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  1. #1
    dihen is offline Member
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    Default omitting the "that" in "the reason is that..."?

    Is it incorrect to omit the "that" in "The reason I gave for not coming is () I was sick."?

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    Default Re: omitting the "that" in "the reason is that..."?

    It's not strictly incorrect, but the sentence sounds much better with "that". The verb should be "was", not "is", because it must agree with "gave" (past imperfect tense).

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    dihen is offline Member
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    Default Re: omitting the "that" in "the reason is that..."?

    Quote Originally Posted by Coffa View Post
    ...The verb should be "was", not "is", because it must agree with "gave" (past imperfect tense).
    Why? Just because I gave the reason some time in the past, doesn't mean that the reason has now changed. To me, "The reason I gave for not coming is that I was sick." may mean like "The reason I gave for not coming was previously/used to be that I was sick.", which doesn't make sense.

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    Default Re: omitting the "that" in "the reason is that..."?

    Quote Originally Posted by dihen View Post
    Why? Just because I gave the reason some time in the past, doesn't mean that the reason has now changed. To me, "The reason I gave for not coming is that I was sick." may mean like "The reason I gave for not coming was previously/used to be that I was sick.", which doesn't make sense.
    The past imperfect tense does not imply change - it simply establishes that an event was in the past. If you want to imply change, you must use modifiers such as you have above.

    For example:
    "I gave you a ring yesterday. It was made of gold." The ring is still made of gold today.

    "I gave you my reason yesterday. It was that I was sick." That is still the reason today.

    The phrase 'was made of gold/was that I was sick' in the above examples is an adjectival subphrase modifying the object 'ring/reason' - i.e. "I gave you a <AP> ring yesterday", where <AP> is 'was made of gold'. Where such an AP includes a verb, that verb must agree in number with the object noun it is modifying, and in tense with the verb of which the noun is an object.

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    Default Re: omitting the "that" in "the reason is that..."?

    So does that mean if you say "the ring that *is* made of gold that you gave to me two years ago was stolen a week ago" is wrong, and should be "the ring that *was* made of gold that you gave to me two years ago was stolen a week ago"? :)

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    Default Re: omitting the "that" in "the reason is that..."?

    Quote Originally Posted by Passionwagon View Post
    So does that mean if you say "the ring that *is* made of gold that you gave to me two years ago was stolen a week ago" is wrong, and should be "the ring that *was* made of gold that you gave to me two years ago was stolen a week ago"? :)
    No, it doesn't. '...that is made of gold' is a defining subphrase, and so is closely coupled to its noun. '...,which is made of gold' is a non-defining subphrase, and so is a loosely-coupled AP, which must agree with the main verb. Simplifying your sentence, and putting it back in the active voice, we have:

    1) "He stole the ring that is/was (doesn't matter) made of gold a week ago."
    and
    2) "He stole a ring, which was made of gold, a week ago."
    but NOT
    "He stole a ring, which is made of gold, a week ago."

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    Default Re: omitting the "that" in "the reason is that..."?

    Thank you Coffa! You're very good at this, how did you get to be so good at grammar? Are there any books that you could recommend?

  8. #8
    dihen is offline Member
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    Default Re: omitting the "that" in "the reason is that..."?

    Quote Originally Posted by Coffa View Post
    The past imperfect tense does not imply change - it simply establishes that an event was in the past. If you want to imply change, you must use modifiers such as you have above.
    `
    For example:
    `
    "I gave you a ring yesterday. It was made of gold." The ring is still made of gold today.
    `
    "I gave you my reason yesterday. It was that I was sick." That is still the reason today.
    Would I sound foreign if I keep using the present tense there, or do native speakers also often not follow this rule?

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    dihen is offline Member
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    Default Re: omitting the "that" in "the reason is that..."?

    Quote Originally Posted by dihen View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Coffa View Post
    The past imperfect tense does not imply change - it simply establishes that an event was in the past. If you want to imply change, you must use modifiers such as you have above.
    `
    For example:
    `
    "I gave you a ring yesterday. It was made of gold." The ring is still made of gold today.
    `
    "I gave you my reason yesterday. It was that I was sick." That is still the reason today.
    Would I sound foreign if I keep using the present tense there, or do native speakers also often not follow this rule?
    Please tell me will native speakers ever use the present tense there in informal speech.

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    Default Re: omitting the "that" in "the reason is that..."?

    Quote Originally Posted by dihen View Post
    Please tell me will native speakers ever use the present tense there in informal speech.
    Hi Dihen,

    "The ring that was made of gold that you gave to me two years ago."

    Would that sentence be used by native speakers? My problem here is that in native speech that sentence would almost certainly be "The gold ring that you gave me two years ago."

    In other words, a native speaker simply wouldn't involve themselves in whether to use present or past tense - they wouldn't use that construction at all.

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