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I have a question about the following sentence:

I think that I know what kind of person I am.

Does it make sense, still have the same meaning and is it gramatically correct if I say:

I think that I know what kind of person that I am.

To me it sounds kind of weird, but somehow I think it could still make sense even if it is a bit unusual to use it in that form.

'The kind of person that I am' works. Could you put it like in the example above?

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    Hello, Harmless. No. Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 11:39

2 Answers 2

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I think I know what kind of person I am.

The sentence above has an interrogative clause functioning as the complement of the verb know. The interrogative clause is:

  • what kind of person I am

This clause has a gap in it. The gap is understood as being co-referential with the interrogative phrase. The interrogative phrase here is the string what kind of person. So we could model the interrogative clause like this:

  • What kind of personi [I am _________i]
  • what kind of person [I am what kind of person]

Notice that what kind of person functions semantically as the complement of the verb am.

This is very different from the following sentence:

  • He chided me for being the kind of person that I am.

Here the relative clause that I am is modifying the noun phrase the kind of person. The reason for our using the word that here, is that it is introducing a relative clause.

Because the string I am in the Original Poster's sentence is part of an interrogative clause and is not a relative clause in its own right, there is no possibility of using the word that before the string I am. The following sentence is ungrammatical:

  • *I think I know what kind of person that I am. (ungrammatical)
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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 2:22
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I like economy, unless there is a good reason not to employ it.

I think that I know what kind of person I am.

probably does not need a second "that". In fact:

I think I know what kind of person I am.

is probably sufficient.

I think that I know what kind of person that I am.

is surely too many "thats".
In a statement this short there would be no good reason to refer to what is being say as if it might be lost in some intervening phrase. The only time that using a "that" here might be appropriate is if there were a pause after "I think" :

I think — that I know what kind of person I am.

And this would generally be useful only in reporting what somebody has said.
I would simply use:

I think I know what kind of person I am.

It is clear and concise.

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    “I think that I know what kind of person that I am. is surely too many "thats".“ I see that the first one is not necessary, but it still makes sense. What about the second one? Let's pretend we need a certain number of syllables: would it, hypothetically, make still sense? I didn't quite get that yet.
    – user192211
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 12:35
  • In poetry, yes.., @Harmless Psycho.
    – J. Taylor
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 13:23
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    @Harmless Psycho, there would be no reason in ordinary writing to burden such a short sentence with a "that" which will not help understanding, and, might create mild confusion with the reader.. If you need more syllables, add an "exactly" after "know".
    – J. Taylor
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 13:27
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    The question asked about what is grammatically correct, not what is good style... I don't think this answer does a good job explaining the grammar of these sentences. After reading it, I don't know if you think "I think that I know what kind of person that I am" is ungrammatical, or just bad style. "I think that I know what kind of person I am" is certainly grammatical, as Harmless says, even if you prefer "I think I know what kind of person I am."
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 16:54
  • @sumelic, thank you for your comment. I intentionally did not directly answer if the second "that" was grammatically correct for two reasons. The first was supported by the OP's comment about needing syllables. I thought there was something like that in the question..The second reason was that the second "that" could, with a pause after "person" might past muster. I agree I did not directly answer a grammar question, but the question was"Could you put it like in the example above?" Thank you again for the comment.
    – J. Taylor
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 17:32

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