1. captken
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    captken Member

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    Why would you use "That" to start the following sentences?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by captken, Nov 5, 2012.

    In the last issue of a well known fishing magazine I found two sentences started with "That."

    "That XXXX let us use the boat for three days--" And later, "That the wind was blowing 30kts--"

    By the way, these two sentences were written by the same person and each appeared in a different article.

    My only writing book, "The Elements of Style" doesn't address the usage as far as I can tell. The sentences
    feel stiff to me.
     
  2. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    It's kind of a backward way to write... I'm assuming that the above sentences don't just stop but probably continue on correct? So it would be, "That XXXX let us use the boat for three days was amazing." (Or something along those lines.) If you didn't start the sentence with that, you'd have to restructure the whole thing. But basically what is happening there is the writer is inverting the sentence. Instead of saying,

    "It was amazing that XXXX let us use the sailboat for three whole days."

    He/She puts the 'It was amazing' at the end. I think it's just a style thing. I find nothing wrong with it, it's just a matter of taste.

    (It should be noted however that I am not a grammar expert. If this is all wrong, someone should correct me! :))
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you need to quote the entire sentences, as well as what came before them, if you want valid opinions...
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. For example, if the sentence was something like "That the wind was already blowing at more than 30 knots simply confirmed Jim's decision not to venture out onto the water", then I would see no problem.
     
  5. PaleWriter
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    PaleWriter Member

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    Thank you for sharing this.
    Early in my writing I discovered [that] I am one of those people [that] uses the word "that" entirely too, too much. Some writers [that] haven't recognized the awkwardness of this construction and don't understand [that] in most cases the word [that] could be left out entirely and [that] it would never be missed.

    While I am no word vulture or grammar freak, I discovered [that] my writing was full of the T-words and [that it] needed complete eradication of "that". Every time I use "that" word a bell goes off in my head with an inquiry as to whether or not "that" was actually necessary. On occasion, "that" passes muster and is incorporated into the final draft.

    As for RULES of writing on the usage of "that", I haven't a clue.
    Writing RULES are not my forte.
    T-words are my bane.
    'This', 'that' and 'the' are probably more overused in writing than any others.
    I watch for them with the eye of a butcher trimming fat.

    T-words break flow, interrupt the reader's concentration and are just down right awkward.

    As an example, I will demonstrate with an edit of Pheonix's remarks by flagging and removing "that" with brackets. Reading without T-words improves flow and focus. No offense intended Pheonix. 'Ware ye the T-words!
    Does usage break some arcane rule? Probably not.
    BUT... IT DON'T WORK!
     
  6. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    If that's the whole sentence then there's nothing unusual at all about it. "That XXXX" can simply be a noun phrase if "XXXX" is in place of something like "tall man standing by the bar".
    If that was a construction like "That the wind was blowing 30kts didn't spoil our picnic" it's a perfectly normal construction. It's a little formal and old fashioned, which is probably what you mean by "stiff".
    You need a better writing book. Seriously.
     

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