something <that> you feel is wrong

brian&me

Senior Member
Chinese - China
Hi friends, please read this.

If you are feeling pressure to do something you feel is wrong, talk to a friend, parent, or counselor to find a solution.

(from Transition to High School)

I wonder if a “that” is omitted before “you feel is wrong”.

Many thanks in advance.
 
  • brian&me

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thanks, lingobingo and bennymix.

    In my grammar books, they say when a relative pronoun is an object, it can be omitted. But when it acts as a subject, it cannot be omitted. In the example in the OP, I think the “that” acts as an subject, but it can also be omitted. I wonder if it’s a special case.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    You feel (that) this thing is wrong.
    It is a thing (that) you feel __ is wrong.
    You are pressured to do a thing (that) you feel __ is wrong.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Do you think the "that" is the subject of "is"?
    Yes. And that's why if it weren't for "you feel", you couldn't omit "that":
    If you are feeling pressure to do something you feel is wrong,:tick:
    If you are feeling pressure to do something that you feel is wrong,:tick:
    If you are feeling pressure to do something is wrong,:cross:
    If you are feeling pressure to do something that is wrong,:tick:
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Brian&me, you're right that if the sentence was:
    If you are feeling pressure to do something that is wrong, talk to a friend....
    it would be essential to include the red relative pronoun "that", because it's the subject of the verb "is".

    As Vic and etb say, what makes your sentence different is the "you feel". The blue relative pronoun can be omitted because it's the subject of a subordinate clause - it's not the subject of the main verb in the relative clause.
    If you are feeling pressure to do something that you feel is wrong, talk to a friend....:tick:
    If you are feeling pressure to do something you feel is wrong, talk to a friend....:tick:
     

    loviii

    Senior Member
    russian
    1)
    If "that" is the object of "feel", what is the subject of the "is"?
    That's the main question which for some reason nobody can answer(((

    2) "If you are feeling pressure to do something wrong, ..." is correct.
    Then we can add "(that) you feel" (without "is" as in the initial example):
    If you are feeling pressure to do something (that) you feel wrong, ...
    Am I right?

    Thanks!
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If-clause:
    If you are feeling pressure
    Infinitive clause modifying “pressure”:
    to do something
    Relative clause modifying “something”
    [that] you feel is wrong,​
    Main clause (in imperative):
    talk to a friend, parent, or counselor to find a solution.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Thanks, lingobingo and bennymix.

    In my grammar books, they say when a relative pronoun is an object, it can be omitted. But when it acts as a subject, it cannot be omitted. In the example in the OP, I think the “that” acts as an subject, but it can also be omitted. I wonder if it’s a special case.
    That is not a hard and fast rule. Sentences such as "That's the man says you did it" do exist. A better rule is just that we avoid creating confusion. The example I just gave is a little confusing because "the man" seems to be a candidate for the subject of "says" until we get to the end of the sentence.

    It is only a little confusing, though, because it is hard to imagine a context for something like "That's [the fact that] the man says ..." in which it would be at all natural to omit "that".

    The phrase in your sentence is not confusing because the subject of "feel" is obviously "you", not "something", and "is" needs a subject.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Sentences such as "That's the man says you did it" do exist
    They don't exist in the English we teach to ESL students though :).

    I think "subject contact relatives" are generally regarded as belonging to particular dialects, though some speakers of standard BE English may use them occasionally. Perhaps they are more commonly used in AE.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I still didn't get it:oops: Nor did I get this: "That's [the fact that] the man says ..."
    Yes, it is confusing.

    "That's the man says you did it" works better with "that" between "man" and "says", but some people casually omit the "that", or use the shorter "as".

    You might say we can omit "that" whenever it is a subordinating conjunction, but I would not omit it from this sentence:

    There is something bothering me, and that's that the man says you did it.

    In fact I find omitting this "that" even less natural than omitting "who" from "That's the man who says you did it."

    My point is that sentences read better when we can see where they are going as soon as is convenient for the speaker.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Yes, it is confusing.

