The word that

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The word that

Post by Shann » Mon Apr 06, 2015 1:36 pm

I'm discovering that when to use the word, that, can be a tricky thing to figure out. I've learned that if you use it instead of which, then you don't need a comma. I've also discovered that many people use it either too often or not often enough. For example, my prior sentence. I think the word that is needed, but have seen others write: I've discovered many people use it. So how do you know when to use it or when it isn't needed?

I did look it up and found Grammar Girl's advice here: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/educat ... e-out-that
It seems like, except for certain times, it can be a personal preference. What is your take on it. Do you tend to use it more or less? Does it really matter (except in cases when the word that clarifies a sentence)?
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Re: The word that

Post by Anja » Mon Apr 06, 2015 2:46 pm

Shann,

I did a lesson on "which" and "that." Scroll down a bit.
I've also discovered that many people use it either too often or not often enough. For example, my prior sentence. I think the word that is needed, but have seen others write: I've discovered many people use it. So how do you know when to use it or when it isn't needed?
Both are correct here, using "that" or not using "that." However, it's not always necessary to use "that" when using "reporting" verbs such as "discovered." (Reporting verbs are words such as tell, say, regret, yell, etc.)

The weatherman said that it would snow tomorrow.
The weatherman said it would snow tomorrow.

Both ways are correct, but if you need to save words, as in the Challenge, definitely opt for leaving out "that."


However, sometimes a reporting verb needs "that."

The cattlemen proposed a new program would help with repairing fences damaged by elk.

The meaning is not clear. Are the cattlemen proposing a new program they (or someone else) has ALREADY CREATED? Or are they proposing a program SHOULD BE CREATED to help with damaged fences? If it's at all misleading or confusing or may cause the reader to backtrack, leave "that" in the copy.


Also keep "that" when used in parallel construction.

I said that I might go to town, and that, if I do, I will buy a watermelon.


Drop "that" when it is the object of the relative clause it introduces.

I have printed all the photos of the trip that we took in February.
I have printed all the photos of the trip we took in February.


I am heating up the leftover stew that I made for supper last night.
I am heating up the leftover stew I made for supper last night.



Use that if there is a time element introduced.

The cattlemen said September 1 a new fencing fund would commence.

Did the cattlemen SAY IT on September 1? Or will the fencing fund commence on September 1?

The cattlemen said that September 1 a new fencing fund would commence. (The program will commence on September 1.)

The cattlemen said September 1 that a new fencing fund would commence. (The cattlemen SAID it on September 1.)


Always use "that" for clarification. It is not ever wrong to use "that," but it may not be necessary. Don't drop it for word count if it muddies your meaning.
Ann Grover Stocking

"What remains of a story after it is finished? Another story..." Eli Wiesel

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Re: The word that

Post by Shann » Mon Apr 06, 2015 7:27 pm

Thanks those are great explanations.

I didn't know the difference between that and which until about a year or so ago, which shows we're never too old to learn. :D
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Re: The word that

Post by Anja » Tue Apr 07, 2015 2:56 pm

Shann wrote:Do you tend to use it more or less?
I answered your other questions, I hope, about clarifications and if using "that" really matters, but I didn't answer this question.

I try not to use "that," if at all possible. My early elementary school Language Arts lessons about "that" as a demonstrative prevail, even after fifty years. I will say, "I would like the blue one," rather than confuse the issue by saying, "I want that one," (indicated with a pointing finger), both of which I was taught were rude. So I avoid using "that" whenever possible, except for clarity, and even then, I will try to find a way to re-word the sentence.

But that's me.
Ann Grover Stocking

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Re: The word that

Post by Shann » Tue Apr 07, 2015 3:14 pm

Thank you for sharing that. It makes sense why sometimes I see people who do use it often (like me) and others who try to avoid it. That knowledge will help be be a better editor too. :thankssign
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