That That Might Not Be That Necessary

“That that that that writer used is unnecessary . . .” Many of my clients will tell you I have a thing about “thats.” Writers too often throw in a that for good measure, cluttering sentences with that word all too often. Much of the time you can take that that out.

Here are some instances where you can take that out:

I said that she could come over.
I hope that you will understand.
I want to tell you that I love you.

Use that when you want to set something apart from something else:

I want that donut—not the one with the sprinkles.
Not everything that glitters is gold.

If you take that out and the meaning is confusing, keep it in. But at least try reading your line without it to see if that that is really essential! That’s all folks!

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  1. Good post. You say that the word THAT is unnecessary but if it’s not grammatically incorrect (and yes, it wasn’t lost on me that I used it unnecessarily there :P) and it doesn’t sound stupid, then why remove it? Just wondering…because I think I use this a lot.

  2. Camille DeSalme posted on this topic a while back in a group on the Ryze network. When I started editing a section of one of my books, I remembered that post and really checked up on myself. It was amazing how many “thats” I removed. Some I could change to “which”, some I changed to “so” or “in order to”, and many just got mercilessly kicked out into oblivion. I actually got rather ruthless in my pursuit of those “that” words. 🙂 It made a major difference.

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