which


which
/hwich, wich/, pron.
1. what one?: Which of these do you want? Which do you want?
2. whichever: Choose which appeals to you.
3. (used relatively in restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses to represent a specified antecedent): The book, which I read last night, was exciting. The socialism which Owen preached was unpalatable to many. The lawyer represented five families, of which the Costello family was the largest.
4. (used relatively in restrictive clauses having that as the antecedent): Damaged goods constituted part of that which was sold at the auction.
5. (used after a preposition to represent a specified antecedent): the horse on which I rode.
6. (used relatively to represent a specified or implied antecedent) the one that; a particular one that: You may choose which you like.
7. (used in parenthetic clauses) the thing or fact that: He hung around for hours and, which was worse, kept me from doing my work.
8. Nonstandard. who or whom: a friend which helped me move; the lawyer which you hired.
adj.
9. what one of (a certain number or group mentioned or implied)?: Which book do you want?
10. whichever; any that: Go which way you please, you'll end up here.
11. being previously mentioned: It stormed all day, during which time the ship broke up.
[bef. 900; ME; OE hwilc, hwelc, equiv. to hwe- (base of hwa WHO) + -lic body, shape, kind (see LIKE1); c. OFris hwelik, D welk, G welch, Goth hwileiks lit., of what form]
Usage. The relative pronoun WHICH refers to inanimate things and to animals: The house, which we had seen only from a distance, impressed us even more as we approached. The horses which pulled the coach were bay geldings. Formerly, WHICH referred to persons, but this use, while still heard (a man which I know), is nonstandard. Contrary to the teachings of some usage guides, WHICH introduces both restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses. The "rule" that WHICH can be used only with nonrestrictive clauses has no basis in fact. In edited prose three-fourths of the clauses in which WHICH is the relative pronoun are restrictive: A novel which he later wrote quickly became a bestseller. See also that.

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Universalium. 2010.

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