123ArticleOnline Logo
Welcome to 123ArticleOnline.com!

ALL >> Education >> View Article

The Overuse, Underuse, And Misuse Of That

By Author: Terry Sanders
Total Articles: 37

Few words in our language cause as much trouble as "that." Not surprisingly, this is because "that" is a pronoun, adjective, adverb, and conjunction, and it also appears in a number of idiomatic phrases. And, should this not be enough, "that" is often substituted in casual conversation for "which."
Definitions, Definitions, and More Definitions
Defining "that" would consume this article. And the "that/which" explanation would cover another paper, and I indeed wrote on this very subject at length at another time. Hence, I want to focus on the subject of this paper, which is the overuse, underuse, and misuse of "that."
One Self-Proclaimed Guru's Answer to "That"
Some years ago, when I had the time to participate in other folks' writing-related blogs, I remember being set back in my chair when a message-board "leader" informed his acolytes of his decision to omit "that" from every line in which it appeared in his latest literary wizardry.
I always wondered what happened when one of this fellow's characters should "realize the cherry" or "understand the toilet," instead of "He realized that the cherry had a pit in it only after he broke his tooth on it," or "He would understand that the toilet in the gas station needed a key after it was too late."
Then There's Too Much Clarity
At times I'll read something such as, "That is the thing that we need to be told that will make that clearer." The easiest fix for this is, "That is the thing we need to be told to make it clearer." I generally try to eliminate multiple uses of "that" in a sentence, when this is not impractical, and I recommend this for my clients, as well.
Substitute "Which" for the Second "That"
Many grammar experts don't agree with this, but I always like Dr. Jacques Barzun's contention, which states that "which," when substituted for "that" when the latter occurs twice in a sentence (and it fits and makes grammatical sense) creates more fluent prose.
And in those instances when three "that's" occur, I'll generally place "which" between the first and last use of "that."
Misuse of "That"
"That" defines with specificity--and tautology if you write what I just wrote, ha ha--but I want to get my point across. It can't be substituted for "which" when the context is nonrestrictive any more than "which" can be substituted for "that" in restrictive text.
The Best Determinant for "That"
I obviously disagreed with the guy who decided "that" was a bad word and it should be banished forever. However, I do believe "that" is overused. Strict grammarians might say I needed a "that" before "that" in the previous two sentences. It's easy to find a place for "that," if for no other reason than its abundant uses.
The old rule of thumb is to read the sentence with and without "that" and decide what makes sense, applying the method I used with the cherry and the toilet. For me, both examples indicate a clear-cut need for "that." When it's not so absolute, my advice is to omit "that" and read the sentence aloud to determine if the decision was a sound one. Sometimes I place "that" back in the syntax, yet just as often I don't, letting sound and fluency always decide the fate of "that."

creative writing essay

Total Views: 61Word Count: 545See All articles From Author

Education Articles

1. Insight Of The Key Benefits Of Corporate Training
Author: Multisoft

2. Which Are The Best Engineering Courses In India 2017?
Author: Mangalmay

3. Essay On Drug Crime Investigation
Author: jackson bird

4. Dyslexia Software Ready For Windows 10s - Ghotit Dyslexia
Author: 1888PressRelease

5. Fishy Things That Nobody Told You About Tax Accountant In Rockdale
Author: Austin Loader

6. Digital Marketing Training Institute In Chandigarh, Mohali India
Author: thinknext

7. Sap Online Training By Learn It Training
Author: Learn IT Training, Hyderabad Based Online Training

8. Prepare Your Child With Summer Tutoring Programs
Author: TAS New York

9. Engineers Have The Ability To Change The World
Author: ponting brown

10. Which Are The Best Engineering And Architecture Courses In The Construction Industry?
Author: NIBT

11. Past Responsive Webdesign: Tomorrows Technology
Author: Learn web designing course Bangalore, Infocampus i

12. Explore, Learn, Construct & Grow With Cept University
Author: cept university

13. Best Advice You Could Ever Get About Taking Online Classes
Author: Benjamin Williams

14. Numerical Simulation Of Flow Ower Flat - Sloped Stepped Spillway
Author: CPDLR

15. How To Improve Academic Performance: 5 Things You’re Forgetting To Do
Author: Todd Manning

Login To Account
Login Email:
Password:
Forgot Password?
New User?
Sign Up Newsletter
Email Address: