What did Felix think *that* everyone was aware of?[Delete 'that'?]

Tenacious Learner

Senior Member
Spanish
Hi teachers,
The context (The President' Murderer)
‘What did the President say to the Chief on the phone? And why does she want Dinon dead? He went to prison because he murdered the old President. Everybody knows that. What can he talk about … now?’ Felix thought.

What did Felix think that everyone was aware of?
He thought that everybody was aware that Dinon had gone to prison because he had murdered the old President.

My question:
I don't know if it's just me, but I tend to want to read it as meaning that people were aware of what Felix thought. For that reason I would be inclined to delete "that". Is my assumption correct?

Thanks in advance.
 
Last edited:
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Yes, it would certainly help. Deleting 'that' removes the possibility of the unwanted reading, so only the correct reading is left. In speech, the two readings with 'that' have different intonations. The intended one is level across the word 'that', but the unwanted one has a drop before it gets to 'that', because the relative clause applies to the whole preceding thing "what Felix thought":

    What did \Felix think, that everyone was a/ware of?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I disagree that removing "that" is helpful. To me, "Everybody knows that." indicates one thing is known and it is one of three possibilities in the single preceding sentence. "Everybody knows" leave open the possibility that everyone knows not only "that" but what the President said and why she wants Dinon dead.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I feel "that" is necessary because "know" wants to be transitive. What does everyone know? Everyone knows that he went to prison because he murdered the old President.
    I see no "two readings" here.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I see no "two readings" here.
    I think it's possible that everybody could know "he went to prison," "he killed the old president," or "he went to prison because he killed the old president."
    I don't think it's possible that Felix thinks that everybody knows the thought that Felix just now having - particularly since the "that" is embedded inside it. It's neither logical or grammatical (wouldn't it be "this"?).
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I'm with etb: I would tend to omit "that" in TL's original sentence.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Oh, I see, Loob. That that I too would omit, but I don't think that's the that that TL meant. That was just TL's rhetorical question.
    The thread title makes clear, I think, that the question is about the that in "Everybody knows that."
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Yes, you're right, Edinburgher: in "Everybody knows that", that is necessary. TL needs to come back and tell us which "that" he's asking about:D.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Moderator's apology:

    I fear that I have a part in the confusion. :eek:

    The original title was 'Delate 'that'?'. I wanted to make it more descriptive, and added "Everybody knows that" to the title, taking that for the subject. Now I see that I may have been mistaken. I should have waited for clarification by the OP.

    I have changed the title back to the original, pending that clarification.

    My apologies to everyone for the confusion.

    Cagey, moderator.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Ah, fret not, Cagey!:)


    You still need to make it clear which "that" you're asking about, TL:rolleyes:.
     

    Tenacious Learner

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Hello teachers,
    So sorry. :eek:
    This is the 'that' I'm referring to, the one in the question.
    What did Felix think that everyone was aware of?
    The bold black 'that' in the answer is optional, isn't it? And the blue one is mandatory. Right?
    He thought that everybody was aware
    that Dinon had gone to prison because he had murdered the old President.

    TL
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Your question's still a bit confusing, TL....

    But I'll have a go;):
    What did Felix think that everyone was aware of?
    I'd normally omit the "that" here.
    The bold black 'that' in the answer is optional, isn't it? And the blue one is mandatory. Right?
    He thought that everybody was aware ...
    ... everybody was aware that Dinon had gone to prison because he had murdered the old President.
    The bold black that is optional, yes. The blue that is also optional: it's definitely not mandatory:).
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I agree.
    I'd say all three of these are optional, but the first one (the one in the question) is really better omitted, not because there exists a "rule" for it, but because we just do it that way.
    The two in the answer can both be omitted, or can both be left in, or you can take one out, but if leaving one in, I'd rather leave the blue one in than the black one.
     
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