    "That's the man says you did it" works better with "that" between "man" and "says", but some people casually omit the "that", or use the shorter "as".
    Yes but the problem is Forero said "the man" is not actually the subject of "says", whereas if it's just a case of an omitted relative pronoun, between "man" and "says", then "the man" is the (real) subject...
     

    bennymix

    Senior Member
    Yes but the problem is Forero said "the man" is not actually the subject of "says", whereas if it's just a case of an omitted relative pronoun, between "man" and "says", then "the man" is the (real) subject...
    "Man" is certainly the one who says. What is your point.

    Consider B: "That's the man--he says you did it."

    "Omitted who" is a guess. We can say "omitted he' just as well.

    Speech omits words. B*: That's the man ...says you did it."

    I believe Forero in another thread remarked about how these plausible omissions occur, when they do, in cleft or similar sentences. A story.

    B3: "There was a man...lived down the street from me...had a long beard, and he'd sometimes let me pull on it."

    Who's to say what word is omitted. he, man, who....? It's rather clear to the hearer because of pauses. The sentence structure makes the agent clear, contrary to what Vic says, above.

    I think much of the fuss comes from written examples easily misread. In speech, for example, to my young son. "You...Here...Quick" is quite understandable, but the grammarist is going to say, I've omitted a verb, but can't say which: 'be' 'come' etc.
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    It's worth stressing, I think, that
    - the sentence in the OP does not contain what veli called a "subject contact relative"
    - the omission of the relative pronoun in that sentence is 100% standard English.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Yes but the problem is Forero said "the man" is not actually the subject of "says", whereas if it's just a case of an omitted relative pronoun, between "man" and "says", then "the man" is the (real) subject...
    In the grammar I learned, the "says" clause needs a subject, the null relative pronoun (which you can call omitted "who" or "that"), and the relative clause, including its subject, modifies "the man" in the main clause.

    And in, for example, "I see him who said that", the direct object of "see" is "him who said that", a personal pronoun in objective case modified by a relative clause with its own subject, "who", a relative pronoun in subjective case, and verb, "said". "Him" is the antecedent of "who", but they play different roles in the sentence.

    In the "him who" sentence, if "him" is the subject of "said", why is it not "he"? And what, then, is "who"?

    "Something you feel is wrong" is not at all problematic, because "something" is immediately followed by the personal pronoun "you". When we get to the verb "feel", we know its subject is "you", not "something", and we "see" the null relative pronoun between "something" and "you" (and we know we should find a "trace" somewhere after "feel").

    But because "is" is a verb, "you are feeling pressure to do something is wrong" does not readily suggest a null relative pronoun after "something".
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Thank you everyone.

    Sorry, Forero, I thought that in #20 I was replying to veli:eek:

    I see now I just overanalized that. When you said "because "the man" seems to be a candidate for the subject of "says" until we get to the end of the sentence" you meant that it was the omitted relative (null) pronoun that was the subject.
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Hi friends, please read this.

    If you are feeling pressure to do something you feel is wrong, talk to a friend, parent, or counselor to find a solution.

    (from Transition to High School)

    I wonder if a “that” is omitted before “you feel is wrong”.

    Many thanks in advance.
    Yes, "that" is omitted.

    In my grammar books, they say when a relative pronoun is an object, it can be omitted. But when it acts as a subject, it cannot be omitted. In the example in the OP, I think the “that” acts as an subject, but it can also be omitted. I wonder if it’s a special case.
    That rule is correct, but for relative clauses; in your example, there is no relative clause; what you have is a noun/nominal clause, with "that" as complementizer ("conjunction" in traditional grammar). Let's put "that" back:

    something that you feel is wrong = you feel that something is wrong

    Can you omit "that"? Yes,
    you feel that something is wrong ~ you feel something is wrong

    Does "that" play a grammatical role in the clause that follows ("something is wrong")? No. The clause has a subject ("something"), a verb ("is"), and a predicate complement/subject complement ("wrong"). What "that" does is introduce the subordinate clause, allowing "something that follows" to function as complement of "feel" (that's why "that" is called a complementizer). You can replace the noun/nominal clause with the direct object pronoun "it:" you feel that something is wrong ~ you feel it.

