Is "that've" a valid contraction for "that have"?

For example, the sentence: "I've been working with some substances that've been detrimental to my health."

It follows the patterns of other similar contractions (like would've, that'll've, and others), but doesn't seem to be any dictionary I could find.

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    It's frowned upon by grammarians. I would avoid it when writing, but in conversation it's easy to slur the two words together ("that" + "have") to sound as if it's a contraction. – Zairja Aug 30 '12 at 16:52
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    @Zairja: Which grammarians? – Barrie England Aug 30 '12 at 17:40
  • @BarrieEngland I suppose I should have qualified that. I'm not sure about the opinions of "scholarly" grammarians in the strict linguistic sense, but "prescriptivists", "armchair grammarians", writers and copy-editors seem to have a consensus about the matter. In this case, I'd point to my source: Patricia T. O'Conner. – Zairja Aug 30 '12 at 17:52
  • @Zairja: Never heard of her. Neither she nor the other anonymous figures you cite sound particularly authoritative. – Barrie England Aug 30 '12 at 17:55
  • @BarrieEngland Ah, but we both know that there is no main authority on English, so that'd be moot. I can only offer general opinion as sourced from those who are vocal about it online and in publications. From a prescriptive perspective (e.g. what people are taught in school, copy-editing and so forth), this contraction isn't favored. On the descriptive side (e.g. dictionaries, what we see in common use, and as the question mentions) it's not usually present outside of spoken speech, dialogue or informal writing. Note: this says nothing of the "validity" of the contraction. :) – Zairja Aug 30 '12 at 18:01

It's certainly found in speech alongside who've and which've, and that's how the pronunciations are normally represented in writing. It's a matter of judgement whether you use them in writing when not reporting actual speech, depending on the degree of formality of the context.


As a native speaker of English, I consider "that've" to be a perfectly valid word. Grammarians be damned!


I definitely use it in spoken English (native of the United Kingdom) and have heard it used often here. I've never seen it written that I can remember. Google books search doesn't find much and the Google Ngram search only brings up a very small number.


I do use it in writing. But with a caveat. I write novels and only use it in dialogue to simulate local speech. (Pacific Northwest for me)

My editors accept it in these circumstances. And only these circumstances.

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