zero vs. "that" relatives

ronbutters at AOL.COM ronbutters at AOL.COM
Mon Dec 29 20:26:07 UTC 2008

Well, how about:
> I agree with everything (that) Paul says here, but I would add, "the human drive for invariance in speech is ..."
------Original Message------
From: Arnold Zwicky
To: ronbutters at
Subject: Re: zero vs. "that" relatives
Sent: Dec 27, 2008 10:33 AM

On Dec 27, 2008, at 6:15 AM, Ron Butters wrote:

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> Poster:       ronbutters at AOL.COM
> Subject:      Re: zero vs. "that" relatives
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> I agree with everything (that) Paul says here, but I would add that
> [sic] the human drive for invariance in speech is ...

no "sic" about it.  the first, optional, "that" is a relativizer; the
second "that" is a complementizer.  like relativizer "that",
complementizer "that" alternates with zero, but it has its own set of
favoring and disfavoring factors.  Fowler says it "should not be
omitted after verbs agree, assert, assume, aver, calculate, conceive,
hold, learn, maintain, reckon, state, suggest, or when the clause is
appended to a noun like result, view, belief".  Fowler's list of verbs
requiring "that" can be extended considerably; manner-of-speaking
verbs (like "whimper") generally do so, and so does the verb "add".
there's a certain amount of variation here, but i find omission of
"that" with "add" to be distinctly odd.

many handbooks caution against omitting "that" when the verb could be
construed (temporarily) as having the following NP as its object.

“the tendency to omit that is too strong…often omitted when it should
have been used,” causing confusion, as in “He added the proposed
freeway could follow the existing route”; should be “added that” to
avoid the interpretation that he built the freeway (375)


note that Copperud's example has "added" as the verb.  though, in
fact, omitting "that" after "add" is odd even when no temporary
misconstrual is possible, as in "She added I/we should leave at noon".


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