    Now, given that there is a higher transitive clause, "something" moves up to become the object of "to do:"

    If you are feeling pressure to do something you feel is wrong

    For analytical purposes, we say that moving "something" leaves a gap and a trace ("t") where the subject of "is" normally goes, stated as

    If you are feeling pressure to do something that you feel ___t is right

    The gap and trace are phonologically null/silent.

    In I see him who said that,

    the higher/main clause and the subordinate/relative clause have different syntactic needs. The higher clause needs an object pronoun for "see" (I see him), while the subordinate clause needs a subject pronoun for "said" (who said). "Him" is the antecedent of "who," but this is a semantic relationship ("him" is what gives "who" meaning). There's no reason for "him" to be "he," and there is a good reason for the pronoun to be "him;" to do needs an object pronoun.
     

    billj

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hi friends, please read this.

    If you are feeling pressure to do something you feel is wrong, talk to a friend, parent, or counselor to find a solution.

    (from Transition to High School)

    I wonder if a “that” is omitted before “you feel is wrong”.

    Many thanks in advance.
    Strictly speaking, "that" is not a relative pronoun but a clause subordinator. We 'gap' the clause to show the position of the missing relative pronoun:

    If you are feeling pressure to do something you feel ____ is wrong

    The clause contains a gap in the position of subject of the embedded "is wrong" clause, and this gap is linked to "something", the antecedent.
     

    billj

    Senior Member
    British English
    That rule is correct, but for relative clauses; in your example, there is no relative clause; what you have is a noun/nominal clause, with "that" as complementizer ("conjunction" in traditional grammar). Let's put "that" back:
    I wouldn't go along with that, though I agree that that is a subordinator when it introduces relative and content clauses. The relative clause is you feel is wrong, which contains the embedded content clause ____ is wrong, functioning as complement of feel. There is no relative pronoun present, but the gap notation '_____' represents the position of covert relativised element, functioning as subject of the content clause:

    If you are feeling pressure to do something [(that) you feel ____ is wrong]

    The relative clause is bracketed, and gap is linked to "something", the antecedent.

    Note that presence or absence of "that" has no bearing on the analysis, though it is omissible in this instance.
     
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    Forero

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I sense some confusion in this thread between the subordinating conjunction that, the relative pronoun that, and the "trace". In our sentence:

    If you are feeling pressure to do something you feel is wrong, talk to a friend, parent, or counselor to find a solution.

    there is a relative pronoun assumed between "something" and "you", to provide the subject of "is". "Something" is the antecedent of that relative pronoun.

    Yes, you can include an explicit relative pronoun (which or that) in that position:

    If you are feeling pressure to do something which you feel _ is wrong, talk to a friend, parent, or counselor to find a solution.

    Here I have included a "_" to represent a trace. The trace is just a "hole" in the syntax. There is nothing there in normal spoken or written English, no pause, no cadence in the intonation, nothing.

    But that trace allows us to look at the relative clause as a declarative sentence that has been relativized (turned into a relative clause). It shows us where a noun phrase was in the declarative sentence, a noun phrase that is no longer there after the relativization process that gave us the relative pronoun.

    Every relative clause contains a trace. For example, "That thing is wrong" can be relativized as "which _ is wrong", where "_" represents the trace, the "hole" that is left where "that thing" used to be.

    Now there is also a null subordinator in our sentence between "feel" and the trace left by relativization.

    The subordinator that can be included in a declarative sentence:

    You feel (that) that thing is wrong.

    But when this declarative sentence is relativized , one element ("that thing" in my example) becomes a trace, and a relative pronoun appears in front:

    Which you feel _ is wrong

    But what has happened to the that, that I just had in boldface?

    Consider a slightly different declarative clause:

    You feel how that thing is wrong.

    This relativizes to:

    Which you feel how _ is wrong

    "How" is kept, but unlike "how", the subordinating conjunction "that", optional in the declarative sentence, completely disappears in the relativization process.

    It disappears because of the ambiguity of the English word that. Because the same word can be a subordinating conjunction, a relative pronoun, or a demonstrative pronoun, it is removed to avoid clouding the issue.

