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Grammar and Usage

Double Words: THAT THAT

A previous lesson  on the double word had helped you to understand that double words sometimes called echo words are common in the English language. And today we continue our lesson on double words in a sentence. Double words in a sentence may look weird at first glance. They may even confuse you! Encountering double words is probably awkward to most readers but not to worry because today we’re going to look at another set of double words and that is the double that.

The Double That In a Sentence : that that

When you see a double that, you’re actually seeing two clauses working together to form a complete thought. The first that is usually a subordinating conjunction, and the second that can be a demonstrative adjective, or a determiner, a pronoun, or an adverb.

Let’s look at this example.

My friend Cassie is getting married, and she just picked out her bridesmaids dresses. Now let’s be honest. What can you say about this dress? Hmm do you like it? Some of you will and some of you will not.

I think that that dress will not please everyone.

See what I did there? I used the double that in this sentence.

Now let’s break it down. The first that is a subordinating conjunction and the second that is a demonstrative adjective modifying the noun dress.

Now let’s look at this other sentence.

I believe that that will not please everyone.

I’m still referring to the dress but notice that the second that is now a pronoun.

The Double That Can Be a Demonstrative Adjective, a Pronoun, or an Adverb

So what are some ways that you could rewrite these sentences and make them less awkward?

You could say: I think that this dress…

so you’re replacing the second that with another demonstrative pronoun.

Or you can say: I think that the dress Cassie picked…

and you can actually use the noun

or you can say: I think that it and you can use a pronoun

And one last example, and in this example the second that is actually an adverb.

It is my opinion that that much plastic surgery didn’t make her more attractive.

Now notice that in this example the second that is an adverb used to show intensity degree or extent.

So how could you rewrite the sentence and remove the second that?

You could say:  It’s my opinion that so much plastic surgery didn’t make her more attractive.

Notice what we did here. We removed the second that and in this case so is used as an adverb.

To conclude,  that the use of the double that should be avoided if possible because like I said earlier, it’s a bit awkward, and it could confuse your reader.


Grammar and Usage

Introduction to Reducing Adverb Clauses

Reducing Adverb Clauses

We know that an adverb modifies a verb, an adjective,  or another adverb. It answers the  question of when, where, how, why, to what extent or under what conditions.

In the same manner, adverb clauses add information that elaborates on when, where, why, and how by modifying or describing verbs, adjectives or other adverbs. An adverb clause is a dependent or subordinate clause that has a relationship with the independent or main clause.  The adverb clause is referred to as the dependent clause and it connects to the independent clause with a subordinating conjunction. The subordinating conjunction establishes the relationship between the two clauses: the adverb clause and the main clause.


There may be times when you will want to reduce the adverb clause to an adverbial phrase. Reduced adverb clauses are mostly used in formal writing to add variety and conciseness to your sentence structure. 

When reducing adverb clauses, we must consider four things: 

  1. Both the independent clause and the adverb clause must share the same subject. 
  2. Remove the modal or auxiliary verb in the adverb clause. (There are exceptions to this.)
  3. The reduction must not alter the relationship or time frame indicated in the original sentence.
  4. You may leave the subordinating conjunction with the exception of because, since, or as.


EXAMPLES of Reduced Adverb Clauses


  1. Although the bride was nervous, she was happy to walk down the aisle.
  • The first thing you’re going to do is check the subjects in both clauses: the bride in the adverb clause and she in the main clause.
  • Remove the subject “the bride” in the adverb clause and move it over to the main clause. The pronoun “she” is ambiguous. It could be any person, but you want to make sure your reader knows it’s “the bride”. 
  • Remove the helping verb “was”. 

Reduction: Although nervous, the bride was happy to walk down the aisle.

2.  Once the cake is done, it must cool in the refrigerator.

  • Move “the cake” over to the main clause.
  • Remove the helping verb “is”.

Reduction: Once done, the cake must cool in the refrigerator.

3. Because she did not have breakfast, Minnie was hungry and tired all morning.

  • Remove the subject in the adverb clause.
  • Remove the helping verb did and the subordinate conjunction “because”.

Reduction: Not having breakfast, Minnie was hungry and tired all morning.

4. Before Dee goes to bed, she brushes her teeth.

  • Move the subject “Dee” over to the main clause. 
  • Change the verb “goes” to the present participle “going”.

Reduction: Before going to bed, Dee brushes her teeth.


5. While Father was mowing the lawn, he whistled a tune.

  • Move “Father” over to the main clause.
  • Remove the helping verb “was”.

While mowing the lawn, Father whistled a tune.

Caution: Beware of dangling modifiers.

6. Tom was attacked by a shark when he was swimming in the beach.

  • Tom was attacked while swimming in the beach implies that the shark is the one swimming in the beach.
  • Move the clause to the beginning.

While swimming in the beach, Tom was attacked by a shark.


File name : Introduction-to-Reducing-Adverb-Clauses.pdf