[mea] Re: when not to get rid of "that"

  • From: Annalee Greenberg <agreenberg@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <mea@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 16 May 2002 09:06:27 -0500

I don't think there's any rule here. Like a lot of things, the dropping of
"that" from written English has to do to with adapting a convention of
conversation. When we speak, however, there are clues in the speaker's
inflection and timing that convey meaning that just aren't there in the
written sentence.

My very simple rule is [that] if I trip over the sentence and have to go
back to make sense of it, it likely needs a "that":

"They believed the waitress, who was attentive and knowledgeable, deserved a
big tip."

When you're reading merrily along, anticipating a certain direction, and the
syntax takes you off in another, the sentence usually requires "that" for
clarity. On the other hand, too many "thats" can sometimes sound clumsy.

So generally, if I have to backtrack or hesitate, I try it with the "that,"
then decide which is the lesser of two evils.

Very scientific. 
Annalee Greenberg
Winnipeg, MB 

> From: "Frazer, Cheri" <Cheri.Frazer@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Reply-To: mea@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Date: Wed, 15 May 2002 16:00:25 -0500
> To: mea@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: [mea] when not to get rid of "that"
> My turn!
> I'm looking over a manual that's been reviewed by a junior editor. He has
> removed almost every "that" and I'm wondering if anyone has guidelines on
> when it's *not* ok to remove them. I'm all for streamlining a sentence, but
> in some cases I think it throws off the rhythm. Here's a sample from a case
> study:
> "After analyzing the clients' current financial situation and their savings
> strategies, you have come to the conclusion [that] they will benefit from
> some sound financial advice."
> I don't like removing the "that" in this case because it throws off the
> rhythm of the sentence. Am I alone here? Is there a term for the way "that"
> functions in this sentence so [that] I can look it up?
> Cheri Frazer
> Editor, Technical Communications department
> 900 - 125 Garry St.
> Winnipeg, MB R3C 3P2
> Tel: 204-943-3474 ext. 3337
> Fax: 204-942-5100

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