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  1. #1
    kobeobie is offline Newbie
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    Default Omitting the word "that".

    Have a look at the following sentence:

    She realised she had made a terrible mistake.

    It sounds to me as if the word "that" is missing.Should it be:

    She realised that she had made a terrible mistake.

    I know that you can in certain circumstances omit the relative pronoun in a relative clause but the above example does not appear to be a relative clause.My question is this when is it OK to omit the word "that"?

  2. #2
    Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
    Chicken Sandwich is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Omitting the word "that".

    ***NOT A TEACHER***

    She realised (that) she had made a terrible mistake.

    "That" is optional.

  3. #3
    Tuco is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Omitting the word "that".

    *** Not a teacher ***

    If the person who said, "She realised she had made a terrible mistake" is a native speaker of the language, s/he made the statement in a way that s/he is accustomed to hearing it, so it is acceptable.

  4. #4
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Omitting the word "that".

    Quote Originally Posted by Tuco View Post
    If the person who said, "She realised she had made a terrible mistake" is a native speaker of the language, s/he made the statement in a way that s/he is accustomed to hearing it, so it is acceptable.
    Regrettably we have to say that not everything that native speakers say, especially in informal conversation, is acceptable in semi-formal/formal writing; sometimes it is not even acceptable in formal speech. Equally, of course, some things found in formal writing would be inappropriate in a conversation between, for example, young men in a pub.

    In kobeobie's sentence, the word 'that' is, as Chicken Sandwich said, optional. The more formal the context, the more likely 'that' is to be heard/seen, in my opinion.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  5. #5
    Tuco is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Omitting the word "that".

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    Regrettably we have to say that not everything that native speakers say, especially in informal conversation, is acceptable in semi-formal/formal writing; sometimes it is not even acceptable in formal speech. Equally, of course, some things found in formal writing would be inappropriate in a conversation between, for example, young men in a pub.

    In kobeobie's sentence, the word 'that' is, as Chicken Sandwich said, optional. The more formal the context, the more likely 'that' is to be heard/seen, in my opinion.
    It may not be common in formal speech, but when someone, a parvenu perhaps, makes it into an upper class, this person might make an utterance that has not been heard in that class to that point. That doesn't make it "wrong." To say it is wrong would be taking a snap-shot of the language as it was, and trying to maintain that as a prescriptive norm.

  6. #6
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Omitting the word "that".

    Omitting "that" is perfectly acceptable in everyday speech and is what you will hear from the majority of BrE speakers. I would not recommend omitting it in an exam situation or in an oral exam. It's better to be safe than sorry.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  7. #7
    bhaisahab's Avatar
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    Default Re: Omitting the word "that".

    Quote Originally Posted by Tuco View Post
    It may not be common in formal speech, but when someone, a parvenu perhaps, makes it into an upper class, this person might make an utterance that has not been heard in that class to that point. That doesn't make it "wrong." To say it is wrong would be taking a snap-shot of the language as it was, and trying to maintain that as a prescriptive norm.
    Nobody has said that it is wrong.

  8. #8
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Omitting the word "that".

    Quote Originally Posted by Tuco View Post
    It may not be common in formal speech, but when someone, a parvenu perhaps, makes it into an upper class, this person might make an utterance that has not been heard in that class to that point. That doesn't make it "wrong." To say it is wrong would be taking a snap-shot of the language as it was, and trying to maintain that as a prescriptive norm.
    I did not use the word 'wrong' in my post.

    If two young men are talking in a pub, and one says that a foreman has been reprimanding the workforce for leaving work early, it is possible that the other might remark, "I ain't gonna take no sh*t like that from no foreman b*st*ard". The language itself is acceptable in that context, and the grammar would probably not strike anybody present as incorrect.

    However, if our young man wishes to enter different social circles, and/or gain employment as, for example, a bank clerk, shop assistant, lawyer, etc, then he will have to learn to express himself in a different way. That language will be considered unacceptable. If he uses it when attempting to pass an English language examination he will find that it is considered incorrect, and he will fail the examination.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  9. #9
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Omitting the word "that".

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Omitting "that" is perfectly acceptable in everyday speech and is what you will hear from the majority of BrE speakers. I would not recommend omitting it in an exam situation or in an oral exam. It's better to be safe than sorry.
    That might have been true a few years ago, but I think that the main British examining boards are far less concerned about insisting on the 'best' English these days. I am not so sure about American examining bodies.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  10. #10
    Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
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    Default Re: Omitting the word "that".

    Quote Originally Posted by Tuco View Post
    *** Not a teacher ***

    If the person who said, "She realised she had made a terrible mistake" is a native speaker of the language, s/he made the statement in a way that s/he is accustomed to hearing it, so it is acceptable.
    I disagree with your argument that everything a native speaker says is correct in all contexts by definition. I have heard on many occasion native speakers say, 'I got a question', meaning, 'I have a question'. The fact that it was said by a native speaker, doesn't make it right in all contexts.
    If everyone starts saying, 'I got a question', meaning, 'I have a question', then at some point, even the most conservative grammarian will have to admit that the English language has changed. At the moment, in some circles, 'I got a question', is OK, it isn't in most though.

    On the other hand, 'I haves a question', is, as it stands, incorrect, because you won't find a single native speaker saying this. This may change, but I don't see it happening any time soon.

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