As an example, would it be proper to say: "What would you do if you found that the people you wished to seek guidance from were secretly undermining your goals?" Another example could be: "We decided a trip was in order. The problem was newspaper reports that there was a dangerous criminal where we wished to travel."

  • It sounded to me to be absolutely correct grammatically. I ran both phrases through two different grammar checks, and neither had any errors grammatically. – even_steven May 4 '17 at 5:25
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    It's perfectly fine to follow "that" with "the" or "there". What gave you the impression that there might be an issue? – fixer1234 May 4 '17 at 5:26
  • which grammar checkers? – JMP May 4 '17 at 5:54
  • @fixer1234 I've wondered the same as the OP for some time; "that" seems redundant, so it can be supposed that only one or the other form might be be correct. – CL22 May 4 '17 at 7:30
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    @Jodes No, no such supposition can be made. Language is not minimalistic mathematics—there is no reason to ever, in any context, suspect that something is incorrect (that is, ungrammatical) simply because it is unnecessary or redundant. Language loves redundancy. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 4 '17 at 18:33

As used in the question, "that" serves as a conjunction to introduce a clause (see, for example, M-W discussion here). When serving as a conjunction, it is not unusual for "that" to be followed by "the" or "there", which would be part of the clause being introduced. In this usage, "that" serves a different purpose than "the" or "there", so they aren't redundant.

In my comment on the question, I wrote, "What gave you the impression that there might be an issue?" "...there might be an issue" is the clause introduced by "that".

For English Language Learners landing here, there might be additional confusion based on general guidance about "that" and "there" being redundant in a certain common non-standard use. As Janus Bahs Jacquet points out in a comment, this is taught in schools as being "wrong" in terms of not conforming to "standard English", but is seen in certain dialects.

An example of this usage is a case like, "Look at that there red house." "There" is used as a "directional" to clarify what house you're referring to, which is redundant when it immediately follows "that", which is also serving to identify the house. If you require "there" to specify the house, "that" doesn't really apply; it isn't adequate to do the job of identifying what you are referring to. You would say either, "Look at that red house" or "Look at the red house there".

However, it is not unusual for both "that" and "there" to be combined in speech as long as they are not consecutive. "That" would precede the object and "there" would follow it, like "Look at that red house there".

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    I wouldn’t say “Look at that there red house” is incorrect, just limited to a specific subset of dialects. In those dialects, however, it’s perfectly grammatical and unremarkable; in other dialects, there would appear after the noun, not before it (there’s no need for a comma before there, though). It’s simply a case of whether there is subsumed into the determiner or used as what CGEL would call a preposition (others might say adjective or locative or a number of other categories). See also this question. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 4 '17 at 18:43
  • @JanusBahsJacquet, I'm still getting used to the difference in philosophy between what I was taught as "correct" English and the view here that English is however people use it; a "mistake" common in any sizeable population is a dialect. Even in areas where "that there" is commonly used, I suspect that English teachers in elementary school teach that it is wrong. From the perspective of a technical examination of language, you can't fight a usage if a lot of people do it, but I'm not sure the right way to teach "proper" English is to frame any incorrect usage as OK because it's a dialect. – fixer1234 May 4 '17 at 19:46
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    Teachers everywhere generally teach ‘standard English’, which is a vague and ill-defined term that refers loosely to a variant that doesn't really correspond to any single dialect but weeds out as many features that aren't shared by the vast majority of dialects as possible. So yes, even in those areas teachers would teach that it's ‘wrong’, because it is non-standard. Despite ‘standard’ being so wishy-washy a term, though, it's still usually better to say that things like this, which are indeed used by a lot of people, are non-standard than to call them incorrect or wrong. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 4 '17 at 20:18
  • @JanusBahsJacquet, better? – fixer1234 May 4 '17 at 20:37
  • I wouldn't say that your last example is particularly unusual, or even that you need to have just been talking about red houses. At least in my dialect (very standard Midwestern American) it is common to say look at that red house over there, especially if the person needs to physically move their head or body to see the house. – 1006a May 4 '17 at 21:33

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