Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: that (3).

that (3). Today: Wrongly Suppressed “that.” As a relative pronoun or conjunction, “that” can be suppressed in any number of constructions (e.g., “The dog you gave me” rather than “The dog that you gave me”). But in formal writing “that” is often ill-advisedly omitted. In particular, the conjunction “that” should usually be retained to introduce clauses following verbs such as “acknowledge,” “ask,” “believe,” “claim,” “doubt,” and “said,” because without the conjunction what follows might be taken to be a noun complement. Dropping “that” after the verb can create a miscue, even if only momentarily– e.g.: “Son acknowledges being a member of a discriminated minority — his grandfather emigrated from the Korean Peninsula to work in the coal mines — may have helped him turn his eyes abroad early.” Yuri Kageyama, “Softbank President Credited with Making Company an Industry Leader,” L.A. Times, 21 June 1996, at D7. (Insert “that” after “acknowledges.”) The writers who ill-advisedly omit “that” seem deaf to their ambiguities and miscues. When one instance occurs in a piece of writing, more are sure to follow. The following examples come from one article — which contains six more errors of the same variety: o “But the state charged the lease deal [read ‘charged that the lease deal’], signed in 1991, sprang from a web of fraud and deceit.” P.L. Wyckoff, “State Pays While Bankruptcy Delays Lease Suit,” Sunday Star-Ledger (Newark), 11 Aug. 1996, § 1, at 25, 32. o “During more than a year of negotiations and bureaucratic processing, the Karcher group claimed the property [read ‘claimed that the property’] was worth $2 million when it really was only worth $850,000, the state said.” Ibid. Next: Final Problems. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “As Aristotle pointed out long ago, most people do not have the patience or intelligence to follow a logical argument very closely. Most people will be persuaded neither by reason nor by emotion, but by the ‘ethos’ — the character — of the author.” James C. Raymond, Writing (Is an Unnatural Act) 60 (1980).
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