That

In this lesson, we will learn more about 'that,' which is a demonstrative pronoun that can replace a noun and become the subject or the object of a sentence.

The Pronoun "That" in the English Grammar

That is one of the commonly used words in English. That is singular and is used for people or things. In this lesson, we will discuss when and how to use it.

1. 'That' as a Demonstrative Determiner

Use

That as a demonstrative determiner is used to show a far person/thing or a previously-mentioned thing or person. That is also introductory and can be used in combinations. It has other functions as well. Take a look:

  • That shows a person or a thing that is not near the speaker. Like:

I saw that car yesterday. It is Jacob's.

'That car' is the object.

That car over there is mine.

'That car' is the subject.

  • That is used to mention something or someone that has already been stated. Like:

There is a boy in our neighborhood. I hate that annoying boy.

'That annoying boy' refers to 'a boy.'

I should study harder. That idea would help me with my career.

'That idea' refers to 'I should study harder.'

  • That shows something or someone that you want to give more information about. Look at this example:

That person who knows computing, should come here.

'That person' is selected among a group of people.

I want that book. The one with a green cover.

  • That is used in the combination with periods of time meaning ' during a specific time in the past.' Like:

He was my best friend at that time.

That morning, I was so angry.

  • That is used to mention something or someone that is familiar or understood to the interlocutor. For example:

Did you read that book I had sent you?

That movie again? C'mon!

Position in a Sentence

That as a demonstrative pronoun is used before nouns or noun phrases. For example:

I saw that car yesterday. It is Jacob's.

'Car' is a noun.

That beautiful baby is mine.

'Beautiful baby' is a noun phrase.

2. 'That' as a Demonstrative Pronoun

That as a demonstrative pronoun can be the subject or the object of a sentence.

Use

That as a demonstrative pronoun is mainly used to refer to a far thing or person. To learn more functions of that, have a look:

  • That is used to refer to a person or a thing that is not near the speaker, such as:

That is her ring.

Here, 'that' means that the ring is not near the speaker.

I love that.

'That' is the object.

  • That is used to refer to something or someone that has already been mentioned. For example:

A : I like my friend's book.

B : Is that the reason you want to buy the same book?

  • That is used in combinations like 'that of' and 'that which' to give more information about something or someone that is previously mentioned. This use is more common in formal English. For example:

My research interest aligns with that of yours.

His look was that of a young baby.

  • That is used in conversations. It is used in responses or reactions to what other people have just said. For example:

A : I think you should go to the doctor.

B : That's true.

Another example shows a reaction to something mentioned before:

A : I yelled at him.

B : That's a shame!

  • That is used to introduce, identify or give more information about someone. For example:

That's my boy, Alex.

Is that you, honey?

This sentence is used on the phone.

Position in a Sentence

That as a demonstrative pronoun replaces a noun and becomes the subject or the object of a sentence. For example:

I like this film. That seems to be informative.

'That' is a subject and replaces the noun phrase 'this film.'

A : I love that book.

B : I love that, too.

3. 'That' as a Relative Pronoun

Use

That as a relative pronoun is used to introduce an adjective clause that acts as an adjective for the preceding noun or noun phrase. That as a relative pronoun can be used for things or people. For example:

They bought a new house that looks expensive.

'That looks expensive' is an adjective for 'a new house.'

This is the man that you were talking to.

'That you were talking to' is an adjective for 'the man.'

Position in a Sentence

That as a relative pronoun is used after the noun or noun phrase it describes. For example:

This is the man that you were talking to.

'That' is used after 'the man.'

Tip

That as a relative pronoun can be omitted in spoken and informal written English. We can omit that when it is the object of a clause, but we cannot omit it when it is the subject of a relative clause. Take a look at the following examples:

I know the man that is over there.

'That' cannot be left out because it is the subject of the relative clause.

I know the man that you were looking for.

'That' can be left out because it is the object of the relative clause.

4. 'That' as a Nominal Relative Pronoun

Use

That as a nominal relative pronoun connects the dependent clause to the independent clause. The dependent clause is called 'the nominal relative clause' because it acts as an object for the independent clause. For example:

I know that you like to study harder.

'That you like...' is the object of 'I know.'

Do you wonder that I love you?

Position in a Sentence

That as a nominal relative pronoun always comes at the beginning of the independent clause. For example:

I know that you were looking for me.

'That' introduces a nominal relative clause.

5. 'That' as an Adverb of Degree

Use

That can be the adverb and precedes an adjective or another adverb. We can use 'that' as a moderator that is an adverb that is neither an intensifier nor a mitigator.

  • That as an adverb in 'not (all) that' means 'not very.' Such as:

English is not that difficult.

Her clothes are not all that beautiful.

  • That is used to emphasize the degree of a feeling or a quality. For example:

Do you miss her that much?

I think he is that stupid.

'That stupid' means 'very stupid.'

  • That is used to show the size of something. In this case, people normally use hand gesture. For example:

The book was that big.

Position in a Sentence

That as an adverb is used before other adjectives or adverbs. For example:

This book is that big.

The baby runs that fast.

'That' is before the adverb 'fast.'

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