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There is one thing what they want.
there is one thing that they wantEmotion: embarrassed

Are both ok?
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Comments  
Only the second one is acceptable. IMO
"There is one thing what they want"
If you refer to a verb (want), you must use what.
My reading is that they want (to have or do) only one thing in life.

We have chocolate, meat, bread.
There is only one thing that they want means to me that among the above things they only need, say, the chocolate.
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This is what they want.

There is only one thing (that) they want.
If you refer to a verb (want), you must use what.
Can you expand on this? Where did you get this? What does it mean?
I've never heard such a thing.
__________

Only the second version in the original post is correct.

CJ
At Yahoo:

"the thing what they want"
133 hits
and most of them are from:
"... thing. What they want ..."

"thing that they want"
9,310 hits

thus forget about the first.

Also, at Google, a search in online literature with:
site:literaturepost.com "thing what they want"
did not match any documents.
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CalifJim
If you refer to a verb (want), you must use what.
Can you expand on this? Where did you get this? What does it mean?
I've never heard such a thing.
__________

Only the second version in the original post is correct.

CJ

What I must do is write a letter. "What" (and not that) here refers to the verb: write.
This is the letter that I must write. "That" (and not what) here refers to a demonstrative (pro)noun: this.
Notwithstanding this, my first sentence is false indeed.
There is one thing (what) that they want.

Now I see.
InchoateknowledgeThere is one thing what they want.
there is one thing that they wantEmotion: embarrassed

Are both ok?

This is my take. # 2 may be correct but seems to be imcomplete. What I must do is [to] write a letter. This sentence is missing an infinitive. "What" refers to the act of “writing a letter”

“That” refers to the letter as a noun..


There is one thing (what) that they want. – Even if this is correct, I believe the context is incomplete. The sentence could be better conceived if rewritten as “What they want is one thing that …..”

What I must do is write a letter. "What" (and not that) here refers to the verb: write.
This is the letter that I must write. "That" (and not what) here refers to a demonstrative (pro)noun: this.
OK. Got it. I've never heard it stated that way.

And, by the way, in the second sentence that refers to letter.

This is the letter. Which letter? The letter that I must write.

Not:

This is the letter. Which this? The this that I must write.

____

In what I must do, you might think of it as that thing which I must do or that which I must do.
Maybe it will help. (Maybe it won't! Think of it that way if it helps.)
The what in this structure is called a fused relative (pronoun) because the meanings of that and which are fused together into one word, what. So what in this context serves both as antecedent and as consequent; it straddles both clauses, so to speak.

CJ
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