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I've recently become aware that I use the word "that" way too much, especially in more academic writing. I've noted in particular that I use "that" almost exclusively after words like "implies" (I've found that they usually require the usage of "that").

I guess it's pretty apparent by now that I have a problem with this word. Unlike standard single-word-requests that have a particular description the word needs to satisfy, I'm just looking for a word that functions like "that" (or a combination of words that can replace "that"). Having said that, did I give anyone cancer?

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    Function words seldom have synonyms. For example, there is no synonym for this one, let alone of that one. If you find you’re using something too much which could just be left out, then do so. But if it’s one which really needs a replacement rather than mere omission, you know where to find it. – tchrist Aug 26 '13 at 3:48
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    Out of curiosity, how did you decide that you were overusing the word that? – Jim Aug 26 '13 at 4:11
  • @Jim It just occurred to me that my writing was essentially giving my teachers cancer. That, and the fact that when I run stats on my writing, the program always indicates that "that" is the one word that I use that appears at least twice a sentence, other than articles, or other common words that need to appear everywhere. – Snakes and Coffee Aug 26 '13 at 10:19
  • Good question. Let's see what people have to suggest. – Kris Aug 27 '13 at 6:29
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You could drop "that" after "implies": "The weight of data thus far implies the result described....."

"... become aware that I use ...": Here, the "that" is appropriate - even if you wrote "become aware of the fact that ...." It seems to be a conjunction here.

As an exercise, look up the definitions of "that" (the OED would be a good place to start - I suspect there are at least three pages for the word).

  • This was my first thought as well. I'm not sure why the O.P. claims [that] using the word imply will "usually require the usage of 'that'." – J.R. Aug 29 '13 at 9:13
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Your post without "that" as you wanted to avoid:

I've recently became aware of my overuse of "that", especially in more academic writing. In particular, I've noticed my use of "that" almost exclusively after words like "implies". (I've found the usual requirement for the use of "that".)

I guess my problem with this word is pretty apparent by now. Unlike standard single-word-requests having a particular description of the word needing to be satisfied, I'm just looking for a word like "that" I may use instead (or a combination of words I may substitute for "that"). Having said that*, did I give anyone cancer?

*you can keep this "that" here.

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    This answer quite elegantly shows how avoiding ‘that’ is not always the better option. The original question reads much better than this answer, which is clunky, especially in the first paragraph. In the last line, you could also change it to, “Having said this”. Incidentally, it is possible to word your sentences in such a way as to avoid the offending word without ending up with unwieldy and unnatural sentences, but it is rather an exercise in futility: nobody is likely to notice its absence, just as nobody is likely to notice its presence in natural language. [tbc] – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 26 '13 at 6:56
  • [cont’d] – To wit, when I first read your post—even with this particular topic foremost in my mind—I did not even notice a single non-quoted use of the word. Since every instance of it was natural and part of well-formed sentences, and since there was no extreme overabundance of the word, it did not register at all. (Note how these two comments have only contained the word once—in quotes) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 26 '13 at 6:59
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Here is the that-less equivalent of your question, except for when it is quoted,

I've recently become aware of the frequency where my use of the word "that" has been way too much, especially in academic writing. I've noted particular cases where I use "that" almost exclusively after words like "implies" (Within my encounters, such situations usually require the usage of "that").

I guess my having a problem with this word is apparent by now. Unlike standard single-word-requests having a particular description which the word needs to satisfy, I'm just looking for a word which would function like "that" (or a combination of words which could be used to replace "that"). Having expressed my requirements, did I give anyone cancer?

Alternatively, in clearer language ...

I've recently become aware of the extreme frequency with which I use the word "that", especially in academic writing. I've noted the peculiarity where I use "that" almost exclusively after words like "implies" (As far as I am aware, such phrases usually require the use of "that").

I guess I do have a problem with this word. Unlike standard single-word-requests specifying a particular description which the word needs to satisfy, I'm simply looking for a word which would function like "that" (or a combination of words which could be used to replace "that"). Having expressed my requirements, have I given anyone cancer yet?

Explanation

That could have these uses

  • pronoun
  • adjective/adverb
  • conjunction

Pronoun abuse

In US English (as well as in pidgin, creole and certain British vernacular styles), there seems to be an annoying replacing of which/who with that. There, you already have the simplest case solved.

Use

I met the girl who robbed me at the coffee shop.
This is the house which I wish to purchase.
He is the man whom I wish to marry.

not

I met the girl that robbed me at the coffee shop.
This is the house that I wish to purchase.
He is the man that I wish to marry.

Adjectival/adverbial use

You could rephrase

The car insurance was that expensive ...

as

The car insurance was of such expense ...

However, I don't think you should avoid adjectival/adverbial use of that.

Conjunctive use

Insurance for the car was of such expense that I had decided not to buy the car.

vs

Insurance for the car was of such expense, due to which I had decided not to buy the car.

vs

Insurance for the car was of very expensive and therefore, I had decided not to buy the car.

vs

Due to the expensiveness of its insurance, I had decided not to buy the car.

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    -1. I don’t see why using ‘that’ instead of ‘which/who’ should be an “annoying replacing”. ‘That’ has been used in this manner for a millennium, and it is an integral and very basic part of the English language. “This is the house which I wish to purchase” and “He is the man whom I wish to marry” both sound incredibly pompous and archaic to me; they would both be much more naturally phrased with no relative pronoun at all: “This is the house I wish to buy” and “He is the man I want to marry”. Your second and third car insurance examples are quite ungrammatical to me. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 26 '13 at 8:58

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