Word Choice – That

BizWritingTip reader: “I feel the word ‘that’ is used much too often and, in many cases, is not required at all. What is the rule pertaining to using the word ‘that’ ”?

BizWritingTip response: That is a great question! “That” is used when the information following is essential to the meaning.

Examples
Here is the information that you requested.
Their idea is something that I would like to work on.
I recommend that you attend the meeting.

Note: Don’t place a comma in front of “that.” (Always place a comma in front of “which.”)

However, some editors believe a sentence will be smoother if you remove “that” when it is not needed.

Examples
Here is the information you requested.
Their idea is something I would like to work on.
I recommend you attend the meeting.

Personally, I delete ”that” whenever I can. It is usually just fluff. And many of us have gotten into the habit of using it while trying to pad school essays.

If you are uncertain as to whether to include it, I suggest you read the sentence to yourself. If it sounds better with the word omitted, remove it. If you need it for rhythm or clarity, let it remain.

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