Monday, January 19, 2009

Medical Transcription Guidelines -20

Pronouns: Which, Who, That

1. The pronoun which used as a relative pronoun (a noun substitute used to introduce clauses) refers to animals and things. Which is often used in nonessential clauses, which are set off by commas and are not necessary to the meaning of the sentence:

The medicine that he took, which he left at home in Virginia, was Dyazide.

2. The pronoun who (or whom) refers to people and sometimes animals.

3. The pronoun that can refer to any of the above. That is used almost exclusively to introduce essential clauses (clauses that are necessary for the understanding of the sentence and not set off by commas):

The medicine that he took is unknown to me.

4. A good test of some essential clauses is to leave out the relative pronoun, and if the sentence still makes sense, it is an essential clause (example A). In example B, however, the relative clause is essential, but that cannot be omitted.

Example A:

The medicine that he took is unknown to me.

The medicine he took is unknown to me.

Example B:

The chamber that receives oxygenated blood from the lungs is the left atrium.

5. Who and whom can be used in essential or nonessential clauses. Which and that can sometimes be interchanged, but which should not be used to refer to persons.

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