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Tom believes that that tree bears fruit. What is it called when two "that's" are used in a row when only one is needed?

marked as duplicate by tchrist, Janus Bahs Jacquet, Dan Bron, Mitch, RegDwigнt Sep 28 '15 at 11:51

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    I question your premise that "only one is needed". The pattern is Tom (believes that) (that tree [i.e the one over there, that one]) (bears fruit). – Dan Bron Sep 26 '15 at 13:09
  • @Dan The relativiser that is nearly always omissible when it’s not the subject, though, so in the example given, only one of them (the demonstrative determiner) really is needed. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 26 '15 at 13:36
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    Yeah, but looking at it as a problem of using two where only one is needed is the wrong way. If you look at constituents (the [bracketed parts] in Dan's comment above), you see that one segment ends with that, and the next segment begins with that. The two words simply occur next to each other; pure coincidence. If that bothers anybody, they can delete the deletable one -- but it shouldn't bother most people. – John Lawler Sep 26 '15 at 13:50
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    I didn't mean to say that your baby is the problem; I meant to say that that conception is the problem. – Brian Hitchcock Sep 27 '15 at 6:47
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Tom believes that that tree bears fruit. What is it called when two thats are used in a row when only one is needed?

It is normal grammar. The first that is a conjunction introducing a subordinate clause. The second that is a determiner referring to a specific tree.

Compare

Tom believes that that tree bears fruit.

with

Tom believes that this tree bears fruit.

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