Overuse of “THAT” within Student Writing

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!

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