    In other words, "something which you feel that is wrong" is proper syntax, but we normally remove the conjunction "that" when it might be misinterpreted as a relative pronoun (meaning "which") or a demonstrative pronoun (meaning "the thing we're talking about", approximately).
     
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    billj

    Senior Member
    British English
    I sense some confusion in this thread between the subordinating conjunction that, the relative pronoun that, and the "trace". In our sentence:

    If you are feeling pressure to do something you feel is wrong, talk to a friend, parent, or counselor to find a solution.
    I would classify "that" as a subordinator when it is introducing relative clauses.There are several solid reasons for that. For example, the patients to whom the letter was sent is grammatical but *the patients to that the letter was sent is of course not.

    there is a relative pronoun assumed between "something" and "you", to provide the subject of "is". "Something" is the antecedent of that relative pronoun.
    Agreed. The nucleus contains a gap in the position of the subject of "is".

    Yes, you can include an explicit relative pronoun (which or that) in that position:

    If you are feeling pressure to do something which you feel _ is wrong, talk to a friend, parent, or counselor to find a solution.
    Yes, either the subordinator "that" or the relative pronoun "which" can be inserted.

    Every relative clause contains a trace.
    Not where the relativised element is subject as in The man [who came to dinner] turned out to be from my home town.


    Consider a slightly different declarative clause:

    You feel how that thing is wrong.

    This relativizes to:

    Which you feel how _ is wrong

    "How" is kept, but unlike "how", the subordinating conjunction "that", optional in the declarative sentence, completely disappears in the relativization process.
    I don't follow you. That example is ungrammatical. "How" is not used in relative clauses, except in the 'fused' free-choice construction, as in You can do it it how(ever) you wish.
    Or are you using "how" as a very informal variant of "that", as in Ed told him how his cattle were being rustled, where "how" is simply equivalent to "that"?

    It disappears because of the ambiguity of the English word that. Because the same word can be a subordinating conjunction, a relative pronoun, or a demonstrative pronoun, it is removed to avoid clouding the issue.

    In other words, "something which you feel that is wrong" is proper syntax, but we normally remove the conjunction "that" when it might be misinterpreted as a relative pronoun (meaning "which") or a demonstrative pronoun (meaning "the thing we're talking about", approximately).
    "That" is simply an optional subordinator in the OP's example. Gap doesn't represent "that" -- it can't since "that" is not a relative word; rather, the subject in the nucleus is realised by a gap anaphorically linked to the antecedent "something". Thus the antecedent of the gap is external to the relative clause. However, if the relativised element was the relative pronoun "which", then gap would be anaphorically linked to "which", which derives its interpretation from the head, "something".
     
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    Steven David

    Senior Member
    General American English USA - Standard
    Hi friends, please read this.

    If you are feeling pressure to do something you feel is wrong, talk to a friend, parent, or counselor to find a solution.

    (from Transition to High School)

    I wonder if a “that” is omitted before “you feel is wrong”.

    Many thanks in advance.

    Yes, "that" is omitted.

    It's possible to put "that" after "something" and before "you", yes.

    "Something" is the object of do.

    "(that) you feel is wrong" << This is an identifying clause. This clause identifies something.

    do - verb

    something (that) you feel is wrong - object of the verb "do"

    The indefinite pronoun "something" is the object of "do". And the indefinite pronoun "something" combined with its identifying clause is also the object of "do".

    Because the identifying clause is an object, we do not have to use "that". In this sentence, "that" is optional.


    "pressure to do something you feel is wrong"

    The above phrase is the object of the verbal noun 'feeling".

    Either way we look at it, we have an object here. And so this is, again, why "that" can be omitted.
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    The indefinite pronoun "something" is the object of "do". And the indefinite pronoun "something" combined with its identifying clause is also the object of "do".

    Because the identifying clause is an object, we do not have to use "that". In this sentence, "that" is optional.
    So you could omit "that" in Do something that is wrong, Steven?
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    General American English USA - Standard
    So you could omit "that" in Do something that is wrong, Steven?

    Are you asking me, Loob, because you don't know whether it is possible to omit "that" in this sentence?

    I would have to say that you know the answer to this question. So it's not clear why you ask.

