Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Possible Duplicate:
Use of “that” in a sentence

English-newbie-here! =D

Well, let me present you with a situation where I ended up using both choices actually:

She said that they won't come.

and

She said they won't come.

Well? Both sound fine for me, but I can't really tell... I believe there are other situations where the usage of "that" is questionable...

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt, kiamlaluno, nohat Feb 19 '11 at 0:04

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
Possible duplicate of Use of "that" in a sentence and When is "that" superfluous?. –  RegDwigнt Feb 18 '11 at 21:53

2 Answers 2

They are both correct, but the meaning is subtly different. In the first sentence, the speaker is indicated that "she" has indicated in some way that they won't come. In the second sentence, the speaker is indicating that "she" said something close to the specific words "they won't come".

I say "something close" because the margin of error for that indication generally includes personal pronouns, e.g., when I say

She said they won't come

What I really mean is

She said "we won't come"

The usage of "that" indicates that you're about to paraphrase the message, while its absence indicates that you're sticking more closely to the precise words.

share|improve this answer
    
Chris -- I'm not sure that's necessarily true. Without the "that" it could still be a paraphrase. –  Neil Coffey Feb 18 '11 at 22:07
    
Certainly, and I indicated that above, particularly with respect to personal pronouns. But "that" indicates specifically that it's a paraphrase; you couldn't render the sentence "She said that 'they won't come'". –  Chris B. Behrens Feb 18 '11 at 22:25
    
As far as I know (but what do I know), both phrases are synonymous. Just that "that" isn't needed and most people will omit it. –  Jürgen A. Erhard Feb 18 '11 at 22:34
    
It's possible that my experience is a regional usage as well. –  Chris B. Behrens Feb 18 '11 at 22:36
    
You should distinguish between "she said they won't come" and "she said: they won't come"; the former is indirect speech and identical in meaning to "she said that they won't come", "that" is just left out for convenience; the latter is direct speech—the second part of it could be in quotation marks. –  Cerberus Feb 19 '11 at 4:39

Both are saying the same thing. Most people find "that" superfluous, and will both omit it and recommend omitting it.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.