «which» opens a clause that provides some additional information.

That's why «that» is called restrictive and «which» nonrestrictive.

«The building, (additional info) which consisted of three storeys, was well built and seemed in reasonable condition».

In your case, I'd choose «that», because the clause identifies the house rather than gives supplementary info.
that may introduce only a restrictive relative clause.
which may introduce either a restrictive relative clause or a non-restrictive relative clause.

Both of your examples of a restrictive clause are correct. (Be careful about the word true. These sentences are true only if the house in question actually has been torn down. We cannot see the house, so we don't know if the sentences are true. Sentences can be (grammatically) correct, but not true at the same time.)

CJ
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Well... i still am confused about the clauses that refer to some additional information about a subject and refer to identify it.

eg The cup, which he stepped on, is in the bin.

The above example has been taken from a website and they say that it's a non-restrictive clause. But to me, it seems more like a restrictive clause since it clearly identifies a specific cup that had been stepped on by someone.

Similarly,

eg., The house that has been painted pink has just been sold.

Here the clause "has been painted pink" seems both "additional information" and "definition for the subject". How can i know the difference between the type of information conveyed by such a clause. The main problem that i see is that every information given in a relative clause seems like additional information about the subject.
GB
Additional info is such info that can be omitted without a change in the subject's mening.

«Hey, where is my favourite cup, which father gave me?»
or just «Hey, where is my favourite cup?»

The subject «cup» means the same certain cup, irregardless of whether there is a which-clause or not. Thus, this is additional info.

«The house that has been painted pink has just been sold»

Your example. By saing that the house has been painted we identify the house. Without this information the sentece will lose its meaning. So, this info is used for identification and therefore the corresponding clause is restrictive. It «restricts» all possible meanings of «house» to just one meaning, one certain house.
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Grammarian-bot
eg The cup, which he stepped on, is in the bin.

The above example has been taken from a website and they say that it's a non-restrictive clause. But to me, it seems more like a restrictive clause since it clearly identifies a specific cup that had been stepped on by someone.
You have every right to be confused. Since no context is given, it s actually impossible to know whether the relative clause is restrictive or non-restrictive. We can only tell that from the commas.

The commas are needed only if the cup has been mentioned before the above sentence. It has been mentioned and is now mentioned again, and the relative clause informs us about someone having stepped on this one and only cup that we are dealing with. The relative clause could be omitted and the main clause would still make sense: The cup is in the bin.

Cheers
CB
I found only one site with this example:
http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/which.htm

If that's where you've derived the sentece from, you are not supposed to name the clause type by the example. It's the other way round: the author gives the example and tells you what it means. Of course, the meaning depends on the context, so he gives different meanings for the two examples: the one with the which-clause eclosed by commas, the other without commas. So, it depends on the context which clause to use.

The problem is that the cup example seems not very good to me, because I can't think out a naturally-sounding example for the non-restrictive version...

But anyway, you should have got the idea...
The explanation at the site is very good IMHO.

Cool Breeze wrote:
«The commas are needed only if the cup has been mentioned before the above sentence.»

Not fully true. If we have mentioned two different cups, including the one the guy stepped on, then, in further text, we'll probably use restrictive clause to denote this cup.

«The thief, due to hurry, stepped on a cup with his iron-shod boot and broke it. The other cup was found intact. The cup [restrictive] which he stepped on is in the bin, while the other is still on the table and seen on the photo.»
Well now everything is clear. All this time, the point that was pestering me was that how can someone tell wheather a clause is restrictive or non-restrictive without knowing the context. Thank you everybody especially Ant_222 for that "thief" example. It really helped a lot.

GB
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