With "that"

We can use clauses with that:

• after verbs of thinking:

  • think
  • believe
  • expect
  • decide
  • hope
  • know
  • understand
  • suppose
  • guess
  • imagine
  • feel
  • remember
  • forget

I hope that you will enjoy your holiday.
She didn’t really think that it would happen.
I knew that I had seen her somewhere before.

• after verbs of saying:

  • say
  • admit
  • argue
  • reply
  • agree
  • claim
  • deny
  • mention
  • answer
  • complain
  • explain
  • promise
  • suggest

They admitted that they had made a mistake.
She argued that they should invest more in the business.
The children complained that they had nothing to do.

Note: tell and some other verbs of saying almost always have an indirect object (see clauses, sentences and phrases). There are also some fixed expressions with tell such as tell the truth, tell a lie, tell a story, tell it like it is.

  • tell
  • convince
  • persuade
  • inform
  • remind

We tried to tell them that they should stop what they were doing.
The police informed everybody that the danger was over.

• as postmodifiers after nouns to do with thinking or saying:

  • advice
  • belief
  • claim
  • feeling
  • argument
  • hope
  • promise
  • report
  • guess
  • opinion
  • idea

He made a promise that he would do all he could to help.
I had a funny feeling that something was wrong.

• after some nouns to say more about the noun:

  • fact
  • advantage
  • effect
  • possibility
  • chance
  • danger
  • evidence
  • problem
  • difficulty

She pointed out the danger that they might be left behind.
There was a chance that we would succeed

Note: We often use a that clause to define one of these nouns after the verb be :

  • danger
  • problem
  • chance
  • possibility
  • fact

The danger is that we will be left behind.
The fact is that it is getting very late.

• after some adjectives which describe feelings to give a reason for our feelings:

  • pleased
  • sorry
  • happy
  • unhappy
  • sad
  • excited
  • glad
  • disappointed
  • afraid

I am sorry that you can’t come.
Everybody was pleased that the danger was past.
It is lucky that you were able to drive us home.

No "that"

 NOTE: We can always use a clause without the word that:

They admitted [that] they had made a mistake.
The police informed everybody [that] the danger was over.
I am sorry [that] you can’t come.
There was chance [that] we would succeed.

Exercise

Comments

Hello again Mariaida,

You're right -- 'was' is not correct in this sentence, as the subjunctive form is needed there. I'm not sure if it would be helpful or not, but the Wikipedia has a good article on the English subjunctive.

Neither do I know Italian, but if it's like Spanish or Catalan, a past subjunctive form would be used in a sentence like this one. That is not true in English -- the present subjunctive form can be used to refer to the past and the past subjunctive form is mostly used to speak about unreal situations (e.g. second conditional). This is all explained in the Wikipedia article.

I hope this helps you sort it out.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,

Regarding your point about "NOTE: We can always use a clause without the word that:", may I know if this applies to formal writing, informal writing, or both?

Thanks!

Regards,
Tim

Hello Tim,

It applies more to informal writing. In other words, leaving out the word 'that' is more common in informal contexts, though this is by no means a hard-and-fast rule -- you can find 'that' in informal writing and not find it in formal writing. But in general, it's used more in formal writing and less in informal writing. If you read some of the texts in our Writing for a purpose section, I believe you will see this is true, and it might give you a sense for what is common in academic writing.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter, talking about "that" introducing a sentence, I was reading an article today in the N.York Times on line and I found a sentence which left me a bit confused. It goes like that:
'A' did not recommend that 'B' be appointed national security adviser, preferring instead that he be slotted as director of national intelligence, a job with narrower responsabilities.

I understand the 'that' here introduces 2 'subjunctives'. Are the 2 'be' there because the sentences are passive? Would you mind to show me other possible ways (if there are any) whith the verb 'be' differently conjugated but still passive and without changing the meaning or the time (tense?) of the sentences?
Thank you,
Mariaida

Hello Mariaida,

Yes, that is exactly right: 'be' is a subjunctive form in the passive voice in this sentence. I've thought a bit about your request to transform this sentence in the way you ask, but nothing has come to mind. This doesn't necessarily mean there is no way to do it, but rather that I'm not thinking of one.

Are you curious about the passive or more about alternative ways of communicating the same idea? I'm just trying to think of a way to help you with the matter a bit more, but I'm not sure exactly what you're after.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,

I have some questions regarding a segment of your content, excerpted as follows:

"Note: tell and some other verbs of saying almost always have a direct object (see clauses, sentences and phrases). There are also some fixed expressions with tell such as tell the truth, tell a lie, tell a story, tell it like it is.
tell
convince
persuade
inform
remind

We tried to tell them that they should stop what they were doing.
The police informed everybody that the danger was over."

Firstly, i noticed that you underlined "them" and "everybody". May i know the reason why you underlined those words?

Secondly, you mentioned that "tell and some other verbs of saying almost always have a direct object (see clauses, sentences and phrases". With reference to your two sentences above, am i right to say that "them is the direct object of the transitive verb "tell" and "everbody" the direct object of the transitive verb "informed"?

Thanks!

Tim

Hi TIm,

Thanks for the question. In answering your question I took another look at the page and I saw that there is a mistake there, which I expect prompted your question. The sentence should say 'tell and some other verbs of saying almost always have an indirect object'. Most of the verbs on this page have a direct object and that object is generally a clause (introduced by 'that'). These verbs are different in that they also have an indirect object, which is the underlined item in the example sentences. I have edited the page to reflect this and correct the mistake.

Thanks again for your question. Mistakes do creep through and we are always grateful to users who help us to find them!

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,

Thanks for answering my queries and also, glad to help anytime. I see then that "them" and "everybody" are the respective indirect objects of the verbs "tell" and "informed", and that their that clauses are the direct objects. However, this seems abit "odd" to me, as it appears that "them" and "everbody" seems to be the main recipients of the verbs "tell" and "informed", as such, it seems to me that "them" and "everbody" are the direct objects instead, and that the that clauses simply follow to provide more information, in a sense. Any advice/comments on this issue?

Thanks!

Regards,
Tim

Hi Tim,

Indirect objects give us information about to whom or for whom the action is performed. If you need to identify the direct and indirect objects in a sentence then you can ask yourself the following (using 'tell' as an example):

What was told? [the information - the direct object]

Who was it told to? [the received - the indirect object]

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello there,

Isn't the following sentence an indirect speech sentence ( The doctors say that he has a week to live ) ? And in case it is, why did not you say (the doctors said that he had ...etc)?
Thank you in advance.

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