Can I use "that" 2 times in a sentence next to itself?

  • 3
    I can't see that that is a problem. – Hot Licks Mar 1 '16 at 19:04
  • 2
    @HotLicks is right, I can't see that that that is a problem. That that that that in his sentence is clear and unambiguous should demonstrates that that that is a perfectly legitimate usage in English. – Dan Bron Mar 1 '16 at 19:08
  • That that that refers to in the above sentences is "that". – Hot Licks Mar 1 '16 at 19:09
  • @HotLicks Hmm, I'm not sure That that is is that that is not is not is that it it is. – Dan Bron Mar 1 '16 at 19:11
  • I would say that that "that" that that question brings up made me think things through. If this last sentence is grammatically correct, then perhaps five in a row can be correct usage. – user163210 Mar 1 '16 at 21:28

Yes, the words "that that" can appear in a grammatically correct sentence. The first "that" is a relative pronoun (typically used to clarify something), and the second "that" is a demonstrative pronoun (specifying the subject matter at hand).

For example: "Are you looking for these parts for your vacuum? I found the ones that that machine uses."


Technically, you can use that infinite times in a row and make a proper sentence.

Here is an example:

That that that that that used was correct.

  • The first that is specifying which that you are referring to.
  • The second that is the object in which you are refereeing to.
  • The third that is introducing a subordinate clause expressing a statement or hypothesis.
  • The finale that that follows the first two bullet points.

Think of it as an abstracted version of the following sentence:

The wrench that the plumber used was correct.

  • The wrench is the first that that.
  • The plumber is the second that that.

This string can actually be repeated infinitely, with punctuation, and still make a proper sentence.

  • I think the second instance of 'that' should be italicized or put within quotations to indicate that something meta-linguistic is happening. – GoldenGremlin Mar 1 '16 at 20:36

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