Who was that zombie?

Photo credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid Laughingsquid.com
Creative Commons License use.

Great FAQ on THAT vs WHO from the Chicago Manual of Style Online:

“Q. When referring to a zombie, should I use the relative pronoun who (which would refer to a person) or that (since, technically, the zombie is no longer living)? Essentially, does a zombie cease to become a “person” in the grammatical sense?

A. Let’s assume this is a serious question, in which case you, as the writer, get to decide just how much humanity (if any) and grammatical sense you wish to invest in said zombie. That will guide your choice of who or that.”

Thank you to my editor, the wonderful Anne Victory of Victory Editing, for the reference, after I asked her if I was wrong to be irritated when I saw “that” instead of “who” when referring to people.

She confirmed that it’s not technically wrong to use “that,” but it creates distance and dehumanizes whatever you’re talking about.

The guy that kissed me.

The guy who kissed me.

I hate seeing that used in reference to a person. Especially a person who just kissed me. If I were writing about Edward I’d use THAT, but for Jacob, WHO.

Zombie? That.

And no kissing.

 

 

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