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Hi people!

I know of some cases when "that" can be omitted, as in: "I told him (that) he was looking great tonight."

Can we always omit "that" when it has this function? Here, I see it as merely connecting the two clauses.

BTW, which part of speech is "that" in my example above? Is it a subordinating conjunction?

Now, I know that, in some other cases, we can't omit it. Why is this so and which are these cases? (Of course I'm not speaking here about demonstrative pronouns.)

Now that I come to think of it, I believe this is an example of a sentence where "that" can't be omitted, but of course "that" is here a different part of speech (relative pronoun): "The dress that is lying on the bed is mine.", "The table that is broken looks awful in the room."

And, again, a case where I think it can't be omited and functions as a subordinating conjunction:

1. That your brother is a bore is undeniable.

What about this other example, which is very similar, but I doubt whether we could omit "that" here or not:

2. It is true that dental work is expensive. (I wouldn't omit it here, but I'm not sure.)

Now, what about these cases? Can "that" be omited here?:

3. I was sure that she was right

4. The belief that rates will rise soon is making everyone panic.

Here, "that" is functioning as a complement of an adjective (1) and of a noun (2).

Lastly,

5. All that glitters is not gold. "That" is the subject here, isn't it? I think it is almost obvious it can't be omitted but what part of speech is it? A relative pronoun as well?

Thanks a lot!

Mara.
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Comments  
Just found your answer. "That" can be omitted when the meaning of the sentence remains clear.

2. It is true that dental work is expensive. (I wouldn't omit it here, but I'm not sure.)

I wouldn't omit it either.

3. I was sure that she was right

4. The belief that rates will rise soon is making everyone panic.

3 appears to be fine without it: I was sure she was right.

4. The belief rates... this changes the sentence, "belief rates" sounds like a statistic.

5. All that glitters is not gold. "That" is the subject here, isn't it? I think it is almost obvious it can't be omitted but what part of speech is it? A relative pronoun as well?

Without "that", glitters looks like the subject.
Thanks a lot, Vorpar!!

Could you or anyone answer my questions in #5?

BTW, my question was about when "that" can't be omited, not the other way round.

Thanks a lot!

Mara.
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As a rule you can't omit "that" when it's a subject.
Thanks Pieanne!

Can't we omit it in any other case?

Regards,

Mara.
Hello Mara

The issue you are asking is really a messy one. First of all, please know there are two sorts of sub clauses led by "that": relative clauses and conjunctive clauses.

Relative that
In the case 'that' is a relative, the problem is rather easy. [1] When "that" stands as the subject in a sub clause, never omit 'that'. [2] When "that" stands as the object in a sub clause, you can omit 'that' and the omission is even preferable.
(o) He is the man that lives next door to us.
(x) He is the man lives next door to us.
(o) All that glitters is not gold.
(x) All glitters is not gold.
(o) The man that you spoke to yesterday is my teacher.
(o) The man you spoke to yesterday is my teacher.

Conjunctive that
(1) Nominal that-clause as the object of a verb
When conjunctive that-clauses are used as the object of a 'soft' verb like 'tell', 'hear', 'believe', 'wish', 'know', etc., 'that' omission is quite common. But when the main clause verb is a 'hard' verb like 'confirm', 'recognize', 'announce', 'inform', etc., that omission is rather rare.
(o) I know that you are my friend.
(o) I know you are my friend.
(o) She recognized that she was wrong.
(?) She recognized she was wrong.
[1] That omission is rare when the sub clause is in passive constructs.
(o) We are informed that the midterm exam has been postponed.
(x) We are informed the midterm exam has been postponed.
[2] That omission is natural when the sub clause is a 'there' construct.
(?) I don't think that there'll be time to visit the museum.
(o) I don't think there'll be time to visit the museum.
[3] When two sub clauses coordinately follow a verb, the omission of the second 'that' should be avoided to make it clear that the second sub clause is a subordinate clause.
(o) They knew he had no gun but that he pretended to have one.
(x) They knew he had no gun but he pretended to have one.
[4] That omission should be avoided when the sub clause does not start with an adverbial to make it clear that the adverbial belongs to the sub clause.
(o) They knew that in those days people had been very poor in that area.
(x) They knew in those days people had been very poor in that area.
(2) Nominal that-clause as a subject
When a nominal that-clause stands as the subject of a main clause, 'that' can never be omitted.
(o) That your brother is a bore is undeniable.
(x) Your brother is a bore is undeniable.
(3) Nominal that-clause in 'expletive it' constructions
In the construction of <it is … that …>, 'that' is often omitted in informal speech.
(o) It's odd that he didn't know it.
(o) It's odd he didn't know it.
(4) Nominal that-clause as a complement
When a that-clause is used as a complement in a main clause, 'that' is often omitted in informal speech.
(o) It seems that the baby is asleep.
(o) It seems the baby is asleep.
(o) The truth is that he didn't know it.
(o) The truth is he didn't know it.
(5) Nominal that-clause as an appositive to a noun
When a that-clause is used as an appositive to a noun, 'that' cannot be omitted.
(o) The belief that rates will rise soon is making everyone panic.
(x) The belief rates will rise soon is making everyone panic.
(6) Nominal that-clause as a prepositional object
When a that-clause is used as the object of a preposition, 'that' usually cannot be omitted. But 'that' in <except that> can be omitted.
(o) He resembles his father in that he is fond of music.
(x) He resembles his father in he is fond of music..
(o) I forgot everything except that I wanted to go home.
(o) I forgot everything except I wanted to go home.
(7) Adverbial that-clauses
The 'that' in <such that> and <in order that> cannot be omitted. The 'that' in <so that> is often omitted in informal speech.
(o) Diana was such a pretty woman that everyone loved her.
(x) Diana was such a pretty woman everyone loved her.
(o) The hardness of diamond is such that it cuts glass.
(x) The hardness of diamond is such it cuts glass.
(o) She studies hard in order that she will pass the exam.
(x) She studies hard in order she will pass the coming exam.
(o) She studies hard so that she will pass the coming exam.
(o) She studies hard so she will pass the coming exam.
(o) She studied hard, so that she passed the exam.
(o) She studies hard, so she passed the exam.

