Author Archives: bizcombuzz

Learning to Distinguish Between Who, That, or Which

Instructors: Answer key is downloadable at the end of this post.

Careful writers and speakers distinguish among the relative pronouns who, that, and which.

WHO is used to refer to persons. It may introduce essential or nonessential clauses.

ExampleAnyone who can build social media followers is in demand. (The relative clause who can build social media followers is essential. Without this clause, the sentence says that anyone is in demand. However, only one who can build social media followers is in demand.)                         

ExampleKevin Lee, who is excellent at building social media followers, made our brand grow 25 percent over six months. (The relative clause who is excellent at building social media followers is nonessential. It describes but does not limit the main clause. The main clause can stand alone without the added information. Hint: When individuals are named, information added in whoclauses is almost always nonessential. Notice that commas set off nonessential clauses.)

THAT refers to animals or things and should be used to introduce essential clauses.

ExampleThe Instagram account that Kevin created attracted many followers. (The relative clause that Kevin created is essential. What web site attracted many visitors? Only the Instagram account that Kevin created attracted the visitors. Don’t use the relative pronoun whichto introduce essential clauses.)

WHICH refers to animals or things and introduces a nonessential clause.

Example The Instagram account, which was totally redesigned by Kevin Lee, has helped our brand grow. (The relative pronoun clause is intended to be nonessential. Because it merely adds extra information, it is set off by commas.

The tricky part is deciding whether a clause is nonessential. Nonessential clauses contain information that the reader does not need to know; the main clause is understandable without this extra information. In some cases, only the writer knows whether the clause is intended to be essential or nonessential. If a clause is intended to be nonessential, it should be set off from the rest of the sentence by commas.

In the following sentences, revise any incorrect relative pronouns and punctuation. Mark Cif the sentence is correct.                                                                                   

  1. On Instagram it’s more important to have 1,000 followers that actively participate than 10,000 fans that were purchased.
  2. Our customer account teams, that were recently developed to meet our changing business needs, will analyze your business operations from every angle.
  3. Any site who has free delivery will appeal to potential customers.
  4. Anyone that has recently purchased a smartphone knows how quickly they become obsolete.
  5. Managers are looking for people that have good vocabularies, grammar, and manners.
  6. The new rules which will become effective July 1 are intended to increase worker safety.
  7. Jeffrey has a dog who likes to eat cold pizza.
  8. Many assembly work areas provide a special handle which can be pulled to stop the line if an imminent danger arises.
  9. Some of the parts which were moving down the assembly line required special robots to lift them onto the cars being assembled.
  10. Our team which has the authority to set up its own work schedules tries to rotate the hardest jobs.
  11. We appointed a safety committee which provides guidelines to individual work units.
  12. Hawaiian Vintage chocolate which is grown in the fertile regions of Kona and Keaau is the only chocolate produced from American-grown cocoa beans.
  13. Those chocolate lovers who are willing to pay the high price of $56 a pound appreciate the fruity aroma and intense taste of Hawaiian chocolate.
  14. Any car which is traveling over the speed limit will be ticketed.
  15. Western rattlesnakes who are the most common rattlers in the West hibernate together in large numbers during the winter months.

Distinguishing Who, That, Which Exercise


Does Dressing Down Affect Work Output?

Photo by Ivan Samkov on

The pandemic and working from home have created a new wardrobe reality. Robes and slippers have become best-selling items touted by celebrities. Wearing pajamas all day or slipping into yesterday’s (or last week’s) sweats is commonplace when there’s no one to dress for. But experts say dressing down while working from home can impact performance.

Choice of clothing has long been known to affect mood. It’s no secret that “power suits” help a person go into an important meeting with more confidence or that putting on a special outfit to attend a wedding or prom makes the event more exciting. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that dressing down can similarly affect people’s psychological state.

The reason is that we associate relaxed clothing with, well, relaxing, and working and relaxing are distinct activities. Wearing garb we typically relax in while we work can impact motivation and productivity because we associate those items with sleep or relaxation. Conversely, wearing clothes that carry symbolic meaning—a jacket instead of a hoodie, for example—can subtly help us perform better.

Dressing in work-friendly attire can also increase self-esteem, experts say. Putting some thought into sartorial choices affects how we carry and feel about ourselves, according to research from England. Donning a button-down shirt instead of a worn concert tee triggers the brain’s productivity mode. Similarly, changing from work clothes into comfortable attire at the end of the work day can help create a marker between private and work time.

Interestingly, research has found that people feel more authoritative and competent when they dress for success. It’s a short jump to see that if productivity dwindles while wearing casual clothes, changing that attire may help.

Nevertheless, the occasional PJ day can be a great way to take a needed break from work, as long as it’s not done too frequently—that can lead to sluggishness. The bottom line is to fight the urge to get too cozy all the time as long as working from home remains the norm.


  1. Have you had experiences in which dressing up has changed your attitude?
  2. What’s behind the idea of wearing “power suits”?
  3. What do you think about the notion of clothing having symbolic meaning? What are some examples of symbolic clothing?

Promoting Active Learning in Remote Classrooms

Most of us have long incorporated active learning techniques as a way to engage students with course content. In business communication, these strategies may include breaking students into groups to work on short exercises; creating team-based writing assignments; forming discussion groups to consider business-related issues while bolstering social and communication skills; and asking students to reflect upon their learning processes.

However, active learning in remote learning situations may require adjustments. Below are some techniques to help instructors encourage engaged learning during the pandemic.

Minute papers. At the end of class, ask students to answer the questions, What was the most important thing you learned today? and What questions do you have that are still unanswered? This works especially well toward the end of a live Zoom session or on a discussion board. Having students reflect on the day’s activities reinforces what they know and reminds them of what they still need to learn. In addition, if students know they will be expected to write this quick response, they may even pay more attention during the session.

Collaborative notetaking. In groups of two or three, students rotate through the primary notetaking role during class lectures in a Google doc created for that purpose, later sharing the notes among the team or with the entire class. This tactic encourages active listening.

Group work. Group work can be arranged in several ways. Groups of four or five can answer questions the instructor poses about a specific lesson using Zoom breakout rooms or other apps the groups choose themselves. Similarly, instructors can ask students to work individually on a project while in groups, allowing students to connect, chat, or ask questions at the peer level.

Online group work can also be a method for students to develop critical thinking skills. This is particularly relevant to the business communication classroom, where discussing ethics is timely and relevant. (Check out newsworthy topics under the BizComBuzz tab News You Can Use.)

Break up lectures with activities. In either videotaped or live sessions, instructors introduce topics during lectures followed by any of a number of active learning techniques such as the following:

  • Polling using iClicker, Poll Everywhere, or Zoom polling
  • Low-stakes quizzes to help check understanding and reinforce concepts via embedding a quiz in a Panopto video or Kaltura Quizzes
  • Peer learning, especially peer editing with guided questions for a specific assignment to reinforce the importance of editing in either a synchronous or asynchronous class session

Incorporating one or several of these strategies will help your students feel more connected to you and the course material.