Today, a friend of mine asked me, what does "That which" mean. They gave me one examplea said they saw it on a game:

"Shinning as lucifer, the morning star, in the dawn, showing a beauty that is not God's — *That which* appears withing graps"

Also, they gave me other example:

"That which doesn't kill us, it just makes us stronger"

And I couldn't answer. Could you guys help me? Thanks in advance.

Original Post

Hello, Harry, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange!

"That which" doesn't have meaning by itself. It takes its meaning from the surrounding grammatical context. In "that which," "that" is a pronoun, and it is modified by a relative clause introduced by "which."

Thus, "that which" may be compared with, for example, "he who," in a sentence like "He who laughs last thinks slowest." See if you can see the resemblance between as sentence like that and one like this:

  • That which lies beneath is waiting to devour us.

"That which" can generally be replaced by "what" or the phrase "the thing(s) that." Instead of the above example, we could have "What lies beneath is waiting to devour us" or "The thing that lies beneath is waiting to devour us."

I'd just like to add that in the second sentence Harry asked us about (about the first one, I'll just say it contains a few spelling mistakes), "it" is not correct, because the subject is the clause "that which doesn't kill us" (meaning "anything that/whatever doesn't kill us) and "it" is therefore redundant as a subject:

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