Rules for Writers #2: About “that” . . .

So, along with The Kiss of Death, or The Word Which Shall Not Be Named, there’s another insidious word which has crept gratuitously, and rather stealthily, into English usage.

That.

Yep.  Little thing, isn’t it? But you’d be AMAZED at the number of times it pops up in all kinds of written works.  Usually unnecessary, “that” does have a rightful place among words, just as does “to be”.  Just not after every phrase or before every verb.  I believe its prevalence in speech has given it unwonted purchase in print.  But that’s neither here nor there.

Just do me, and your readers, a favor.  After you’ve written anything, run a quick search and destroy for “that”.  You might be surprised at how many times that it appears. ;o)