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Syntax Training | Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

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October 27, 2012



Hi, I quite agree with you, but I realize that when I type a sentence using that, at first it seems logical but after awhile it seems better without "that" or such conjunctions.

Though in the above article, using that in sentence 2. and 4. seems appropriate.

In sentence 1. when conversing with a friend using that feels appropriate whereas in an office not using that would be more logical. That seems to give a reason to converse further when used with a friend in this case.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Thanks for your views. I agree that we often choose to sound different with our friends.

I do think conversation is different from writing: We can use our voices to emphasize parts of the sentence, and we can quickly clarify what we mean in an exchange. Whether we use "that" is probably less important when we talk.


Mike Bondi

I prefer retaining "that" in nearly all writings as dictated by my ear. As you mentioned, it is helpful when most of the readers are from diverse backgrounds.


Good topic. I have struggled with this and more often omit (or delete) "that." I think in technical writing, "that" tends to be overused. People use it as a crutch instead of writing simpler sentences saying more precisely what they mean. I was re-reading your examples above, the confusion in most of them comes because the sentences describe who does something. If they didn't do that (ha) they wouldn't need "that."

"The workflow needs several more screens" is clear. Inserting who determined it needed screen is what makes the need forh"that" a bit more dicey.


Margaret Elwood

I'm often confused by IT technical writing that is too terse. Thank you for this clarifying insight!

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Mike. You agree with "Microsoft Manual of Style." That is certainly a defensible choice.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Jennifer. Great observation! You probably can imagine that I struggled to come up with sentences to illustrate my points. (Yet I just wrote another one with "that." Oops.)

It would be nice if we could always keep things simple.

Thanks for sharing.


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

My pleasure, Margaret. I am glad to be helpful.


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