Q: I sometimes hear people use “what” where I’d expect “that.” For example, “I need to make a list of the things what I want to buy,” or “This is the book what he gave me.” Is this acceptable? It sounds horribly wrong to me.
A: No, your instincts are right and those sentences are wrong. They could correctly be written as follows:
(1) “I need to make a list of the things that I want to buy.”
Or: “I need to make a list of what I want to buy.”
(2) “This is the book that he gave me.”
Or: “This is what he gave me.”
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