the moment that/when

Michelle Green

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi all,
Should we use that, when, or just omit "that" after "the moment"?
For example:
1. The moment that he had said it he knew what a mistake he had made. (I saw this sentence in a grammar book.)
2. The moment he had said it he knew what a mistake he had made.
3. The moment when he had said it he knew what a mistake he had made.
Are these three sentences all right? Thank you.
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I prefer the sentence without that or when.

    The complete sentence is
    {.......At........the moment..............that he had said it}, .......he knew what a mistake he had made.
    {Preposition...[......noun...............defining relative clause]}
    {Preposition...[................noun phrase...........................]}
    {...................................Adverbial modifier.....................}
     

    Michelle Green

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I prefer the sentence without that or when.

    The complete sentence is
    {.......At........the moment..............that he had said it}, .......he knew what a mistake he had made.
    {Preposition...[......noun...............defining relative clause]}
    {Preposition...[................noun phrase...........................]}
    {...................................Adverbial modifier.....................}
    Thank you. Is it wrong to use "that" or "when"?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    That is optional but best omitted. I agree that when doesn’t work.

    “The [very] moment [that]” is equivalent to “as soon as”.

    “The moment when” is not. It’s more appropriate in a statement about that moment: The first time I held the baby in my arms was the moment when I really began feeling like a father.
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    If we add "at", will the sentence with "when" be correct?:
    At the moment when he had said it he knew what a mistake he had made.

    I don't see it as a construction with "at": "at" is not elided in the sentence. "The moment that" means "as soon as" but "at the moment that" doesn't mean that.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If we add "at", will the sentence with "when" be correct?:
    At the moment when he had said it he knew what a mistake he had made.
    Do you want it to be grammatically acceptable (which it is) or the best way to say it? The at is already ‘understood’ in the idiom “the moment”, which means: at the [very] moment that / as soon as. Physically adding it doesn’t alter the fact that both it and “when” are redundant in that idiom. A good writer would use the standard phrase, without adding superfluous words.

    What I find more interesting is the effect of — unnecessarily, in my view — using the past perfect in that adverbial of time.

    The moment he says it, he knows he has made a mistake (= saying and knowing are concurrent)
    The moment he said it, he knew he had made a mistake (= saying and knowing were concurrent)
    The moment he had said it, he knew he had made a mistake (= saying preceded knowing)
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    What I find more interesting is the effect of — unnecessarily, in my view — using the past perfect in that adverbial of time.
    The moment he said it, he knew he had made a mistake (= saying and knowing were concurrent)
    The moment he had said it, he knew he had made a mistake (= saying preceded knowing)

    That's why I said in my post #8 above that I would use the simple past-- the moment expresses the idea it was almost concurrent.
     
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