1. JLT
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    JLT Active Member

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    "That" or "When"?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by JLT, Aug 3, 2016.

    There's a sentence in my upcoming book that I've had some doubts about. Should it be this:

    "Scarcely a month goes by that I don't hear about somebody..."

    or this?

    "Scarcely a month goes by when I don't hear about somebody..."

    I think I've heard it both ways, but I don't know if one form might just be a regional thing, like "different than/different to" or a now archaic form.

    The first sound more natural to my ears, but that could simply be the way I was brought up.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    First one is my pick.
     
  3. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry my avatar's not a cat, but I'd go with the first as well.
     
  4. sahlmi
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    sahlmi Active Member

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    The first version sounds like a smarter or older character than the second.

    Then there's neither as a possibility:
    "Scarcely a month goes by I don't hear about somebody..."
    A personal preference.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2016
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  5. SoulGalaxyWolf
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    SoulGalaxyWolf Member

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    I would use the second cause it sounds right to me.
    I asked my brother and my dad. My brother agreed and my dad says either or would work but he said he would use the second.
    I would say considering the replies you receive and the thoughts of my family would be that pick what sounds right to you in this case.
    Plus consider the meaning of the two words.
    "that" specifies an object or a person that doesn't need to be specified.
    "When" (I looked up a definition on dictionary.com) under what circumstances? upon what occasion?
     
  6. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    It all depends on the voice of the character narrating. It would help to know to what they are referring, but either of yours would work. Though I like @sahlmi 's version the best. It is shorter and still holds the effect.
     
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  7. Laurin Kelly
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    Laurin Kelly Active Member

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    Mine as well!
     
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  8. sahlmi
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    sahlmi Active Member

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    I just feel when "that" is perfectly understood, it's not needed. Another useless word shaved...unless you specifically want it there.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2016
  9. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do this a lot, too. 'That' is one of the first words I try to eliminate... if that's at all possible.
     
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  10. JLT
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    JLT Active Member

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    The actual sentence is: " A month seldom goes by when I don’t hear of an adventurous person or family buying a bus and taking it around the country."

    Somehow, "A month seldom goes by I don't hear..." seems ungraceful to me. I think it's all those stressed syllables in a row. But perhaps that's just my style of writing.
     
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  11. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Glad you said that. I was going to post a similar sentiment a while back but thought I was being an artsy knob. But yes, I often prefer to include the relative pronouns, feeling that it often ruins the flow/rhythm of the sentence to remove them. It's a case-by-case thing though. Looking at this post, I've done both.
     
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I suspect that this may partly be an age thing. I'm fifty, and missing "that"s feel sloppy or extremely informal to me.
     
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  13. sahlmi
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    sahlmi Active Member

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    Then I suppose "you specifically want it there." I do well without it. Pretty much why I included "a personal preference."
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2016

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