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“that” referring to a preceding phrase

What does “that” mean in the following sentences? Are there any rules which apply to the exact phrases which “that” refers to?

1. The graphs above show the rates of electricity generation of Kansas and “that” of the U.S. total in 2010. 

Q. Doesn’t “that” refer to “electricity generation”? If yes, isn’t “of” needed before “that”? 

2. The rate of electricity generation by nuclear power plants in Kansas was about the same as that of the U.S. total. 

Q. Doesn’t “that” refer to “the rate of electricity generation by nuclear power plants”? If yes, why is it “that in the U.S. total”, instead of “that of the U.S. total” to be parallel with in Kansas?

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Comments

"That" and "this" are commonly used (somewhat vaguely) to refer to the whole idea in the previous sentence or paragraph, so it is not surprising to find that the usage in this sentence is also somewhat imprecise.
Q1 "of" not needed here as "that" is non-specific: using "those" instead would refer specifically to "rates"
Q2 "That" in the second sentence might be construed as referring to "rate": so "of", "for" or "in" would work. Absolute parallelism not necessary for understanding here, although in general it is a good idea, and often taught as such.
That said, the questions are good ones; it is just depends on what type of document is being written. If this is for, say, a university paper and precise language is important, I might go with "those of the US in total" and "the same as that for the US as a whole".

jayles the unworthy May-31-2017

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The response displayed on your homepage reads, "That said, the questions are good ones; it is just depends on what type of document is being written."
Please proofread and then correct as follows, "That said, the questions are good ones; it just depends on what type of document is being written."

Spencer Miller Aug-01-2017

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Having read most comments,I agree that all three prepositions would work in the second sentence,though of sounds more modern so to speak.on another nore there are puzzling errors in both the questions and the comments offered.

Mike E. Karsonis Dec-29-2017

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First of all, you can't say "the U.S. total"; the proper phrase is "the entire U.S." The two numbered sentences should read:

1. The graphs above show the rates of electricity generation of Kansas and of the entire U.S. in 2010.
2. In 2010, the rate of electricity generation by nuclear power plants in Kansas was about the same as the rate for the entire U.S. [outside Kansas.]

In sentence 2, I've moved the date to the front of the sentence because otherwise it's too far from what it modifies.

That second sentence does not seem plausible, with or without the bracketed phrase. Do you mean "about the same as the rate for all other sources of energy in the entire U.S."?

In any case, I'm not tempted to use "that of" or "of that" in these sentences

Airfoyle Jan-02-2018

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In sentence 1, "that" refers to "rates of electricity generation," not simply "electricity generation." I agree with the commenter that said "those" would work; it is a plural we are talking about ("rates"). But I think "that" is fairly conventional, as used here.

For sentence 2, I am afraid we as a nation are susceptible to the same problem people experience everywhere--we think we are the center of everything and beyond us there is nothing. This is why we say "in KS," meaning that Kansas is a part of this great and total universe called the U.S., while we say "of" with respect to the U.S. total. There is no sense in our minds of the U.S. being part of anything else (such as the rest of the world). We are used to comparing parts of the U.S. to the whole. It comes with having a huge country and being a superpower. Once we compare KS to the whole country, we are done.

kellyjohnj Jan-30-2018

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Kelly's comments are quite interesting.

Heewoo Kim Jan-31-2018

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