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Are there rules about using “that” to join two clauses?

In the following, does the word "that" belong?

"He said that we should go fishing."

marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt Mar 15 '12 at 23:06

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This usage of "that" is correct and belongs.

"That" sets off a dependent clause but could be left off without ambiguity:

He said we should go fishing.

This basically means the same thing and the "that" is implicit: "we should go fishing" acts as a dependent clause, telling us what was said.

  • So it doesn't belong? – Moshe Nov 11 '10 at 2:12
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    it does belong, and it is grammatical; but you can also leave it out. – Claudiu Nov 11 '10 at 2:58
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    There's actual a minute difference, but right now I can't remember it. I believe it was to the effect of "that" implying paraphrasing, whereas without it you imply his actual words. – stevendesu Nov 14 '10 at 18:09

The answer to your question is, Yes, it does belong. The use of the word "that" allows the current speaker to paraphrase in general terms what was said whereas leaving "that" off requires a direct quotation.

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