“That”

18 Jun

One piece of advice I have received about writing is to try to eliminate the word “that.”

Looking at my manuscript I find I use the word “that” a lot and I struggle to remove it. Grammar Girl writes:

 “When you’re deciding whether to keep or omit your that, you need to consider how your sentence flows. Many times, it’s just a matter of personal preference. Some people think adding that improves the flow of the sentence and makes it easier for the reader to understand. Others believe they should delete every seemingly unnecessary that because they want to maintain an economy of words”

This seems like good advice but I struggle to implement it. Here is a sentence from my manuscript with and without a “that.”

a. However, it is likely you have a perfectly good memory that you could learn to use much more efficiently.

b. However, it is likely you have a perfectly good memory you could learn to use much more efficiently.

In this case the that seems necessary to me. On the other hand

a. It is likely that every reader has encountered someone suffering from clinical memory loss.

b. It is likely every reader has encountered someone suffering from clinical memory loss.

Here the that does feel superfluous.

I am curious to know what my readers think. Which versions of the sentences would you choose and why? Please let me know.

 

MarketingDog

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