1. Jack
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    Jack Contributing Member

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    That that that that

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Jack, Dec 23, 2008.

    I frequently use the word "that" a lot (Its just so repetitive, meaning less word that I want to get rid of my vocabulary), when I reply to other writers posts or when I review written work.

    Is there an alternative word to use, instead of the word "That"?
    Please help.
     
  2. Daedalus
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    Daedalus Active Member

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    Depends on the context of the sentence. "Which" is usually a good word to use. But it doesn't work as a substitute for all forms of "that".

    Look at the sentence. Is there a better way of wording it? One that avoids the use of "that" altogether? There are usually ways around it if you re-word.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, Jack. Without some examples so that in order for us to understand the uses that which you find repetitive, we're going to have a a tough time helping you with that this.
     
  4. Jack
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    Jack Contributing Member

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    Thanks Sam, for the tip!

    Thanks for an example Wreybies, I will soon, post an example of where I used the word "that" a lot... (I just have to find it)
     
  5. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    People seem to make a lot or errors when they're using 'that'.
    I just found a few points on using ‘that’ from one of the worksheets I use with my students (I made the worksheet up some years ago, so I can't remember if I did it from my head, a coursebook or the net; a combination of all three, I think.)
    The topic of using 'that' doesn’t end here, but the notes below highlight the problem areas, I think.

    Enjoy!

    You must use that:

    After: all, everything, something, anything, nothing, none, little, few, much, e.g ‘Is there something that (not ‘which’) you want?’

    After superlatives, e.g. ‘She was the most beautiful girl that (not ‘who’) he had ever seen.’

    In defining relative clauses the relative pronoun is often left out if it is the object of the verb (so in the examples above it can, in fact, be left out).

    Further e.g

    You can leave 'that' out here:
    That’s the car. He bought the car. = That’s the car (that) he bought.
    But don't leave 'that' out here:
    I don’t like students. Students don’t work. = I don’t like students THAT don’t work.

    In a non-defining relative clause ‘that’ cannot be used and object relative pronouns cannot be left out. Punctuation also affects meaning. Compare the meanings of these sentences:

    "He tore up me a letter that upset me." (The letter upset me)
    "He tore up the letter which upset me. (Same as above, The letter upset me)
    "He tore up the letter, which upset me." (His tearing up the letter upset me)
     
  6. Jack
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    Jack Contributing Member

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    Thank You!

    Thank you very much madhoca!

    For sharing all of your brilliant ideas and examples with us. Also, thanks for contributing your time and effort. This helps me a ton! I am going to print this off, right now!

    (Notice how I havn't used the word "that" in my sentences so far :))
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's usually not a good alternative, since it's often used incorrectly and is not a substitute for 'that'... they both have very different uses... 'that' is restrictive and 'which' is not...

    DO leave it out!... things are 'that' and people are 'who'...

    first of all, the first sentence is nonsensical, with that 'me' in the middle'... and using the restrictive/non-restrictive differentiation, only 'that' is grammatical in either example, if they were both sense-making sentences, since it's dealing with a specific letter...

    since most folks aren't that nit-picky, you probably won't lose a sale from using the wrong one, but good grammar does count for something, i should think...
     
  8. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry maia! The worksheet was 3 pages and I was very quickly trying to shorten the examples. I don't know where the 'me' came from! It should of course read:

    He tore up the letter that upset me.

    In the other example, the point was, it is impossible to leave out 'that':

    I don't like students don't work. ???????

    I didn't mean that you can't use 'who' here as well, though.
    Sorry about that! Been busy lately and trying to do everything in a hurry so I can take Christmas Day off.
     
  9. katepowellshine
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    katepowellshine New Member

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    If I may . . . I believe the sentence should read

    I don't like students who don't read . . .
     
  10. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    ----
    Bob wrinkled his forehead and turned to Jill. "Can you help me with this...um... thing I write?"
    "Sure Bob, what's the prob?"
    "I'm using too many that's."
    "Show me."
    "Well, look at this that here."
    "That that?
    "No, that one."
    "Oh, that's tricky." Jill chewed her pencil. "That that over there, refers to that that over here. So you can't just leave it out."
    "Can't you rewrite the sentence?"
    "Well, you can switch this sentence to active form - which you should anyway - and then the middle that can be omitted."
    "You mean that that, which the pronoun refers to?"
    "No no", Jill said, pointing with her pencil, "that that that that that refers to."
    Bob smiled at his friend. "Thanks Jill, you're so clever. If it weren't for your help, my writing would be riddled with that's."
    ----
     
  11. bonavada
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    bonavada Member

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    Sorry to butt in.

    I don't think these two sentences are equal. The former is all-encompassing, the speaker doesn't like any students. The latter is selective, the speaker
    doesn't like only those students that don't work.

    That's my tuppence worth.

    BV
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'that' is wrong there, anyway, because people are 'who' and things are 'that'... and students are usually people... ;-)
     
  13. Phantasmal Reality
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    Phantasmal Reality Contributing Member

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    Aren't people technically things too? I think intentional misuse of 'that' can possibly say something about the narrator.

    "I don't like students who don't work." emphasis on students as people
    "I don't like students that don't work." emphasis on students as producers, almost like machines that fail to do what they're supposed to

    Way too subtle on its own, but I think it's something that could be incorporated into a character's persona.

    That being said, I say relax with dialogue. In real life, normal people don't use grammar correctly when speaking. They say what sounds good to them. Make a character speak perfectly if they're that kind of person, otherwise let them screw up some rules. :p
     
  14. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    I agree with Phantasmal. In dialogue, I definitely relax grammatical rules because very few of us speak in a grammatically correct way (if any of us do) so why should all the characters in our stories/books speak properly all the time?

    As for an overuse of "that," I'd just go back and make sure you can't make the sentence read well without the "that." Same with "had" and "was" and "were." These are all words that are overused that publishers/editors alike dislike.

    ~Lynn
     

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