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This sentence is correct:

I am more certain that he is healthy than that he is wealthy.

But is it still correct with both instances of the word that removed?

I am more certain he is healthy than he is wealthy.

For some reason, the latter sentence doesn't seem as correct to me as the former one.

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    You've just reduced the relative clauses, which is fine.
    – deadrat
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 1:50
  • I'm not sure why @deadrat calls them relative clauses; they are actually 'content' clauses (aka that clauses). It is a tad clumsy with two "thats". Personally, I'd keep the first "that" and ditch the second one. You could just say "I am more certain that he is healthy than wealthy". Incidentally, some people say that omitting "that" is more informal; I'd agree with that.
    – BillJ
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 7:09
  • if you say something, and the person you're talking to understands you, then you do not a notion of "correctness". It may be more "prestigious" to use "that" in your example, but that had nothing to do with linguistic "correctness". If you want to be more formal you could claim that omitting "that" is the result of elision. But if you don't say "that", there is no reason to think there was ever a "that" to be elided. so both formulations are perfectly normal (i.e. well-attested in actual speech), but the former might receive more approval in some social groups.
    – user175542
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 19:34

1 Answer 1

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Adjective clauses are generally introduced by relative pronouns. The relative pronouns are who, whom, whose, which, and that. They are called relative because they relate the adjective clause to the word that the clause modifies. Besides introducing the adjective clause, the relative pronoun has a function in the clause.--Warriner's. 127.

The relative pronoun can introduce the clause and be its subject, or act as a direct object, and so forth. However, there are times when the relative pronoun serves no other purpose in the dependent clause but to introduce it. Each adjective clause has a subject and a verb and adjective (called a predicate adjective).

I am more certain that he is healthy than that he is wealthy.

So, in this instance the relative pronoun that functions as a pronoun but serves no other purpose in the dependent clause but to introduce the clause; thus, it can be omitted, which is often the case. When left out of the sentence, it is understood. So both versions are correct.

John E. Warriner. Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition. Third Course. Liberty Edition. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt, Brace, and Jovanovich. 1986.

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    I don't understand why you talk of 'relative pronoun'. The "that" in the OP's example is not a relative pronoun, but a subordinator introducing a content clause, not a relative one.
    – BillJ
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 7:04
  • While I appreciate the sources, they simply don't seem to apply to the OP's problem.
    – Helmar
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 9:35

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