Monday, May 28, 2012

Removing 'That' Word

One of the most commonly overused words is “that.” So much of the time you can delete “that” word and the sentence doesn’t lose any of its meaning.

When using “that” as a conjunction, its purpose is to introduce a dependent clause if the sentence sounds or looks awkward without it. But as the Associated Press Stylebook notes, there are no hard-and-fast rules.
One easy way to rid your copy of too many “that’s” is removing it after the word “said.” For example, Mary said she was ready to share her new blog post. See how removing “that” doesn’t impact the meaning of the sentence?

One important distinction is the difference between “that” and “which.” Use “that” for essential clauses important to the meaning of the sentence (no comma needed). Use “which” for nonessential clauses and offset the clause with a comma. A good way to remember the difference: if you can drop the clause and not impact the meaning of the sentence, use “which.”

Are your sentences cluttered with “that?” Could you delete few and make your writing cleaner? What other words are overused? 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks fopr this, Holly.  I find I am constantly removing "that" during my proof reads.  Great reminder!