Submitted by markgilbert on September 24, 2005

How many thats?

A friend asked me, “how many thats can you have in a row?” If a sentence has two thats in it, you could say, “Delete this that, not that that.” (That’s two in a row.) And, he could ask, “Is that that that that you want me to delete?” There’s four, can any more make sense?

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E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.

That.

Seven “thats” may follow each other, and make sense. 1

“For be it known that we may safely write
Or say that ‘that that’ that that man wrote was right;
Nay, e’en that that that, that ‘that THAT’ has followed,
Through six repeats, the grammar’s rule has hallowed;
And that that that that that ‘that THAT’ began
Repeated seven times is right, deny’t who can.”
“My lords, with humble submission that that I say is this: That that that that that’ that that gentleman has advanced is not that that he should have proved to your lordships.”—Spectator, No. 86.

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What even is the word 'that' anymore!!!! It doesn't even look right anymore!

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No wonder I struggle learning English... I'm Norwegian and I once read that that student that that teacher was talking about was not the same student that that that that other student was talking about.
Correct me if that isn't grammatically correct and please forgive me. In just trying to learn this language.

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That that that that that that that that that that that that that is a helpful thing. This is the longest possible sequence of thats possible in a row. I dare you to find a sensical sentence with more thats.

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That that that that that identifies is that that that that that I spoke of before.

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we can conclude from that that that that that that that proved is that that
it's my homework (how many that we have?)

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Carol, I'm not sure I can do this without actually being heard aurally, but I'll try. Does this allow it to make sense?

"It remains true for all that, that THAT "that", that that "that" refers to is not the same "that", that THAT "that" refers to."

Or, in a little more detail:

"It remains true for all that [idiom], that THAT [particular] "that" [noun], that that "that" refers to is not the same "that" that THAT "that" refers to."

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Okay so this next one is like a puzzle to me. Found it on the internet, but still haven't quite figured out how to make it come out meaningful:

"It remains true for all that that that that that that that refers to is not the same that that that that refers to."

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Here goes another stab at it -

I now see that- that that 'that' that that 'that' signifies, is not that 'that' that I meant.

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Come on, people. Surely you must realize that if you write "hey I can use 12 "thats" in a row and it makes sense: that that that....", then what you are writing makes no sense at all. Even if you are successful, no one can HEAR the stress in your voice and will have NO idea WHAT parts of speech you INTEND. If you don't actually diagram the sentence somehow, or give a grammatical explanation of EACH "that" then you are just TYPING GIBBERISH! I can't believe it's even necessary to tell you all this. Wake up.

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while my 7th grade teacher taught diagramming sentences he diagammed a grammatically correct 7 thats in a row-----i only remember how it started so i need some help-----anyway it goes-------that that is is, that that is not is not, nor is that that that is that that that is not, nor is that that that that is that that that that is not--------i don't recall the rest

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I had that.

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I can get six in... and it works grammatically.

Did you know that that that that that that had had had had that that that that that had had?

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If we accept that there are two people and town named "That," then:

Now that I think about that, that "that" that John (that George, that Texas inhabitant, admire so much) used was incorrect.

Becomes:

Now that I think about that, that that "that" that That (that That, that That inhabitant, admires) used was incorrect.

Also, the sentence...

Did the editor know that that "that" that that "that" proceeded was redundant?

...can be stretched to infinity by extending it to:

Did the editor know that that "that" that that "that" that that "that" that that "that" that that "that" that that "that" (.............) that that "that" proceeded was redundant?

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You could have it set up in a list. like: THe Prince of India once said,"I would like, that that that that that that that that that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that thatthat that that that that that that that that that that that that thatthat that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that that that that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatthat that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that that thatthat that that that that that thatt hat that that that that that that that that that that that that that and that." But that wouldn't make as much sense as the first one, I guess.

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The man said that (reference to speech) that (reference to speech) that (pointing to object) word that needed to be underlined, wasn't

Can be said grammatically correct as
The man said that that that that that needed to be underlined, wasn't

5, oh yea

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i got 10 had's in a row look
Sam said rosie had had had had had had had had had had the wrong one

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Porsche,
fwiw this is what I learned in linguistics: demonstrative "that" is never pronounced /D@t/ (in SAMPA). That's all I'm saying, nothing else.

