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Consider the following use case:

  • Please check the username and password are correct.
  • Please check that the username and password are correct.

In this case, I would say that that is required because it feels more natural to me and so the flow is better. However, is the lack of that wrong in this case?

The question boils down to: when is that optional? See here. A quick summary:

  • That is optional if the pronoun is the object.
  • That is required if the pronoun is the subject.

I think that we fall into the second case: that is required because the relative pronoun is the subject. But I'm not sure if I'm interpreting these rules correctly. Can someone please advise?

  • 1
    This is a totally different that (Check that/zero complementiser Peter is here) (que in French) from the one in the linked thread (The house that/which/zero relative pronoun Jack built) (lequel etc in French). – Edwin Ashworth Aug 4 '14 at 19:36
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    There is no relative pronoun in your (first) two examples. You probably ought to remove that "relative-pronouns" tag. – F.E. Aug 5 '14 at 2:39
  • The answer on the linked question actually answers this: "English only allows you to omit that when it has been moved from the object position of the embedded clause." Here, what you are checking is {the username and password are correct}. That's the object of check, and that can be omitted. – Andrew Leach Aug 5 '14 at 11:27
  • @AndrewLeach I don't quite understand the statement moved from the object position of the embedded clause. If I check something for validity, aren't I checking that it is valid? – Pooven Aug 5 '14 at 19:14
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From what I've read online regarding this, the easiest thing for me to determine when to use "that" is to use it if everything after "that" can be used as a complete sentence.

Please check that the light is off.

"The light is off." is a complete sentence. "that" is needed.

Please check the light.

"The light" is not a sentence. Don't use "that".

Please check that your username and password are correct.

"Your username and password are correct." is a complete sentence. "that" is needed.

Please check your username and password.

"Your username and password" is a fragment. "that" is not needed.

  • In that way I could have please check and the password and username are correct as separate parts. Since the password and user name are correct can stand alone, that isn't required? Or do you mean that since that isn't a conjunction (of sorts) in this case, that is required? – Pooven Aug 5 '14 at 19:16
  • I updated my answer to clarify, I hope. Ignoring my statement about conjunctions. – SrJoven Aug 5 '14 at 19:22
  • Counterexample: "I think that you're wrong". "You're wrong" is a complete sentence, but "that" is optional. – Junuxx Jun 13 '17 at 14:17
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You are correct in the desire to use that in your sentence.

A great way to tell if your sentence is correct is to dissect it and see how it sounds. This is a huge help in forming sentences that may sound strange, but are correct.

For example, if we take your sentence and split it into two, we can better see how it is structured.

"Please check the username and password are correct."

Please check what?

  • The username is correct.
  • The password is correct.

"Please check that the username and password are correct."

Please check what?

  • That the username is correct.
  • That the password is correct.

When splitting the first sentence, the structure changes from the command of "Please check its correctness." to "It is correct." (Can't think of a cleaner explanation here)


Here is another example in a different light in case that didn't help clarify some:

"She and I buy groceries."

Who buys groceries?

  • "She buys groceries."
  • "I buy groceries."

"Her and I buy groceries."

Who buys groceries?

  • "Her buys groceries." (This is why Her and I don't work)
  • "I buy groceries."

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