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    #1

    Red face is there any rule about this?

    I am currently rewriting my thesis, and i usually hold back a bit about this. to write a complex sentence using the verbs like believe, suggest, consider, argue, etc. do they need "that" following those verbs? e.g. I believe X causes Y, or i believe that X cuases Y.

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    #2

    Re: is there any rule about this?

    Quote Originally Posted by doingresearch View Post
    I am currently rewriting my thesis, and i usually hold back a bit about this. to write a complex sentence using the verbs like believe, suggest, consider, argue, etc. do they need "that" following those verbs? e.g. I believe X causes Y, or i believe that X cuases Y.
    I think the dropping of 'that' relates more to cognitive verbs and verbs of perception and speech (think, know, prove, suggest, say, notice), in other words verbs that involve a mental process (but I can't be certain so don't take that as a given). The more informal the usage, the more likely it is that 'that' will be dropped. Having said that, a person might casually say:

    'I think that she's coming to the party' (NB: if 'that' is used in casual speech in this way it is often slurred over and sounds like 'th't' - where the apostrophe is a faint schwa sound, ie the sound you hear at the end of 'butter', so you hardly discern the word)

    Whilst in a legal document, which is about as formal as it gets, you might read:

    We believe it is of utmost importance to ...

    So no, there's no hard and fast rule here. Having said that, usually 'that' is retained in dry, formal writing, less often in books and newspapers and even less often in speech. The biggest problem with 'that' is that it really adds nothing to the sense and it's overuse can drag any writing into tedium. (Maybe that's why lawyers use 'that' ad nauseam - they're hoping you'll give up in boredom and sign the agreement before you reach the clauses where you get screwed!)

    OK, let's go further:

    You can say (using 'think' as an example verb, and where A and B are subordinate clauses):

    I think A

    I think that A

    This is straightforward and for usage see above. But when you get to multiple subordinate clauses, it's not so straightforward. Do you say:

    I think A and B
    I think that A and that B
    I think A and that B
    I think that: (a) A; and (b) B

    I think A and B

    More common in informal speech, where sentences are shorter and B is unlikely to be far removed from the main ('I think') clause.

    I think that A and that B

    More common in formal writing, because, as discussed, 'that' is more widely used but also because sentences are longer here and if you don't precede B with the 'that' conjunction, there is no clear dependency on the main clause and so B might appear to be an independent main clause.

    I think A and that B

    You hear it, you read it but I think you should avoid this construction, certainly in writing. Here the writer is using 'that' before B because he wants it to be clear B is dependent on the main clause, whereas with A it is clear it's subordinate because it immediately follows the main clause. 2 problems here: there is no balance and the English language calls for balance (so 'that ... that', just we would say 'between ... and', 'either ... or'); and there is greater clarity with 'that' - we can immediately see which clauses are subordinate so we can understand the structure and so sense of the sentence.

    I think that: (a) A; and (b) B (and if A and B are very long or there's a C, D, etc. you would probably insert a paragraph break after the colon)

    A very useful structure in academic writing, legal documents, manuals, etc. especially with list-type paragraphs. It's very dry and formal but has the benefit of clarity and a single use of 'that'.


    A final point about your thesis: I know it's formal but don't insert 'that' slavishly in every possible instance, or 'that' overkill will result. Even lawyers will drop a few 'that's here and there. Also, if you get to the end of your thesis and find it's too long, do a search for 'that' - I'm sure you'll be able to delete some instances without altering the sense or making the language any less formal.

    Oh, and a final, final point: to complicate things, there are some verbs which are always, or almost always, followed by 'that', especially in formal writing. So we might write:

    I believe A

    I believe that A

    but we would write:

    I propose that A

    I advise that A

    As to which verbs regularly appear without 'that' before a subordinate clause I leave you to find out.

    So that's it. I hope I'm right in what I've written. I haven't researched the use of 'that'; I've just written the above on the basis of my long history with this word as a proofreader. Maybe there's someone out there who can add more, or clarify - or indeed correct - what I have written.

    Bertie
    Last edited by bertietheblue; 25-May-2010 at 15:12.

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    #3

    Re: is there any rule about this?

    Dear Bertie,
    Many thanks for your informative post. i stick to a formal style as i needs it currently. it means "that" is necessary.

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