Do You Really Need the Word “That”?

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The That Tip

That is one of the most overused words in writing. I would venture to say half the time you don’t need it in your writing. When we speak we use that as a filler word and it shows when we hit pencil to paper (or should I say fingers to keyboard).

Checking for an overuse of that is easy enough.

Finish writing your paper, essay, blog post or home page content and then search for the word that. Depending on the length of your content, I bet the word appears quite frequently. That is almost always used as a link between sentences, but is often unnecessary. Short and condense writing is good writing (poetry and creative writing are an exception to this).

Check out the examples below which use that unnecessarily (examples straight from content that crosses my desk):

  • When it became clear that our mother did not have a DNR, the medical staff presented me with the paperwork.
  • A specific description of each piece of property that you own is required, including real estate.
  • You also can empty your recycle or trash bin, which typically contains files or programs that you have deleted.
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