    "Do something that is wrong." << Also, this sentence is an imperative. And this is a very unlikely sentence. How could anyone imagine that someone would order someone to do something that is wrong?
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    The "this is an object" argument that you presented and I quoted would apply equally to the sentence Do something that is wrong. By my reckoning, that means that your argument is flawed, I'm afraid.

    You might like to look at some of the earlier posts in the thread:).
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    General American English USA - Standard
    The "this is an object" argument that you presented and I quoted would apply equally to the sentence Do something that is wrong. By my reckoning, that means that your argument is flawed, I'm afraid.

    You might like to look at some of the earlier posts in the thread:).

    No, the reasoning, or the statement, is not flawed. (It's not an argument.) If what I posted is not the reason that "that" can be omitted in the original example sentence, then what do you suppose the reason would be?

    It's just that we don't have an answer as to why "that" cannot be omitted in your example sentence. Would you happen to know why "that" cannot be omitted in your example sentence?

    "Do something that is wrong." <<

    I would note that "that is" can be omitted in the above sentence. Sometimes we can omit the "relative pronoun" and the verb "be" or a form of the verb "be" like "is".

    "Do something wrong." <<

    Still, that is a very unlikely sentence.

    More likely sentences would be these: Do something that's right for a change. Do something right for a change. An admonishment to do something that is right for a change is more likely than an order to do something that is wrong or to do something wrong.

    So, in the example sentence that you asked about, "that is" stays or "that is" can be omitted. But "that" cannot be omitted alone. In other words, if there is an omission, it has to be "that is", not just "that" in the example sentence that you asked about, Loob.

    Do something that is wrong.

    Do something wrong.

    But, of course, not, * "Do something is wrong".

    We have to omit "that is" or omit nothing.

    Given the above observation, I would not say that your example sentence equally applies to the original example sentence in speaking of omitting "that" or not omitting "that". And this includes the reason I gave that we can omit "that" in the original example sentence.
     
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    Steven David

    Senior Member
    General American English USA - Standard
    The "this is an object" argument that you presented and I quoted would apply equally to the sentence Do something that is wrong. By my reckoning, that means that your argument is flawed, I'm afraid.

    You might like to look at some of the earlier posts in the thread:).

    I don't believe that they apply equally.

    Here's your example sentence.

    1) Do something that is wrong.

    Here's another example sentence, which is similar in form but not the same exact form.

    2) Do something that you feel is wrong.

    I would have to say that the reason "that" cannot be omitted in your example sentence has something to do with the fact that we use the verb "is" and that there is no subject before the verb "is". This is to say a subject that is a person, which is the case with "Do something that you feel is wrong".

    The second example sentence, with the verb "feel", is taken from the original example sentence. And, like the original example sentence, we can omit "that" in example number two above. Also, again, the verb "feel" has a subject to and the verb "is" does not have a subject. So these are two different things and don't make for a good comparison in speaking of whether "that" can or cannot be omitted.

    So, again, I have to say that your example sentence does not apply to the original example sentence and the reason I stated that we can "omit" that in the original example sentence.

    I also consider my previous post along with this.

    Also, I would like to state that I did not present an "argument". I made a statement. What I posted was not an argument and should not be characterised as an argument.
     
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    Steven David

    Senior Member
    General American English USA - Standard
    Hi friends, please read this.

    If you are feeling pressure to do something you feel is wrong, talk to a friend, parent, or counselor to find a solution.

    (from Transition to High School)

    I wonder if a “that” is omitted before “you feel is wrong”.

    Many thanks in advance.

    Here's a somewhat different way of putting it. This is why we can omit "that" in the example sentence.

    Because "something" is the object of "do", and the clause "(that) you feel is wrong" identifies "something", we can omit "that". The clause identifies an object. This is why we can omit "that".

    When a clause identifies a subject, then we cannot omit "that".

    Here's an example of a clause that identifies a subject.

    They are the people that told me to do it.

    The clause, "that told me to do it", identifies "people". And "people" is a subject, not an object. Therefore, we cannot omit "that".

    These two sentences illustrate the point clearly.

    1) People told me to do it.

