There’s a common word in the English language that can very often be dropped from a sentence without causing any disruption to the natural flow of the piece, or causing it to lose meaning. The word is “that.”

Try it and see for yourself with your own writing. It not only tightens up the writing and makes it neater, it also makes it less clumsy and more professional.

Here’s an example of what I mean: “He said that he would return the next day.” This sentence can have the “that” dropped and still make perfect sense: “He said he would return the next day.”

Of course, there is a place for the “that.” You can’t just remove them all from your writing as it will change the sense of some bits. The best advice is to notice every time you use “that” and try writing the sentence without it. If it still makes sense, and most of the time it will, then leave it out. If it doesn’t make sense, then leave it in.

It isn’t just for the sake of being tidy either. The “that” often (usually) creates a sharp interference in a sentence. It just doesn’t run as smoothly when there’s a “that” in it. Take this example: “He was so tired that he almost fell asleep at the dinner table.” Try it without the “that” and see how it flows much better: “He was so tired he almost fell asleep at the dinner table.”

See what I mean?

The removal of all the unnecessary instances of “that” actually streamlines a sentence. However, as mentioned before, don’t just dump the “that” and assume it’s all right. Read the edited sentence after removing the “that” and if it doesn’t make sense, put it back in.

Did you notice “that” being used in the first sentence of this post? This is how it read: “There’s a common word in the English language that can very often be dropped from a sentence…” If you drop the “that” in this case it doesn’t make sense: “There’s a common word in the English language can very often be dropped from a sentence…” That is an example of where the “that” should not be removed. The first word in the last sentence is another example, incidentally.

There is a place for “that,” just not as many places as most of us think there are. And that’s that!

If you want to be sure (that) the writing on your website flows easily and reads well, I can help.