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Hi teachers!


It may sound stupid but I have been wandering why we cannot use the relative pronoun 'that' as restrictive.


Please let me enlightened native teachers.


Many thanks in advance.

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Michelle ChaIt may sound stupid but I have been wondering why we cannot use the relative pronoun 'that' as restrictive.

You have this round the wrong way. It is "which" that, according to some people, should not be used in restrictive clauses. This is a matter of opinion, or personal style, or possibly regional variation. So, some people might be happy with "the newspaper which I bought this morning", while others would say that it should be "the newspaper that I bought this morning".

Edit: Hmm, I've just noticed that in your subject line you do actually refer to non-restrictive use. I wonder, did you just forget the word "non" in the body of your post?

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Michelle ChaWhy can't we use 'that' as a non restrictive relative pronoun?

For the same reason we can't use 'Tuesday' to mean 'Thank you'. It's part of the meaning and use of the word. Emotion: smile

CJ

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Michelle Chawhy we cannot use the relative pronoun 'that' as restrictive.

In American English, "that" is for restrictive clauses. "Which" is for non-restrictive clauses.

British English is a little more lax than American English.

Here are two very good discussions of these clauses and their subordinators (American English)

https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/grammar/relative_pronouns/index.html

https://medium.com/writetoedit/that-vs-which-restrictive-and-nonrestrictive-clauses-6f1fc6fcd680

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Yes. Sorry for my mistake.


I meant non restrictive in the body.

I really want to know why we cannot use 'that' in a non restrictive relative clause.

Right. That's the way you native speakers say. 😷

Michelle ChaI really want to know why we cannot use 'that' in a non restrictive relative clause.

The reason is not obvious to ordinary modern speakers. Only someone with specialist knowledge could say why this distinction exists or has developed. I had a brief look at Google results but unfortunately I couldn't find anything accessible that addresses exactly this point.

I would say, also, that in my opinion it is not always impossible to use "that" non-restrictively, although in the great majority of cases we do use "which" (or "who").

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 AlpheccaStars's reply was promoted to an answer.
This site is really helpful! Thank you so much 😃