Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"That" Is the New Comma

From student papers to correspondence with teachers to directions on tests to my own writing, I have notice the word "that" cropping up in unnecessary places. And let me tell you: it is driving me INSANE. It's like "that" is the new comma.


Going back to the idea of enhancing your writing and getting rid of unnecessary words, people need to start watching their use of "that" with as much (if not more) fidelity as they have learned to watch their comma usage. Here are just a handful of examples where "that" stands out like white shoes after Labor Day:
"Wait for the email that I will send you.""At any point, one could do the research and see that there were many more male pharaohs than female pharaohs.""I moved to Italy so that I could improve my Italian skills.""He hurried so that he would not be late to class.""The article is saying that the US should send aid to Nepal."
Before you close my blog never to open it again, let me say that I do understand the use of "that" to signify restrictive clauses and convey action/cause and result/effect relationships. I also understand the colloquial application of "that" and how colloquial usages often crop up in writing

However, I also understand the ways in which some sentences could be improved by the sheer exclusion of "that." Observe:
"Wait for the email I will send you." 
"At any point, one could do the research and see there were many more male pharaohs than female pharaohs." 
"I moved to Italy so I could improve my Italian skills." 
"He hurried so he would not be late to class." 
"The article is saying the US should send aid to Nepal."
Regardless of how technically correct the above sentences may have been before, I find the removal of "that" to enhance the sentences and make them more pleasurable to read.

Basically, "that" is driving me that crazy: I am willing to overlook the technically correct uses.

Having said how much "that" irritates me, let me redirect your attention to the first sentence of this post:
"From student papers to correspondence with teachers to directions on tests to my own writing, I have notice the word "that" cropping up in unnecessary places."
Yes, it is true. I am an abuser of "that," too. You may even notice my overuse of "that" in earlier posts (probably not as much in more recent posts; I have been trying to watch for it).

What do you all think? Have you noticed a flare up of "that," or am I just driving myself mad over it?

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