    2) They are the people that told me to do it.
     

    billj

    Senior Member
    British English
    Here's a somewhat different way of putting it. This is why we can omit "that" in the example sentence.

    Because "something" is the object of "do", and the clause "(that) you feel is wrong" identifies "something", we can omit "that". The clause identifies an object. This is why we can omit "that".

    When a clause identifies a subject, then we cannot omit "that".

    Here's an example of a clause that identifies a subject.

    They are the people that told me to do it.

    The clause, "that told me to do it", identifies "people". And "people" is a subject, not an object. Therefore, we cannot omit "that".

    These two sentences illustrate the point clearly.

    1) People told me to do it.

    2) They are the people that told me to do it.
    It's much simpler than that.

    If you are feeling pressure to do something [you feel [ _____ is wrong]] ...

    The subordinator "that" is omissible provided the gap is not in subject position in the relative clause, which it clearly isn't here. Gap is subject of the embedded "is" clause functioning as complement of "feel". Since there is no relative pronoun in the sentence, gap is of course anaphoric to "something".
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    General American English USA - Standard
    It's much simpler than that.

    If you are feeling pressure to do something [you feel [ _____ is wrong]] ...

    The subordinator "that" is omissible provided the gap is not in subject position in the relative clause, which it clearly isn't here. Gap is subject of the embedded "is" clause functioning as complement of "feel". Since there is no relative pronoun in the sentence, gap is of course anaphoric to "something".

    Interesting. That sounds more complicated to me.

    I understand, however, "that" can come before the "is" clause.

    If I were explaining this to someone who is learning English, I would not use that explanation. However, this does not have to do with the idea that it sounds complicated to me.

    I would like to understand your explanation better. Perhaps, this could be another discussion.
     
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    Steven David

    Senior Member
    General American English USA - Standard
    It's much simpler than that.

    If you are feeling pressure to do something [you feel [ _____ is wrong]] ...

    ... ... gap is of course anaphoric to "something".

    This, I understand. However, I don't get how it explains the fact that we can omit "that" after "something".

    The "gap", before the "is" clause", where we could put "that", refers to "something" just as "you feel" refers to "something".

    So we get this: "something (that) you feel" and this "something (that) is wrong, and both clauses identify "something", which is the object of "do". This explains how "that" can be omitted.

    Can you break down your explanation more?

    Again, this, the "anaphora", I understand. However, I don't get how it serves as an explanation for omitting "that" in the original example sentence as it was originally provided or posted.

    :confused: Where is the :idea:?

    Steve
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    General American English USA - Standard
    Yes, I think that's a good idea.

    One more comment or question here:

    Do you mean that because "gap" refers to an object, we can omit "that" in both cases? 1) after "something", which is an object, and 2) before the "is" clause, which is embedded as part of the whole clause "(that) you feel is wrong".

    So is this your simplified explanation, taking into account anaphora?

    Because "gap" refers to an object, or is anaphoric to "something", we can omit "that", which would come after "something". (Understanding that the "gap" is where it's possible to place "that")

    If that's the idea, then, yes, that's a simpler explanation. I would hesitate to use the term "anaphoric", however. If this is the idea, then it's another viewpoint (another way to explain it) -- and an interesting one.

    Is that the idea?
     
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    Steven David

    Senior Member
    General American English USA - Standard
    Speaking of this example posted earlier

    * "That's the man says you did it." :cross:

    "That's the man that says you did it." :tick:

    We cannot omit "that" here because "that" refers to "the man" and "the man" is a subject.

    Or, to go on what @billj posted, the explanation could be this? (Yes? No?)

    We cannot omit "that" in this sentence because "that" is anaphoric to a subject.

    It's clear that "that" does not refer to an object.

    It's important to note we can use "who" in place of "that" here because the relative pronoun refers to (is anaphoric to) a person. Both "that" and "who" can refer to things and people. However, "who" only refers to people.
     
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    Steven David

    Senior Member
    General American English USA - Standard
    > @bennymix - Consider B: "That's the man--he says you did it." < Post #21 something <that> you feel is wrong

    Okay, considering B - And considering B in the interest of the original poster's understanding

    We can say that there are two sentences combined to make one, with one sentence becoming a subordinate identifying clause.

