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I am having a hard time figuring when to use "that is". For example, for the definition of "interjection", which is correct?

  • A word or phrase that is used to express emotion or surprise

  • A word or phrase used to express emotion or surprise

Do they mean the same thing? Is "that is" extraneous in this case?

Another example, for "premise":

  • Statements that are made to justify or induce a conclusion

  • Statements made to justify or induce a conclusion

Again, the same or different?

thanks!

  • Ordinary speech/writing drops 'that is/are' unless an ambiguity results. – Dan Jan 9 '16 at 23:01
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Notice that you can also say

  • A word or phrase which is used to express emotion or surprise

Which, who, and that are relative pronouns, which means that they introduce relative clauses. Relative clauses modify nouns; they can and often do have non-verbal predicates, with auxiliary be:

  • the man who is asleep in the chair
  • a car which was driven off a cliff
  • some hummus that was sitting on the table

That kind of structure is where one finds Whiz-Deletion, which deletes the subject and the be verb,
producing noun phrases like

  • the man asleep in the chair
  • a car driven off a cliff
  • some hummus sitting on the table
  • 1
    Ahhhhhhhhhh. Whiz-deletion is what I was after. Thanks! – zingbats Jan 10 '16 at 2:43
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Both are correct:

  • A word or phrase that is used to express emotion or surprise...
  • A word or phrase used to express emotion or surprise...

The latter (used) means the same thing as the former (that is used). However, the the construction of the former can at times mean something slightly different than the latter, but no difference appears in either of the contexts you provided.

Incidentally, "that is used to express emotion or surprise" is a restrictive subordinate clause, but "used to express emotion or surprise" is not. In this context, "used" is a past participle, not the past tense of "to use." The participle can be used as part of an adjective phrase generally put after the noun it qualifies, e.g., "The boy stood at the gate is John."

Read more at:

http://www.englishpractice.com/grammar/participle/#sMLA2LA0slgbmP1y.99

  • You edited your answer while I was reading it, yet you overlooked the the duplication. – Stephan Bijzitter Jan 10 '16 at 0:07
  • So, with "that is used", I have a demonstrative adjective, linking verb, paste tense main verb (?) While, in the second example, "used" is a past particle, and the remainder constitutes an adjective phrase (?) I did read your participle page. And it says that only the present participle can functions as part of an adjective phrase. "The present participle can be used as part of an adjective phrase generally put after the noun it qualifies." But that same quality is not listed for past participles – zingbats Jan 10 '16 at 2:02
  • But probably an accidental omission from the author of the page – zingbats Jan 10 '16 at 2:35
  • Oops and I made a mistake in calling "that" a demonstrative adjective. It is actually a relative pronoun – zingbats Jan 10 '16 at 2:47
  • @zingbats : "So, with 'that is used', I have a relative pronoun, linking verb, paste tense main verb?" -- Yes, that's right. – Benjamin Harman Jan 10 '16 at 5:37

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