The Separation Agreement that

The pacts were guaranteed by the Malaysian government in the Separation Agreement that established Singapore as a sovereign state in 1965.

At the height of the Asian Financial Crisis, the two sides entered into a six-year-long negotiation on the matter, but this was later called off by Malaysia.

Shouldn’t it be the Separation Agreement, which in British English. I think “that” without the comma is fine in American English.



I don’t know if it is a US / UK difference, though I do agree that more and more often, people are using “which” instead of “that”. I think the rule remains unchanged though: use “that” for essential information, use “which” along with a comma for nonessential information.

In your example, if there is only one Separation Agreement, say, “The Malaysian Separation Agreement of 1965”, then the phrase is not needed to show exactly what agreement this was. In this case, the phrase “established Singapore as a sovereign state in 1965” is nonessential and set off by a comma and “which”. But if this is just one of many separation agreements - maybe there was one for Macau and one for Hong Kong as well - then the phrase is needed to show exactly which agreement is being talked about. So in this case, this essential information is not set off with a comma and “that” is used.


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