Cut “That” Out—Seriously

by ProWritingAid Oct 28, 2016, 0 Comments

Cut THAT out

You want clear, concise writing, so make every word count. Definitely cut out extraneous words, especially “that,” taking up space without adding value.

Consider the following sentences:

  • He released the new editorial calendar at the departmental meeting that we all attended.

  • Double-check to ensure that every client receives our new price schedule.

  • She told me that she would be late for our luncheon meeting.

  • It’s raining cats and dogs, meaning that you should bring an umbrella.

Each of these sentences can stand alone without “that.” See if these read better:

  • He released the new editorial calendar at the departmental meeting we all attended.

  • Double-check to ensure every client receives our new price schedule.

  • She told me she would be late for our luncheon meeting.

  • It’s raining cats and dogs, meaning you should bring an umbrella.

Removing “that” doesn’t change the meaning of the sentence and only makes it more concise.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are some instances when you need to keep “that” to avoid confusion. Some examples are:

  • The accountant identified the Excel spreadsheet needs more columns.

  • The CEO announced the latest sales figures increase our profit margin.

  • Mary conveyed her understanding examples would enhance the presentation.

  • Mark noticed more books this year were from first-time authors.

At first blush, you think the sentences are about:

  • An accountant who identified Excel spreadsheet needs

  • The CEO announced the latest sales figures increase

  • Mary conveyed her understanding examples (rather unwieldy, right?)

  • Mark noticed more books this year

These sentences would be clarified by adding “that” to the mix.

  • The accountant identified that the excel spreadsheet needs more columns.

  • The CEO announced that the latest sales figures increase our profit margin.

  • Mary conveyed her understanding that examples would enhance the presentation.

  • Mark noticed that more books this year were from first-time authors.

Take-Aways

Only eliminate “that” from a sentence when it won’t mislead your reader. The last thing you want is for your readers to have to reread your sentences to figure out your meaning.

Give them something worthwhile with every word so they keep reading.

Love grammar? Check out our Grammar Rules posts and these great articles from our archive:


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