English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Recently, I started using just 'That' instead of 'The fact that' at the beginning of some sentences. What is your opinion on this?


  1. The fact that he answered the question wrong shows...
  2. That he answered the question wrong shows ...

What is better style? 1 or 2?

share|improve this question
This is not related to your actual question, but there actually should not be a comma in either of those two sentences. – Kosmonaut Oct 16 '10 at 4:37
@kosmonaut: Thanks. I edited the question. – Markus H Oct 16 '10 at 6:02

Personally, I like 2 better in writing, although both are possible. In spoken language, I would only use 1. One often hears "the fact that" vilified as being redundant, mostly because Strunk & White say it's never acceptable. It's true that it is often used unnecessarily to inflate a writer's style. However, it's not always inappropriate:

The police confronted him with the fact that he hadn't been where he said he was.

share|improve this answer
I don't know how you'd phrase your sample sentence without using "the fact that", barring a considerable recasting. – siride Dec 14 '10 at 15:56
@siride, that was my point. It's not always inappropriate, because any other way of writing that example sentence would be awkward. – ptomato Dec 14 '10 at 15:59
@ptomata: sorry, I misread that as "not always appropriate". – siride Dec 15 '10 at 5:13

If the "the fact" doesn't add to the sentence, remove it.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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