5 Grammatical Functions of the word, “that”

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Here are five basic functions the word “that” may perform in a sentence.

1. Subordinating conjunction, introducing a relative/adjectival clause

Two examples:

  • Many bloggers that I know are wonderful people.
  • That’s the bird that flew into our office.

2. Subordinating conjunction, introducing a noun/nominal clause

Two examples:

  • I believe that everyone has something great to offer the world.
  • That she’s a good woman has never been in doubt.

3. Determiner/ Adjective, qualifying a noun within a noun phrase

Two examples:

  • That auto-mechanic nearly destroyed my car’s engine.
  • She says she cannot tolerate that behaviour.

4. Pronoun, functioning as subject or object in a sentence

Four examples:

  • That was all I said. (subject)
  • That means a lot. (subject)
  • How am I supposed to know that? (object)
  • Johnson brought that. (object)

5. Adverbial/Intensifier, modifying an adjective

Two examples:

  • Was it that serious?
  • How can you be that stupid?

Thank you!

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