Can you use “which” to signify an afterthought?

I’m reading a certain novel right now. It’s good, but it uses the word “which” in a way that really bugs me. This spelling and grammar pet peeve has been a fairly recent, but intense, one of mine for the past couple of years.

Dear editor of said novel: The word “which” is not a synonym for “and,” “anyway” or even a period. Here is an example from the book:

“And if you tell him you saw me smoking, I will banish you to the lowest circle of hell. Which I’ve never been there, but . . .”

Now I’m not going to get all academic on you here (I couldn’t even if I wanted to, anyway), but “which” is a pronoun. That means it refers directly to something that’s been mentioned in a conversation, or refers to the people having the conversation.

The character in the example I used should say either, ” . . . the lowest circle of hell, which I’ve never been to, but . . .” or drop it altogether. If he says which in the way I just suggested, he’s referring directly to the lowest circle of hell. In the way that appears the book, he’s using it to refer to, “I’ve never been there,” which makes no sense at all. He means to use which to indicate an afterthought, in which case an, “Of course,” at the beginning of the thought would suffice. Actually, in this example, dropping it altogether would make the most sense.

I know the example I used is from a character speaking, but that doesn’t stop it from hitting my brain all wrong. Using which to signify an afterthought or make a new point isn’t a regionalism as far as I know, so it doesn’t get a pass from me. No sir!

I hope the above made sense. The thing with me is I usually feel it when a word is used wrong or a sentence is composed badly, but I can’t often put it into words. A loud clanging bell goes off somewhere in my torso. I think it’s my mutant superpower.

Posted in Spelling & Grammar, Language.

How to use “begs the question”

This one isn’t actually a pet peeve of mine, but my husband’s. However, I think it’s an interesting one so I’m sharing it today.

Before I met my husband, I thought, like many others, that “begging the question” was the same as “raising the question” – like, “It’s Donut Friday, which begs the question – why am I not eating a donut right now?” It turned out, that’s totally incorrect.

“Begging the question” is actually a logical fallacy. Sounds complicated, but basically, begging the question is a statement that assumes its conclusion is proven correct without any evidence. Like this:

“If donuts weren’t delicious, then everyone wouldn’t eat them.”

In this sentence, the assumption is being made that its conclusion – everyone eats donuts – is true, without any proof of that. Just stating something doesn’t make it true. It’s also using that assumption as evidence that donuts are delicious. For these reasons, this sentence is begging the question.

Posted in Spelling & Grammar.