Author Topic: Leave "that" out of a sentence.  (Read 2145 times)

Max_with_word_processor

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Leave "that" out of a sentence.
« on: October 07, 2011, 11:09:37 AM »
It is acceptable, or preferable, to leave 'that' out of sentences like these?

These are the books I need for class.
It was so dark I couldn't see anything.
I stood on a box so I could see over the top.

With that included:

These are the books that I need for class.
It was so dark that I couldn't see anything.
I stood on a box so that I could see over the top.

Offline ma100

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Re: Leave "that" out of a sentence.
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2011, 11:11:27 AM »
Preferable Max. ;) It's unneccessary.

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Leave "that" out of a sentence.
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2011, 11:27:51 AM »
Sounds fine without 'that' -- cull it wherever you can! ;) ;) ;)
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Silt

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Re: Leave "that" out of a sentence.
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2011, 02:46:55 PM »
Either or. If I needed to trim a few then I'd remove 'that', but wouldn't say it had to.

on the other hand.


I couldn't see (anything)  the braced word is redundant and stems away from the fact that he couldn't see.

I know this is an example, but habits in writing cross over often.


Offline Joe Mynhardt

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Re: Leave "that" out of a sentence.
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2011, 02:52:50 PM »
I wouldn't use it for narrative, but perhaps in dialogue for one or two characters. Something
to think about when you're writing 1st person as well, to fit in with the characters mannerisms.
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Offline Taylor

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Re: Leave "that" out of a sentence.
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2011, 03:54:28 PM »
The relative pronoun that (or which/who/whom) can and should be omitted unless it's the subject of the relative clause. And as a conjunction, that can almost always be omitted: I knew/said (that) he would be there. But sometimes it's best to retain it, as in very complex sentences, or after certain verbs - She implored that he be released - or to avoid ambiguity: I heard yesterday that he was ill vs I heard that yesterday he was ill.
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Silt

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Re: Leave "that" out of a sentence.
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2011, 06:02:20 PM »
Or go further.


I like/play ball games.


I like games with balls.


*

I used to obsess on what to remove. Remember, its only a 'that'. As long as the balance doesn't exceed. Being non-essential doesn't mean that can't exist. You have that choice as the writer.

By-the-way, Tony and Taylor. Excellent examples, well done. I like learning gems of information. I know the rules but not many by name.

Thank you again.

Silt

Max_with_word_processor

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Re: Leave "that" out of a sentence.
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2011, 11:34:16 AM »
Thanks all. That's Great information.

Offline Matt Walker

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Re: Leave "that" out of a sentence.
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2011, 03:10:52 PM »
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Offline Gayle

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Re: Leave "that" out of a sentence.
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2011, 03:36:22 PM »
These are the books I need for class.
It was so dark I couldn't see anything.
I stood on a box so I could see over the top.

With that included:

These are the books that I need for class.
It was so dark that I couldn't see anything.
I stood on a box so that I could see over the top.
Whether or not you leave "that" out of these sentences has as much to do with the kind of stories you're writing and their intended audience as proper grammar does.

If you're writing literary-style fiction, then your intended audience is most likely going to have a post-secondary education, and after years of writing essays, people can become surprisingly Blocked about formal points of grammar. For those readers, you should definately include "that".

If your writing genre fiction, then your intended audience is going to have many different levels of education, so leaving "that" out is just fine. Unless you end up with a publisher who insists on "that" being included as a matter of house style.
"I was born of writing. Before that, there was only a play of mirrors." - Jean Paul Sartre

Tony_A20

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Re: Leave "that" out of a sentence.
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2011, 04:43:44 PM »
Rather than being ungrammatical, if you think using “that” is too stuffy, it’s a simple matter to reword the sentence. Here are three ways to eliminate the problem.

I need these books for class.
I couldn’t see anything because it was so dark.
Standing on a box, I could see over the top.



Offline Gayle

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Re: Leave "that" out of a sentence.
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2011, 12:26:59 AM »
Tony: changing sentence structure is always an option, but you should make sure that the change in structure doesn't ruin the rhythm or pacing of the paragraph.
"I was born of writing. Before that, there was only a play of mirrors." - Jean Paul Sartre

Max_with_word_processor

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Re: Leave "that" out of a sentence.
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2011, 10:07:54 AM »

I have a follow on question about leaving words out. Since this is similar, I thought I would continue in this thread. Do you think it is preferable to leave "me" out of these, especially if the surrounding context has already established there are other people around:

The voice came from behind me.

There were a couple of reassuring pats on my back from the people behind me.

“Watch out,” Bobby said from behind me.





Offline Matt Walker

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Re: Leave "that" out of a sentence.
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2011, 12:38:32 PM »
In my opinion I think all the examples read better if the 'me' is left in.
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Offline Gayle

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Re: Leave "that" out of a sentence.
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2011, 07:17:37 PM »
I agree with Matt.

"The voice came from behind" could be from behind anything: a partition, a counter.
"I was born of writing. Before that, there was only a play of mirrors." - Jean Paul Sartre