The Grammarphobia Blog

Do you really need “that”?

Q: Please tell me which of these sentences is correct?

1) I was beginning to think THAT you would never call.
2) I was beginning to think you would never call.

A: Either of them is correct. The use of “that” in such sentences is optional. It’s a matter of taste. Do whatever sounds better to your ear.

However, there are times when using “that” can make a sentence clearer. For instance, a sentence with more than one verb might be ambiguous.

Here’s an example: “I hoped you went to Texas and Stephanie did too.” This could mean either:

1) “I hoped THAT you went to Texas and THAT Stephanie did too.”
2) “I hoped THAT you went to Texas and Stephanie hoped so too.”

In some cases, adding “that” can make the sentence clearer. But when clarity isn’t involved, let your ear decide.