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Hmmm, James, if you had a machine that typed works and was called a 'that', you could have a hundred of them in a row. If you had a really big room. Maybe all one hundred would be on a really big table. Or maybe I could line them up on the sidewalk in front of my house. How big is a 'that'?

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This has probably already been mentioned but if you had a machine that typed works and was called a 'that', you could have 6 in a row. Did you know that that that that that that used was incorrect.

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I'm not sure I agree, John. My dictionary lists two different pronunciations of "that" but does not say anything about a correlation between which pronunciation goes with with which definition.

And while we're at it, here is a question of semantics for everyone to debate: If the dictionary lists more than one definition for a word, oh, let's say five. Does that mean there are five different words, or is it one word with five different definitions? (are you claiming, John, that, by definition, a word can only have one definition?)

PS - I could not actually read your phonetic symbols on several different PCs. I suggest you use plain text only.

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OK... they are usually pronounced differently. Relative pronoun "that" is usually pronounced [ðÉ™t] but can also be pronouned [ðæt]. Demonstrative "that" is usually pronounced [ðæt].

They are two different words. It's still fun to see how many you can put in a row.

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Thats B.S.

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"I am very disappointed that that is the best excuse you can come up with."

Note that "that" the demonstrative and "that" the relative pronoun are 2 different words. They are pronounced differently.

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I can do four (with no "references to", rather than "uses of" "that"--I agree with porsche that that makes for a much more interesting problem), but the sentence strikes me as just barely grammatical--it would be much better with the third "that" replaced by "which". I *think* it makes it over the borderline, though, although it's certainly stylistically bad:

Now that I consider that, that that that man was saying strikes me as quite reasonable.

("That which" is much more idiomatic than "that that", but if you think about the rules for "which" and "that" ["which" can be restrictive or non-restrictive; "that" must be restrictive], they indicate that either should be fine here [because "that which" is a restrictive use of "which" anyway].)

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I propose that 'that' can be repeated indefinitely.
The sentence above containing 'that 'that'' that I just wrote is grammatically correct.
The sentence above containing ''that 'that'' that' that I just wrote is grammatically correct.
The sentence above containing '''that 'that'' that' that' that I just wrote is grammatically correct.
...USW ad infinitum....

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Ok, now I can use three "that"s:
"Now that I consider that, that that is important suddenly becomes obvious."
Maybe not the best sentence, but it works.

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I noticed that everyone's examples are relying not on the grammatical use of "that" as a part of speech, but simply as a word. If I say, "where should I place that "that" in the sentence?", clearly the second "that" could be any word, and really isn't a proper use of the word "that". Yes, I know, the sentence is grammatically correct, but I could propose this sentence:

"I saw the word "that" written one hundred thousand times in a row, appearing as: that, that, that, that .... that"

There. I just used the word "that" one hundred thousand times in a row in a grammatically correct sentence. I could make it a million or a billion or arbitrarily large. I've solved the problem, but not very creatively or elegantly.

How about a more interesting approach? How many times can you use "that" in a sentence, where the word "that" is actually and properly functioning as the word "that" and NOT just as some arbitrary noun?

I can do up to two "that"s in a row:

"I am very disappointed that that is the best excuse you can come up with."

Can anyone get three? more?

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ok my lil brother came up with this one...

[00:55] : duh, yes, "Did you know that that that that that that is preceding, is the second that that in that that that sentence?"

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A landlord is getting a new sign painted for his pub, the Dog and Duck. When the sign painter sketches it out, the landlord looks at it and says:

"Can we have more space between "Dog" and "And" and "And" and "Duck" please.

Five "and"s in a row. Impressive, no?

Jesus, everyone's a critic.

http://voodoomike.blogspot.com

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o my. i am now going to go out of my way to use these sentences in a conversation.

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"Delete this that, not that that." Naw, that's redundant! "Delete this not that."

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Having two sentences is cheating ;)

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pixel8's sentence can be used to add another that (six in total):
"Did you know that that that that that that is preceding, is the second that in that sentence?"

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I think pixel8's five is as many as you can get. But this reminds me of the ten hads. James, while John had had "had", had had "had had". "Had had" had had the approval of the grammar teacher.

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It's like saying 'pan a la lavatoire" !

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I've got five, my dad told me this when I was little:
"Did you know that that that that that boy used is incorrect?"

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