When we were on vacation in Britain earlier this month I noticed that people seldom made a distinction between “which” and “that” in sentences, and I’ve been reading a bunch of British books and noticed the same thing. I was starting to question my sanity a little bit, because I’m 99% sure I know when to use “which” and when to use “that” in a sentence – at least I was until I noticed that all kinds of British people (authors and others) didn’t distinguish between the two. And then I found this brilliant gem!
It turns out that it’s only in American English that we distinguish the two. So!
“Please hand me the awesomely delicious pint of proper ale which is on your table.”
OR (take your pick):
“Please hand me the awesomely delicious pint of proper ale that is on your table.”
“Please hand me the ice-cold-so-that-you-can’t-taste-the-funk PBR that is on your table.”
On a similar note, I was horrified to see that the habit of adding extraneous apostrophe’s (like that) is rampant there! Far worse than here in the US. I took several photos of pub sign’s and other place’s advertising thing’s that shouldn’t be possessive. I was shocked: aren’t these the people who started this whole crazy language?
Last but not least, we were in a pub in Windsor, home of the Queen, and spotted this bit of Rupert Murdoch-era news at its finest – a spread in The Daily Mail (CORRECTION: which is NOT, I need to mention, owned by Rupert Murdoch, a reader kindly pointed out to me) with the subtle (and balanced!) headline “WHY THE LEFT HATES FAMILIES.”
Finally, just so it’s clear that I wasn’t spending my time criticizing our British friends’ grammar or editorial policies, we were absolutely stunned by Cornwall’s scenery and people over the 90 miles of the South West Coast Path that (or which, as they might say) we traversed, and we were blessed with good weather, to boot!