    That's the man. He says you did it.

    Replace "he", a subject, with either "that" or "who" and combine the two ideas.

    That's the man who says you did it.

    That's the man that says you did it.

    And, of course, we cannot omit "that" or "who" in the above sentences (reference this post: something <that> you feel is wrong).
     

    billj

    Senior Member
    British English
    This, I understand. However, I don't get how it explains the fact that we can omit "that" after "something".

    The "gap", before the "is" clause", where we could put "that", refers to "something" just as "you feel" refers to "something".

    So we get this: "something (that) you feel" and this "something (that) is wrong, and both clauses identify "something", which is the object of "do". This explains how "that" can be omitted.

    Can you break down your explanation more?

    Again, this, the "anaphora", I understand. However, I don't get how it serves as an explanation for omitting "that" in the original example sentence as it was originally provided or posted.

    :confused: Where is the :idea:?

    Steve
    It may help to compare this pair:

    [1] I have some friends [that ____ saw her].
    [2] I have the key [(that) she found ____].

    In [1] gap is in the position of subject of the verb "saw", and "that" is obligatory. If it is omitted the sentence becomes ungrammatical: *I have some friends saw her.

    In [2], by contrast, gap is in the position of object of the verb "found", and hence "that" is optional.

    Thus it is the position of gap that determines whether "that" is obligatory or optional.
     
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    Steven David

    Senior Member
    General American English USA - Standard
    It may help to compare this pair:

    [1] I have some friends that ____ saw her.
    [2] I have the key (that) she found ____.

    In [1] gap is in subject position and "that" is obligatory. If it is omitted the sentence becomes ungrammatical: *I have some friends saw her.
    In [2], by contrast, gap is in object position, and "that" is optional.

    Thus it is the position of gap that determines whether "that" is obligatory or optional.

    "Thus it is the position of gap that determines whether "that" is obligatory or optional."


    Okay, then, I can understand it with this explanation. :) I understand your statement, billj.

    That makes sense to me. It's a shorter or simpler explanation.

    I would have to consider it more, however, before thinking that I can use it as a way to explain omitting "that" to someone learning English.

    ________________________

    Side note: Can this idea of "gap" - possibly - be used to explain why we can omit "that" before a "noun clause object"??

    I thought _____ they meant something else.

    I thought that.

    I thought that they meant something else.

    "That", by itself, is the object of "thought". And can we now say that "gap", or "that", is anaphoric to "they meant something else", which is the object of "thought"??

    Clearly, "they meant something else" is a noun clause object, which can be introduced by "that". And "that" is optional.
     
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    billj

    Senior Member
    British English
    "Thus it is the position of gap that determines whether "that" is obligatory or optional."


    Okay, then, I can understand it with this explanation. :) I understand your statement, billj.

    That makes sense to me. It's a shorter or simpler explanation.

    I would have to consider it more, however, before thinking that I can use it as a way to explain omitting "that" to someone learning English.
    I can see that, since gapping doesn't always come naturally to learners. The difficulty is that there is no other way to explain things other than to say that "that" is a relative pronoun. But that would misleading, even flat wrong, and it's for those reasons that I wouldn't recommend it.

    Side note: Can this idea of "gap" - possibly - be used to explain why we can omit "that" before a "noun clause object"??

    I thought _____ they meant something else.

    I thought that.

    I thought that they meant something else.

    "That", by itself, is the object of "thought". And can we now say that "gap", or "that" is anaphoric to "they meant something else", which is the object of "thought"??

    Clearly, "they meant something else" is a noun clause object, which can be introduced by "that". And "that" is optional.
    No, I'm afraid it can't. With declarative content clauses (your noun clauses), different considerations apply.

    "That" is sometimes obligatory, sometimes optional, and sometimes inadmissible. Briefly:

    That I need help is clear. [preposed subject of matrix clause -- obligatory]
    *I left before that he arrived. [complement of preposition - inadmissible]
    I know (that) it's genuine. [optional]

    Perhaps someone (you?) could post a separate question about "that" in such content clauses.
     
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