No, I’m not talking about doing your dusting before friends and family come over for the holidays; I’m talking about this one particular little word “that” 95% of the time can be eliminated from your sentences.
We just can’t help ourselves. If given the choice, most new or ‘non-editing centric’ writers will write this sentence:
I decided that spaghetti was easier to make for dinner.
… instead of that one:
I decided spaghetti was easier to make for dinner.
In this and similar instances, “that” is just dead-weight holding your sentence down. By freeing yourself of this tendency, your prose will read smoother and with greater clarity.
Keep in mind when you speak of a person, you refer to them as “who” and not “that”. Take a look:
It was Jeremy
that who drove backwards in his test. [Jeremy is a person and therefore should be referred to that way ;)]
It was the bat
who that broke on the first pitch. [The bat is an object and therefore should be referred to that way ;)]
However, when you get right down to it, both of those sample sentences could be rewritten to eliminate the word “was”:
Jeremy drove backwards in his test.
The bat broke on the first pitch.
Now, you’re all set to dive in and look for this and “that” to sweep out the cobwebs in your first drafts.
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