Which vs. Witch

What is the difference?


Learning English is not always such an easy task with so many words that look and sound like others. These words when used incorrectly can sometimes change the whole meaning of a sentence.

One pair of words that are very easy to get mixed up are which and witch. These words are said exactly the same way, but they mean totally different things.

One is a word used to tell two things apart and the other is a woman with magical powers. Those are definitely not two words that you want to get wrong when trying to speak with someone.

Which vs. Witch

Let's take a look at each word with its definitions and some examples to help you know when to use which and when to use witch!

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All Tenses

Which

The first word that we will go over is which. This word is a pronoun.

One way that you can use the word which is to ask for information that indicates what person or thing in a specific set of people or things you are talking about.

Let's take a look at some examples of this definition of which in some sentences to get a better idea of when to use it.


Examples
:

  1. Which house on this street is your house?
    (Out of the several houses on this street, what specific house is yours?)

    Which House
  2. Allen does not know which of his friends he wants to go to the concert with tomorrow.
    (Allen does not know what individual friend among his many friends he wants to go to the concert with tomorrow.)

    Friends at a Concert
  3. I do not know which color is my favorite one.
    (I do not know what specific color is my favorite out of all of the colors.)

    Colours

The second definition of which is used when referencing something that was already said when you are introducing more information about that subject.

Here are some examples of this use of which in sentences.


Examples
:

  1. There are now six police cars outside of the bank, which is three more than before.
    (There are now six police cars outside of the bank, and those six cars are three more than there were before.)

    Police Car
  2. Abby walks to her aunt's house, which is where she left her jacket yesterday.
    (Abby walks to her aunt's house, and that house is where she left her jacket yesterday.)

    Wearing a Jacket
  3. His dog ate all of his homework, which is why he did not finish it.
    (His dog ate all of his homework, and that is the reason that he did not finish it.)

    Dog Ate My Homework


Witch

The next word in our lesson is witch. This word sounds the same as which, even though it has a "t" in it and which does not. You don't really pronounce the "t."

Witch is a noun and has two meanings.

The first meaning of witch is a woman with magical powers who is often evil. Witches are popular characters in stories, especially scary ones.

Witch

Let's see some examples of how witch is used in a sentence.


Examples
:

  1. Halloween is the best day to see witches flying on their broomsticks through the sky.
    (Halloween is the best day to see evil women with magical powers flying on their broomsticks through the sky.)

    Witch On a Broomstick
  2. Centuries ago, a woman could be arrested and tried for being a witch.
    (Centuries ago, a woman could be arrested and tried for having magical powers that she used for evil.)

    Witchcraft
  3. The Harry Potter books are full of witches, but most of them are not evil.
    (The Harry Potter books are full of women with magical powers, but most of them are not evil.)

    Harry Potter

The other definition of witch means a woman who is ugly or very mean. This is an informal definition of the word and is used in a mean or negative way to talk about a woman.

Here are a few examples of witch used in this way.


Examples
:

  1. Kevin called Betty a witch for stepping on his toes.
    (Kevin calls Betty mean for stepping on his toes.)

    Stepped On His Toes
  2. Their science teacher was a regular witch, with her long nose and warts.
    (Their science teacher was very ugly, with her long nose and warts.)

    Teacher
  3. Tom said that "some witch" stole his wallet from him.
    (Tom said that a woman that he doesn't like because of the mean thing she did stole his wallet.)

    Stealing a Wallet


 
Collocations

There are some common collocations for each of these words that you should know in order to speak like a native English speaker.

One example is the phrase "which is which" This is used to distinguish between only two things that are unclear to the speaker.

Example: I know both Sam and her twin sister, but I can never tell which is which.
(I know both Sam and her twin sister, but I can never tell who is Sam and who is Sam's sister.)

Twin Sisters

Another collocation to know is "witch hunt." This refers historically to actual witch hunts, but more commonly is used to express when someone is being investigated because they have supposedly done something wrong, but more likely they are just being harassed for having unconventional or different opinions than the person or people doing the investigating.

Example: There was a witch hunt for communists in the 1950's in America.
(There was a pointless investigation targeting people who might have been communists in the 1950's in America.)

American

Another is witch doctor. A witch doctor is someone who heals others through non-scientific or possibly supernatural methods.

Example: When no other doctor could figure out what was wrong, I went to see a witch doctor in the Amazon to find a cure.
(When none of the scientific doctors could figure out what was wrong, I went to see a traditional doctor in the Amazon to find a non scientific cure.)

A Witch Doctor


More Tips

Now you know that which means to tell one thing apart from a set of things, and that a witch is a woman with magical powers. Even though you know each definition and have seen examples of when to use each, it might still be hard to remember what word goes with what definition since they look and sound so much alike.

A little trick to remembering what each word means is to look for the two "h's" in which, and remember that which is used to tell things apart, so you can think to yourself, "which 'h' is which."

The letter H

Another way to remember the difference is by looking at the "t" in witch and picturing it as a little person, specifically a woman with magical powers that she may use for evil purposes.

With those two tricks, you should have no problem remembering the difference between which and witch!


A Story to Practice Which vs. Witch

Amelia is driving to a birthday party, which is for her friend's dog, who is turning five today. Amelia is not sure which house she is going to, because she has never been there before. On the way there, she sees a billboard for a new scary movie about an evil witch.

Amelia laughs because she does not believe in witches, so they do not scare her. The only witch she knows is her neighbor, Mrs. Appleton, who always yells at Amelia about her yard, which is always very messy.

Amelia finds the house, which is very large and white. Her friend has two dogs and they look very similar, so Amelia cannot tell which is which and says "happy birthday" to the wrong one. Her friend gets angry and calls her a witch and tells her to leave, so Amelia drives back to her house, which is decorated with witches and ghosts for Halloween, which is in a few days.

Decorated House


Quiz

Fill in the blanks with the appropriate word. Each question is worth ten points.

  1. I know ____________ (which/witch) of the puppies I want to adopt.
  2. The woman at the hotel front desk was acting like a real ____________ (which/witch) when I checked in.
  3. People in Medieval times were very afraid of ____________ (which/witches).
  4. Dinosaurs are extinct, ____________ (which/witch) I think is a good thing for humans.
  5. The little girl wants to be a ____________ (which/witch) for Halloween this year.
  6. ____________ (Which/Witch) book should I read this week?
  7. Matthew and Brenda go see a movie, ____________ (which/witch) is about aliens.
  8. There is no way to tell ____________ (which/witch) is ____________ (which/witch) between the two paintings; they are identical.
  9. Amy’s favorite television show is about a ____________ (which/witch) learning to use her powers for good.
  10. My grandma claims to be a ____________ (which/witch), but I have never seen her do any magic.


Answer Key

1. which | 2. witch | 3. witch | 4. which | 5. witch | 6. Which | 7.which | 8. which, which | 9. witch | 10. witch


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