This About That

“That” is one of those insidious words working itself into your writing, perhaps without you even realizing it. Consider this quote:

“A great many people think that polysyllables are a sign of intelligence.”
– Barbara Walters

Ms. Walters could have said: A great many people think polysyllables are a sign of intelligence and nothing in the meaning or intent would have been lost.

Write Anything blogger Jodi Cleghorn has a post  called That That explaining why overuse of the word that doesn’t add to your prose.

She says:

Editing is a good means to get an insight on the overuse of “that” – whether it is your own work or someone else’s. Being mindful when you write is another.

So many of you are working on your NaNoWriMo projects right now and you may not be worrying about the editing to come later. But if you’d like to make things easier on yourself December 1st, you may want to consider whether or not you need a big fat that in the middle of your sentence.

I suggest you don’t.

3 Responses

  1. That is the most interesting thing that I have read about that in a long time!
    I, for one, am guilty as charged.

    • Me too Wren. I have to go back to my drafts with my “That Zapper” (tm!) and excise any instances of “that” if they don’t make sense. In most of my cases, a surgically strike is all it takes.

      I didn’t write about it in this post, but I have another bad habit: the overuse of “had.” As in, “He had been planning for the party all along.” instead of “He planned for the party all along.” The second version with “planned” strengthens the verb, and forms a better sentence.

  2. […] There are other bad habits to avoid, and I refer you to my other post This About That for your reading pleasure. […]

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