Hover over the cards below to see some commonly confused words.
- The example does a good job of explaining things.
- This example explains things well.
Since our descriptive word modifies the the noun job in example 1, we need to use the adjective form good. The word answers the question, “What kind of job does the example do?” On the other hand, in example 2, our descriptive word is describing the verb explains, so we need to use the adverb form well. The word answers the question, “To what extent does the example explain things?”
- My favorite animated television show, which is called Avatar: The Last Airbender, deals with many difficult themes.
- Television shows that deal with difficult themes are often difficult to market to younger audiences.
In example 1, we are talking about only one specific television show, “my favorite” one, whatever that may be. Which introduces the clarifying information, but it doesn’t restrict our subject at all since we already knew we were talking about only one show. Example 2, however, is talking about all sorts of shows, so we need to use that to indicate that we are restricting the possible list to include only shows that meet a certain criteria. Pay attention to the commas as well.
- My computer, which is quite fast, cost far too much money.
- My brother, who is quite fast, recently broke his school’s sprint record.
- People who are fast should consider trying out for their track team.
In example 1, we are talking about a computer (not a person), so we need to use which. In examples 2 and 3, we are talking about people, so we definitely need to use who instead of which or that.