PDA

View Full Version : that



Puma
07-13-2006, 04:42 AM
I am one of the "unfortunate" ones who use "that" ten times more than is common practice these days (I see that there will be rather than I see there will be). Is this/could this be a carryover from my family's Germanic background? I obviously learned to speak and write this way somewhere. Any ideas on where this may have come from? Thanks for any insights (and let me tell you, it's a hard habit to break). Puma

CaroGirl
07-13-2006, 05:15 AM
I have this habit too. Where yours comes from I couldn't say. Mine comes from technical writing. To avoid ambiguity, we use *that* a LOT. Tech writing needs to be concise, yet crystal clear, and that is often required to make it as clear as possible.

I'm thinking about doing a search for *that* in all my work and taking out all the unnecessary ones (I know they're in there).

veinglory
07-13-2006, 05:19 AM
I do this too and my known family background doesn't get any closer to Germany than Australia (but who knows why they ended up there!). Reading aloud generally helps me prune out extra 'that's (and add missing commas).

MidnightMuse
07-13-2006, 05:22 AM
For me, it's the word Just. I just use it way too often, and have to let myself go ahead and do it, then when the ms is done, use that global Find/replace thingiemabob to weed them out :)

Silver King
07-13-2006, 06:39 AM
A few indiscriminate "thats" and several unnecessary "justs" shouldn't bring the house down in flames. I'm guilty of overusing both, in particular "so that" and "just like." But I don't care. There's enough to obsess about with words that it's not worth going down a list of guilty pleasures each time a sentence is wrought.

Puma
07-13-2006, 01:56 PM
You may have hit on something, Carogirl, I did a lot of tech writing earlier in my career - that could be the culprit. I'm very glad to know I'm not alone in overusing that (and just and I'll add so too - but that is my worst). Puma

kristie911
07-13-2006, 04:51 PM
I overuse "that" a lot too. When I was doing rewrites on my novel, I realized it and trimmed out a ton of them. I do notice I use it a lot when I'm speaking also...I'm 1/2 German but I think it's more of a regional thing here because I notice other people using it too.

Kristen King
07-13-2006, 07:03 PM
What makes you think you're overusing it, just out of curiosity? There seems to be a serious rash of UNDERuse these days, so maybe you're comparing yourself to something that's incorrect in the first place?

Kristen

TsukiRyoko
07-13-2006, 08:14 PM
What makes you think you're overusing it, just out of curiosity?

Once you become conscious of certain words you use, you begin to realize just how regularly you use them. That makes some people think they use it too often.

I don't think it's too much to worry about, since only the harshest critics give much notice to it, but it helps cure the guilt if you try to rid yourself of it.

Puma
07-14-2006, 02:33 AM
In the last post the sentence "That makes some people think they use it too often." made me realize the alternative word in a lot of cases for that is which. If I'm not mistaken, Word underlines which as being undesirable but doesn't underline that. That's interesting. Puma

Sandi LeFaucheur
07-14-2006, 02:35 AM
Word underlines which as being undesirable but doesn't underline that. That's interesting. Puma

That may be because which should (usually) be preceeded by a comma, but that is not.

veinglory
07-14-2006, 02:38 AM
What makes you think you're overusing it, just out of curiosity?

In my case, my editor.

Jamesaritchie
07-14-2006, 03:18 AM
What makes you think you're overusing it, just out of curiosity? There seems to be a serious rash of UNDERuse these days, so maybe you're comparing yourself to something that's incorrect in the first place?

Kristen

It's almost impossible to underuse the word "that." The test is pretty simple. Delete it from a sentence. If the sentence is still grammatical, and still makes sense, you should leave "that" deleted.

"That" isn't a bad word, but it is one of the most overused, and incorrectly used, words out there.

"That" should be used where needed, but far more often than not, it isn't needed. Writers use it without testing it, and this is always bad.

rekirts
07-14-2006, 06:29 PM
I find it's always a good idea to go on a "that" search and destroy mission after I finish writing a story. I wasn't aware that I overused it until someone pointed it out to me. Now I know I overuse it badly, but I don't worry about it until revision time.

FloVoyager
07-14-2006, 06:48 PM
That is just not something I worry about, until editing time. Just get the story down and working first, then worry about that. ;)

TsukiRyoko
07-14-2006, 07:57 PM
In the last post the sentence "That makes some people...
Ah, you got me, Puma!

Still, many people would over look overusing "that" or give recognition if you replaced it with "which" so you could probably get away with it.

A random thought- the word might be overrun by "which" soon. Sure, it'd give "that" a break, but "which" doesn't know what it's getting in to...

Kristen King
07-14-2006, 08:26 PM
But "which" is used incorrectly so frequently that I'd rather have too much "that" than be over-run with incorrect "which" in its place because it sounds "fancier." They are NOT interchangeable, people! (This is directed at the last 25 pieces I've edited, not at anyone in the forum, btw. :])

Kristen

Jamesaritchie
07-14-2006, 09:13 PM
But "which" is used incorrectly so frequently that I'd rather have too much "that" than be over-run with incorrect "which" in its place because it sounds "fancier." They are NOT interchangeable, people! (This is directed at the last 25 pieces I've edited, not at anyone in the forum, btw. :])

Kristen

The idea is to use both correctly, and not to overuse either. But "that" kills good writing.

How do you use "which" as a substitute for "that?"

reph
07-14-2006, 09:37 PM
How do you use "which" as a substitute for "that?"Kristen must have meant the incorrect "which" to introduce a restrictive clause. "Here's the letter which Sam wrote today."

Kristen King
07-14-2006, 11:05 PM
Kristen must have meant the incorrect "which" to introduce a restrictive clause. "Here's the letter which Sam wrote today."

That's exactly what I meant, and a pefect example. Thanks!

Kristen