BizWritingTip reader: “When we write ‘He advised that…,’ or ‘he reiterated that…,’ or ‘he noted that…,’ can the ‘that’ be left out?”
BizWritingTip response: Several people have asked this question. There is a tendency today to remove “that” whenever possible from your writing. It sounds smoother.
I recommend that you attend the meeting.
I recommend you attend the meeting (better).
However, there are some circumstances when you must use it.
1. When the words following “that” could be misunderstood
Examples Poor: I heard your proposal is going to be discussed at our next meeting. (This could be misinterpreted as “I heard your proposal.”)
Better: I heard that your proposal is going to be discussed at our next meeting.
2. When “that” introduces two or more parallel clauses
Poor: The manager said he had read all the proposals, and he would announce the winner tomorrow.
Better: The manager said that he had read all the proposals, and that he would announce the winner tomorrow.
3. When interrupting words are inserted between the introductory thought and the main thought
Poor: We believe if they are fit everyone should sign up for the charity walk. Better: We believe that if they are fit everyone should sign up for the charity walk.
Note: You can definitely omit “that” when writing sentences starting with expressions involving saying, thinking, feeling or knowing.
We know the presentation will be well received.
They feel they deserve more money.
He said the project will be two weeks late.
With regard to the earlier BizWritingTip reader’s question, my answer has to be “I don’t know.” I need the rest of the sentence to determine the correct answer.
A guideline: Read the sentence aloud. If it sounds better without “that,” delete it. If you are in doubt, leave it in.