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Writing tip: "Who" versus "that"

Taking inspiration from a recent posting in the APA style blog, this month's tip addresses when it's appropriate to use the relative pronouns "who" versus "that."

Please consider the following sentence: The researcher that published the article is well-known in the academic community. In this sentence, "that" is used as a relative pronoun to refer to the researcher. However, when referring to people, the appropriate pronoun is "who": The researcher who published the article is well-known in the academic community. Use "that" when referring to animals or inanimate objects; for example, "I am looking for the evidence that will prove my theory", or "the dog that salivated when the researcher rang the bell has been in the study for 5 weeks".

For more information, please see Pronouns on the Writing Centre website, and feel free to contact me, Theresa Bell, if you have any questions about this tip or any other writing issue.