View Full Version : Is that really necessary?
11-18-2003, 05:46 PM
Is that that important when writing a sentence? The use of that is not that important but people tend to use that whether for this reason or that reason.
If that should be used then that should be used but not if that can be excluded for that reason, ya know? ;)
I'm guilty of this peeve myself. The word "that" is generally not important when writing a sentence and can be excluded. Take for instance the sentences above.
"Is 'that' important when writing a sentence? The use of 'that' is not important but people tend to use 'that' for one reason or another."
Our minds tend to focus on repetitive words when we are reading. Once we notice the repetition we start looking for it and stop paying attention to what we are reading.
Try this little experiment the next time you are reading a paragraph or website - when you come across the word 'that' remove it from the sentence and see if it still makes sense. If it does, then the word doesn't need to be in there.
I remember reading somewhere that 'that' is the least needed word in the english language, and yet it is the most used. I wish I could remember where I read that so I could post the link. If anyone runs across it please add the info, it would be greatly appreciated!
Anyway, 'that' is my peeve. Have any of you noticed this or maybe another word that's over used, under-used or?
11-18-2003, 06:12 PM
I had not noticed this before, but now you mention it I put "that" I loads of mt sentences and it is not needed, now every time I put the word "that" in a sentence I will think of this forum!
11-20-2003, 04:24 PM
I notice overuse of particular words, and generally poor grammar, all over the web. Most producers of web site content are not professional writers, and I would bet that most have had little training in writing copy at all.
Is there a quick solution? Probably not. I would suggest having a small group of people read through your pages to point out any errors they might find. Proofreaders can also be helpful in pointing out passages that may seem unclear to them.
It has been said that the last person you want to write a manual for a piece of software is a programmer. This can be true for web designers as well. We all have knowledge of certain things which we take for granted. We often erroneously assume other people know these things too. Keep this in mind when writing, particularly with technical subjects.
If you really want a good reference for writing style, there are several available. The Chicago Manual of Style from the University of Chicago Press is one of the most popular reference works on style. It is in its 15th edition and available at most retailers. Its US$55 list price (usually heavily discounted to less than US$40) can be a bit steep for designers on a budget. One of my favorites is William Strunk's Elements of Style. Though it is a bit dated (published in 1918) it still provides good information. I have a copy of the book itself, but it is also available online (thanks to Project Bartleby) at http://coba.shsu.edu/help/strunk/.
11-21-2003, 05:40 PM
I would suggest having a small group of people read through your pages to point out any errors they might find. Proofreaders can also be helpful in pointing out passages that may seem unclear to them.
Very good point! Having 3-4 people proofread is very helpful. People love to give their opinion so finding volunteers shouldn't be difficult, and everyone has their own level of 'expertise' when it comes to grammer, etc.
I know I am the worst about run on sentences! I have learned to remove the word "that" from my writing, thankfully. Now I find it redundant in others writing. :) Another overused word is "and." I'm guilty of that one also. I like starting sentences with the word 'and' which I know you shouldn't do. :(
What other words do you think are over-used?
11-26-2003, 09:36 AM
I like starting sentences with the word 'and' which I know you shouldn't do. :(
Starting sentences with 'and' was such a no no thru college. Even now when I inadvertantly use it I can feel my knuckles being rapped. For the most part it was always replaced with "In addition....."
I nearly always find that if I eliminate any 3 letter or less words in a pararaph, I am usually left with a more grammatical sentence.
What I do find the hardest now are shortcuts ! SMS phones & the net have set some bad habits there. We try to relay as much information as we can in such a short space & tear the written language to pieces. Even now when I do my first draft I am short cutting everywhere. I do try on forums to word posts a bit better, because I know now everyone hasn't the knowledge of understanding them.
11-26-2003, 12:30 PM
One thing I learned from a copywriter friend of mine is to always read you content backwards. When we write something, we naturally read into it things that aren't really there. I will find myself reading over something and adding a word in that isn't there, but completes my thought. When I read it backwards, I find the missing words or grammatical errors and can fix most of them before they ever go up for review.
Just my four cents.
11-30-2003, 06:18 PM
I had never tried reading my text backwards, what an experience that was! Great information Ghstdrgns! It is definately helpful. Now if I could just learn to spell correctly I would be a step ahead.
The term ellipsis means the omission of words which don't necessarily hinder understanding of what was said. For example, Stop doing that. vs Stop that.
The word "that" is considered an ellipsis, it can be left out of sentences (about 90%) of the time without changing the meaning of the sentence.
We tend to repeatedly use certain words in our vocabulary without realizing it. I use the word "well" to often and "and." Reading the text backwards helped point that out to me. Thanks again Ghstdrgns. :)
12-01-2003, 09:25 AM
You are more than welcome. I am just glad I can contribute something.
12-16-2003, 09:00 PM
I'm not sure what the answer is to grammar and the web. I have found that in my years on the net I write as I speak, and sometimes my english may be a bit incorrect, but I have always tried to pay attention to the message. I never thought of starting a sentance with "and" but I bet I have. Nevertheless, with 1400 pages of html I'm not going to go out and check myself. I write a large homepage, and if you are writing a business site grammar is of the untimate importance. Is grammar important, na, the message is what is important.