A few years later, she even made an organization, Empower Orphans, which sends food, clothes, books, and many other things to orphans.

Can we replace the underlined relative pronoun 'which' with 'that'?

There are two arguments about this.

1. The 'which' in the above sentence is a non-restrictive use of relative pronoun, accordingly, 'that' can't replace 'which'.

2. The comma in front of 'which' is used to indicate the apposition between 'an organization' and 'Empower Orphans'. In that case, the use of the relative pronoun is restrictive and therefore, 'that' can be used, too.

What is your opinion?

 

 

Original Post
y2k posted:

A few years later, she even made an organization, Empower Orphans, which sends food, clothes, books, and many other things to orphans.

Can we replace the underlined relative pronoun 'which' with 'that'?

There are two arguments about this.

1. The 'which' in the above sentence is a non-restrictive use of relative pronoun, accordingly, 'that' can't replace 'which'.

2. The comma in front of 'which' is used to indicate the apposition between 'an organization' and 'Empower Orphans'. In that case, the use of the relative pronoun is restrictive and therefore, 'that' can be used, too.

What is your opinion?

Hi, y2k,

Yes, both arguments are valid; the sentence can be parsed both ways; both readings are possible. If reading (2) is intended, it would be good to use "that."

Is there any context? When I search for the sentence, all I get are results with Hangul script surrounding the sentence. Perhaps this is from a Korean textbook.

Hi, y2k and David,

I agree that both options are possible because restrictive "that" can always be replaced with "which." As I see it, that relative is restrictive because of the presence of the indefinite article ("an organization").

I don't like the verb "made." In legal English, other verbs are preferred, like formed, established, founded, created, set up, etc. That said, other options would be:

3. A few years later, she even created an organization, Empower Orphans, that/which sends food, clothes, books, and many other things to orphans.

4. A few years later, she even created Empower Orphans, an organization that/which sends food, clothes, books, and many other things to orphans.

5. A few years later, she even created (the organization) Empower Orphans, which (NOT that) sends food, clothes, books, and many other things to orphans.

Gustavo, Contributor posted:
As I see it, that relative is restrictive because of the presence of the indefinite article ("an organization").

I don't like the verb "made." In legal English, other verbs are preferred, like formed, established, founded, created, set up, etc.

Hi, Gustavo,

Great point about the verb. I was so focused on y2k's question that I didn't pay any attention to the verb, which doesn't work at all. The verb choice alone tells us that the sentence was written by nonnative speakers of English.

I agree with you that the relative clause is probably intended as restrictive. However, since we don't have any context, we can't tell whether the focus is on the type of organization she founded or on that she founded an organization.

Here is what the nonrestrictive reading amounts to. The word "even" does suggest, I think, that the meaning might be nonrestrictive. On this reading, the nonrestrictive clause can be converted to a separate sentence altogether.

  • A few years later, she even founded an organization, (called) Empower Orphans. It sends food, clothes, books, and many other things to orphans.
David, Moderator posted:

Here is what the nonrestrictive reading amounts to. The word "even" does suggest, I think, that the meaning might be nonrestrictive. On this reading, the nonrestrictive clause can be converted to a separate sentence altogether.

  • A few years later, she even founded an organization, (called) Empower Orphans. It sends food, clothes, books, and many other things to orphans.

You're right, David. Your latest paraphrase made it even clearer. Context would have in fact helped. If that "even" means that she went to the extreme of founding an organization, its purpose may very well be merely explanatory. For example, she used to send food, clothes, books, etc. to orphans by herself and one day she decided to create an organization to fulfil that purpose.

On the restrictive reading, the case might be that she had founded different organizations in her lifetime, and one day she founded one whose purpose was to send food, clothes and books to orphans.

Thank  you so much, David and Gustavo! I 've attached the surrounding sentences. You're right, it's from a Korean Textbook.

(The story is about a Indian American girl, Neha Gupta.)

...... She wanted to help with their education.

Instead of just feeling sorry for the girls, she decided to do something. Some people said, “If you were an adult, you could do it, but you’re just 9 years old. Do you really think you can change anything?” 

What they said, however, didn’t stop her. When she went back to the United States, she raised money to help them. A few years later, she even made an organization, Empower Orphans, which sends food, clothes, books, and many other things to orphans. She also opened libraries, computer rooms, and health care centers to help orphans learn.

Based on the context above, what do you think of the relative pronoun 'which', restrictive, or nonrestrictive? After your explanation and considering the context, I think it is nonrestrictive, right?

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