Students (and adults) love the relative pronoun “that ”. Although an important little word within our writing (that = the start of an essential clause), it is overused within students’ writing. “That” can often be eliminated from a sentence without any loss of meaning. Students should check their overuse of the word “that” by using their ear during the proof-reading stage of rough draft revisions. All three uses of “that” in the following bullets are superfluous.
- This is the car that I plan on buying.
- I liked the project that my group worked on for this semester.
- I realized that Joe was not a good friend.
And, yes, I overuse this little word form time to time too. Today, I looked at the Wilsonprep website (www.wilsonprep.com) I created (not “that I created”), and I realized I (not “I realized that I”) have a superfluous “that” in a heading: Studies show that students learn best when they practice daily. This “that” was just removed!