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Resources Section – Grammar explained

Which versus that

If your sentence has a clause but doesn’t need it, use “which”. (Nonessential clause) (A little trick to help us remember: We don’t need “witches”—Hexen!!!).

If the sentence needs the clause, use “that”. (Essential clause)

Example 1

The old house, which (by the way) is one of my favourites, is in a bad condition.
The old house is in a bad condition. The type of antibiotic that my doctor prescribed made me feel bad.
The sentence without the clause “that my doctor prescribed” doesn’t make sense: The type of antibiotic made me feel bad.

Example 2

• Our house, which (by the way) has 3 bedrooms, is located near the sea.
• Our house that has 3 bedrooms is located near the sea.

The first sentence discusses the location of your only house and it just so happens to have 3 bedrooms. And lucky you, it’s near the sea.

The second sentence points out that the house you own with 3 bedrooms is located near the sea. This means you have more than one house, lucky devil. “That has 3 bedrooms” is how you distinguish between your many homes.

Alle=every

Alle=every

The trains to Ulm go every 20 minutes. The train to Timbuktu goes every three days. Every entspricht “alle” in Häufigkeitsangaben.

What about …?

What about …?

We really don't say, "What's about ...?".We ask, "What about ...?" What about us meeting tomorrow at 5 pm?What about that new job of yours.

They’re, their and there

They’re, their and there

They're is short for they are. They are going to the cinema tonight. / They're going to the cinema tonight.Their shows possession. It means it belongs to them. They wanted to give me their books.There refers to a place. I'm going to sit over there now.

Fewer versus less

Fewer versus less

We usually use less for singular nouns/things you can't count (like work, money, time). They gave us less time to get organised. We use fewer for plural nouns/things you can count. We all want to make fewer mistakes.

Bad, worse, the worst

Bad, worse, the worst

Bad translates as schlimm / schlecht. Worse translates as schlimmer / schlechter. The worst, translates as der/die/das/ schlimmste / schlechteste oder am schlimmsten / am schlechtesten.

See you later

See you later

We don't say, "We see us next week" or "We see us later". We say, "See you later" or "See you next week". Or even, "We'll see each other next week".

These or those?

These or those?

Do you remember those / these wonderful nights in Paris? Generally speaking, we use this/these to refer to people and things, situations and experiences that are close to the speaker or very close in time. We use that/those to refer to people and...