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“That” 5 ways we use this word

ways we use that

“That” 5 ways we use this word

That – sometimes this word confuses people, hell, occasionally even we let that get the better of us, so, let’s put an end to “that” misery and learn the 5 ways we use that!

Here are the 5 ways we use that in English.

“That” as a Pronoun 

So, pronouns are those wee words that replace or substitute nouns. “That” as a pronoun is used for referring to a person or thing that is not very near to the speaker.

  • Do you like that?
  • Yes, I quite like that. 

Here, that = pronoun, and “that”, in both these phrases, refers to “the thing you like”. So, “that” could be anything, an apple, a car, a sensation or anything really.

The job of pronouns is to replace nouns. Therefore, “that”, as a pronoun, replaces the nouns in these two phrases. 

“That” as a Relative Pronoun 

We can use “that” as a relative pronoun to introduce something which refers to either a person or thing you are talking about. 

  • My workmate knows someone that can help you. 
  • We have a computer that you can have. 

In the first sentence, the relative pronoun “that” is used for referring to a person, “someone”, whereas, in the second sentence, we use “that” to refer to a thing, “computer”.

Therefore, we can use “that” as a relative pronoun to refer to a person, in this case, “someone” and a thing, in this case, “computer”.

Take note, it’s important not to use another pronoun after “that”, like this: 

  • My workmate knows someone that they can help you = X. 
  • We have a computer that it you can have = X.

Whatever you do, don’t put another pronoun after “that” in these cases, because “that” already is a pronoun here, a relative pronoun, that is. So, “that” does not need any more pronouns to go after it. 

This use case of “that” acting as a Relative Pronoun is very common! 

“That” as a Demonstrative Adjective

In English, demonstrative adjectives are this, these, that and those. We use

  • “This” and “that” = for singular nouns, and we use
  • “These” and “those” = for plural nouns.

The difference between this and that, and these and those (all of which are demonstrative adjectives) is about distance, that is, how far away the thing you’re talking about is from the speaker.

For instance, 

  • I saw that train station. 
  • Can you tell me about that problem? 

So, in these cases, the “train station” and the “problem” are considered far away from the speaker.

On the contrary, if “train station” and the “problem” were closer to the speaker, then, the speaker should say: 

  • I saw this train station. 
  • Can you tell me about this problem? 

See what we mean?

Also, as “that” is a demonstrative adjective, this means, “that” modifies or describes nouns, because the job of adjectives is to describe nouns.

In this case, the nouns being described by “that” are “train station” and “problem”.

“That” as a conjunction

Conjunctions are words that connect other words or phrases. For example, 

  • David and Maria are nice. 

Here, the conjunction “and” connects the two nouns “David” with “Maria”. So, “that” can also function the same way, because “that”  also functions as a conjunction. However, in most cases, this use is optional, and you will not need to use “that”.

Let’s take a quick peek: 

  • We said (that) you should go to the city centre. 

Or,

  • We said you should go to the city centre. 
  • They suggested (that) we take the motorway. 

Or, 

  • They suggested we take the motorway. 

So, normally, you do not have to use “that” when it functions as a conjunction. That being said, sometimes, people confuse “that” (as a conjunction) with a relative pronoun when it’s actually being used as a conjunction, and that’s why they wonder why you can put a pronoun after “that”, such as:

  • Mary explained (that) we should go there. 

Vs. 

  • Mary liked the store that sold her some apples. 

In the first sentence, “that” is used as a conjunction, so you can use the pronoun “we” afterwards, but in the second sentence, ”that” = relative pronoun, so, you cannot use a pronoun afterwards.

Such would be incorrect, for example, 

  • Mary liked the store that they sold her some apples = INCORRECT.

Just wanted to be clear about that!

“That” as an adverb

Adverbs are those words which, a lot of the times, end in –ly, such as normally, hardly etc. and which modify verbs, adjectives or other adverbs. 

So, we use “that” as an adverb to describe the extent or degree to which something happens.

For instance, 

  • Are you really that good at programming? 
  • Our team have not been that impressed. 

In the first sentence, “that” is modifying the adjective “good”, meaning, “to what extent are you good at programming?”.

Whereas, in the second sentence, “that” modifies the verb in the past form “impressed”, with the meaning of “to such a degree”, “so” or “the degree to which our team have been impressed”.

A good trick to know when “that” = an adverb is if “that” can be replaced by the phrase “to such a degree” or “so” and still have the same meaning.

For example, 

  • Harry is that amazing = Harry is to such a degree amazing. 
  • I don’t think you are that punctual = I don’t think you are so punctual. 

This concludes our lesson for today, happy learning and please like and subscribe!