(o) She studied so hard that she passed the exam.
(o) She studies so hard she passed the exam.
(8) That-clauses as adjective's complement.
When a that-clause is used as the complement of an adjective, 'that' mostly can be omitted. But in the case when the adjective is a 'hard' one (that is, not often used in speech), that omission is rare.
(o) I am happy that she accepted my proposal.
(o) I'm happy she accepted my proposal.
(o) I'm surprised that she accepted my proposal.
(?) I'm surprised she accepted my proposal.
(o) I am sure that she will accept my proposal.
(o) I'm sure that she'll my proposal.
(o) I am afraid that she won't accept my proposal.
(o) I'm afraid she won't accept my proposal.
(o) She is anxious that her son (should) succeed.
(?) She is anxious her son (should) succeed.

paco
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Wow Paco! That was a thorough explanation! Congratulations and thanks!

My added comments will be in red.

Conjunctive that
(1) Nominal that-clause as the object of a verb
When conjunctive that-clauses are used as the object of a 'soft' verb like 'tell', 'hear', 'believe', 'wish', 'know', etc., 'that' omission is quite common. But when the main clause verb is a 'hard' verb like 'confirm', 'recognize', 'announce', 'inform', etc., that omission is rather rare.

[4] That omission should be avoided when the sub clause does not start with an adverbial to make it clear that the adverbial belongs to the sub clause.
(o) They knew that in those days people had been very poor in that area.
(x) They knew in those days people had been very poor in that area.
Certainly, it not clear in this second example where the adverbial "in those days" belongs to. But wouldn't it be simpler to say "They knew people in those days had been very poor in that area." Is this version also possible? Or do you still get a sense of ambiguity?

(7) Adverbial that-clauses
The 'that' in <such that> and <in order that> cannot be omitted. The 'that' in <so that> is often omitted in informal speech.
(o) Diana was such a pretty woman that everyone loved her. I agree
(x) Diana was such a pretty woman everyone loved her. I agree
(o) The hardness of diamond is such that it cuts glass. I agree
(x) The hardness of diamond is such it cuts glass. I agree
(o) She studies hard in order that she will pass the exam. I agree
(x) She studies hard in order she will pass the coming exam. I agree


In some of these last examples, I feel there's a change in meaning (however slight) when omitting "that". First of all, I think we should distinguish the "so that" in the first four sentences from the "so......that" in the last two. The former is a subordinating conjunction expressing "result" OR "purpose" , wheras the latter is a subordinating conjunction expressing only "result". When "that" is omitted in the subordinating conjunction "so.....that", I don't feel there's the risk of changing the sense of the sentence. However, I DO feel such a shift when "that" is dropped from the subordinating conjunction "so that". I'm not saying that it is not possible for "so" to have BOTH meanings, I'm just pointing out that sentences (2) and (4) below may be, at least, ambiguous. I'll write what I take the meaning to be beside each sentence:
1.(o) She studies hard so that she will pass the coming exam. Here, "so that" conveys the idea of "purpose" = She studies hard in order that she will pass the coming exam.
2. (o) She studies hard so she will pass the coming exam. Here, "so" can also be considered a coordinating conjunction conveying the idea of "inference", "effect" or "consequence" = She studies hard. Therefore / For that reason, she will pass the exam. / She studies hard and as a consequence of this, she will pass the exam.
3. (o) She studied hard, so that she passed the exam. Here, I can sense an idea of "result" which would coincide with the meaning in #4. But the sense of "purpose" can also be implicit in this sentence, can't it? If this were the case, the sentence wouldn't read as #4.
4. (o) She studies hard, so she passed the exam.
Same as 2
5. (o) She studied so hard that she passed the exam. I agree
6. (o) She studies so hard she passed the exam. I agree


What do you think? I'd appreciate it if you could comment on this.

Thanks a lot!

Regards,

Mara.



Hello Mara

As you know well, <so that> can mean both PURPOSE and RESULT when no comma is put before it. This ambiguity is retained even when 'that' is deleted from it. We have only to know in which sense it is used, by considering the context.
(EX) Teacher, could you please speak louder so I can hear you. (PURPOSE)
(EX) The teacher spoke little English so we were reduced to smile. (RESULT)

paco
Thanks for the quick reply, Paco!

I'd like to ask you some more questions:

1. What do you think about my first question in my previous post? Is that rephrasing also possible?

2.
As you know well, <so that> can mean both PURPOSE and RESULT when no comma is put before it. This ambiguity is retained even when 'that' is deleted from it

Right! That was exactly my point! But I think that we may run the risk of turning the "so" in "The teacher spoke little English so we were reduced to smile" into a coordinating conjunction expressing "result", rather than a subordinating one, as I stated before. Is this also possible or is there no such possiblity of misinterpretation here, since there is no comma before "so"? If it were indeed possible, it would be a great risk we would be running, for we would parse the sentence completely differently:

"So" as coordinating conjunction:

The teacher spoke little English = MC (so we were reduced to smile) = SC > Simple sentence with a main clause and a subordinate clause.

"So" as subordinating conjunction:

(The teacher spoke little English) = S so (we were reduced to smile) = S : Complex sentence composed of two different sentences joined by the coordinating conjunction "so".

I'd like to have your comments on this.

Thanks again!

Regards,

Mara.
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