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    #1

    We should be sparing with the use of "that" to start a sentence?

    I am clear about the structure of "that phrase (a noun phrase)+ verb phrase": e.g. That she eats a lot but does not put on weight is a shock to me.

    But I read some grammar blogs and forums and people there say that this structure is grammatical but should be always avoided because it sounds awkward.

    I would like to hear more comments on this structure.

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: We should be sparing with the use of "that" to start a sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by kachibi View Post
    I am clear about the structure of "that phrase (a noun phrase)+ verb phrase": e.g. That she eats a lot but does not put on weight is a shock to me.

    But I read some grammar blogs and forums and people there say that this structure is grammatical but should be always avoided because it sounds awkward.

    I would like to hear more comments on this structure.
    That you should avoid it is good advice. That it could be called "over-used" if it occurs twice in an essay is true. That is sounds awkward, you can judge for yourself. That I never use it, I could not honestly say, but that I wouldn't use it twice, I can affirm. That my reply has helped you, I can only hope.

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    #3

    Re: We should be sparing with the use of "that" to start a sentence?

    May I know why people would avoid using it? What is the fundamental problem of such structure?

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: We should be sparing with the use of "that" to start a sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by kachibi View Post
    May I know why people would avoid using it? What is the fundamental problem of such structure?
    The biggest problem is the structure is awkward. It can always be replaced with a more direct version. In your sentence, for example, you could say I am shocked by her ability to eat a lot without gaining weight. There is nothing wrong with your version, but the others here have correctly cautioned you about overusing that structure. By the way, many people make it worse by expanding "that" to "the fact that" -- more useless words.

  3. FreeToyInside's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: We should be sparing with the use of "that" to start a sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    The biggest problem is the structure is awkward. It can always be replaced with a more direct version. In your sentence, for example, you could say I am shocked by her ability to eat a lot without gaining weight. There is nothing wrong with your version, but the others here have correctly cautioned you about overusing that structure. By the way, many people make it worse by expanding "that" to "the fact that" -- more useless words.
    I would agree, except the additional 'useless' words part might depend on who you ask.

    Just the fact that so many Americans enjoy being dramatic and overly emotional in their speech makes this structure more useful than a more direct version.


    (not a teacher, just a language lover)

  4. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: We should be sparing with the use of "that" to start a sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by FreeToyInside View Post
    I would agree, except the additional 'useless' words part might depend on who you ask.

    Just the fact that so many Americans enjoy being dramatic and overly emotional in their speech makes this structure more useful than a more direct version.


    (not a teacher, just a language lover)
    I admit it is one of my pet peeves.

  5. BobK's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: We should be sparing with the use of "that" to start a sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by kachibi View Post
    May I know why people would avoid using it? What is the fundamental problem of such structure?
    I thinl the main problem with starting a sentence with 'That' is that it puts a big strain on the reader/listener.
    • That is why I never go. [Demonstrative pronoun]
    • That one, please. [Demonstrative adjective]
    • That I leave behind me a trail of three-legged donkeys is well known. [Subordinating conjunction]

    If the first word you say/write is 'That', there's no way of guessing what semantic role it's playing. The reader/listener has to put the word into their short-term memory and hope it'll still be there when there's enough context to work out what it's doing!

    b

  6. BobK's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: We should be sparing with the use of "that" to start a sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by kachibi View Post
    May I know why people would avoid using it? What is the fundamental problem of such structure?
    I thinl the main problem with starting a sentence with 'That' is that it puts a big strain on the reader/listener.

    • That is why I never go. [Demonstrative pronoun]
    • That one, please. [Demonstrative adjective]
    • That I leave behind me a trail of three-legged donkeys is well known. [Subordinating conjunction]

    If the first word you say/write is 'That', there's no way of guessing what semantic role it's playing. The reader/listener has to put the word into their short-term memory and hope it'll still be there when there's enough context to work out what it's doing!

    b

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