Superflous Thats

The word ‘that’ is, from what I can tell in my editing, the single most overused word in the English language. Sometimes necessary, but often overused, taking ‘that’ out of a sentence usually makes the sentence stronger, more concise, and at least one word less wordy.

Some examples:

How can I show you that I want you to smile?

Can be rewritten:

How can I show you I want you to smile?

And the meaning of the sentence is not changed, and the intent is actually, perhaps, slightly clearer.

Some more examples:

I want you to know that I love you.

I want you to know I love you.

I decided to have a little fun and went to a popular news site and found some superfluous ‘thats’ there.

From this article, on MSNBC, we find the very first sentence has a superfluous ‘that’ in it.

“We like to think that presidential elections matter.”

What should have been written, to be more concise and grammatically accurate, without padding word count, is:

“We like to think presidential elections matter.”

When trying to keep under a certain word count, be concise and accurate, as well as using good grammar practices, be sure to check your writing for those superfluous ‘thats’ and remove them. Keep in mind, not every instance of ‘that’ is superfluous though. In some sentences, ‘that’ is necessary!

For example:

What that really necessary?

What do you think about that?

I don’t know what to do about that.

If you were to remove ‘that’ from those sentences, the meaning of the sentences would clearly change, or make no sense.

Keep writing!

Love and stuff,
Michy