OMST: She's all that!

My dear DemWit:

WTG on putting in a word for education, particularly “proper English grammar.” Our lackluster school systems are evidenced across the American blogosphere.

And, what sort of simpletons would make light of the Nobel Peace Prize? I tell you, honey, a couple of those wingnuts, as you call them, made me get out my smelling salts!

Right now, I’m pretty upset about that.

The word “that,” that is. So, today I’d like to mention both the unnecessary and the incorrect uses of the word, which abound on blogs!

UNNECESSARY use of the word “that:”

Rule: If the sentence reads the same without the word “that,” leave it out. Example:

Incorrect: The boy knew THAT he was in trouble.
Correct: The boy knew he was in trouble.

INCORRECT use of the word “that:”

Rule: Never use “that” when referring to a person. Examples:

Incorrect: He is a man THAT gets things done.
Correct: He is a man WHO gets things done.

Incorrect: The president is a leader THAT gets things done.
Correct: The president is a leader WHO gets things done.

Correct: I am listening to a book THAT is boring me to tears. (Very correct, it’s “The Wings of the Dove” by Henry James!)

The first cold nights of autumn put me in a romantic mood, and I’m into English novels about unrequited love.

And, that, my dear, is that!




Sue said...

oh BJ I hope it wasn't my grammer that prompted this post! lol. I know I have a terrible time and when I proofread before clicking publish its met with many deleted words! :-)))

Frodo, of the damaged digits said...

Frodo believes THAT Merry should have been a Nun in a Catholic School. Her use of THAT ruler on the knuckles is effective and painful.

bbj said...

And "that" is such an easy mistake to correct if we pay attention. :)

Good Southern Man said...

I do THAT all the time. LOL. I speak colloquially with my fingers now. Much of my communication, even with close friends, is by means of my fingers and THAT is put in the wrong place all of the time. Just call me Phalange Phil. LOL. At least I eliminated "fixin'" from my vocabulary.

I love the OMST blogs. She needs to refresh my memory on too many things. By studying languages, I come across parts of speech that are similar to that of English but cannot remember examples from English to reference it in the new language. Is there a book that you recommend for adults to refresh their English grammar with particular emphasis to cases complete with examples? I think if I had at least three good examples each, I would not have to dust off those ancient brain folders with disintegrating ink. LOL.

Great post as usual!

B.J. said...

GSM: Not sure what Old Maid School Teacher (OMST) would recommend. It might surprise you that one of the best books out there on English usage can be found at your campus bookstore or ordered online: The Associated Press Stylebook. I could use a new edition myself! I memorized the 1978 edition! It also might surprise you that the photo is of your great-great-great Grandma Holman – my mother’s grandmother! I just think she looks the perfect OMST. Love you, BJ P.S. I always spelled this word: s-e-p-e-r-a-t-e. One of my journalism profs wrote on my paper, "There is a rat in separate!" Never spelled it wrong again!

Annelle said...

THAT was a good one...next I recommend that OMST take on "John and I" vs. "John and me". Example: In a book by Pat Conroy I am reading, he says "he would take my brother, Steve, and I out into...". This just looks wrong to me on a couple of levels. What does OMST think?

B.J. said...

Annelle, you read OMST’s mind as that is her next planned letter! Stay tuned!

airth10 said...

Thanks for the lesson BJ. I have found myself misusing "that".

Tiny said...

That sounds correct to Tiny. But then there are people who we see, hear, read, and we ask ourselves, "What the hell is that?" Sets the mind spinning to try to figure out who they are and what makes them tick! Or as Keith-O says, "WTF--"

bja said...

If it's boring, bj, don't listen to it! How about this one for OMST? Where are you AT?

B.J. said...

bja!!! That’s a good one. Drives OMST crazy!!! And, GSM mentioned breaking himself of saying “fixing.” I once asked my young African-American neighbor why she says, “I’m going to MAKE groceries.” Her reply, “Well, B.J., why do you say I’m FIXING to go to the grocery store”?

As for “The Wings of the Dove,” I am finishing the last tape side this morning! I was determined to stay with it as most often classics have “redeeming social value.” Maybe I will find it on these final pages, LOL.

Must get confusing to readers: BJ, bbj and bja are three diefferent women. So glad to see your comment!