I'm reading a book and I see that in one of the sentence it doesn't use in conjunction "that". Therefore I'm a little confused about this topic- where I need to put conjunction and where not.

I'm afraid your luggage is ten kilos overweight; you will have to pay extra.

Before I saw it I would write it as follow:

I'm afraid that your luggage is ten kilos overweight; you will have to pay extra.

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  • Inserting images of scanned text is discouraged since is it not searchable. It would be far better if you changed it to typed text.
    – Mick
    Oct 30, 2016 at 8:28
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    I put both as you an see. Oct 30, 2016 at 8:33

2 Answers 2


A that-clause can be used in several ways.

I think that he is lying - following a verb

I am sure that he is lying - following an adjective

I know the reason that he is lying - following a noun

In all of these cases, the that can be omitted. It is much more likely to be omitted in spoken English than in written English. Uneducated people are more likely to omit it than educated people. In spoken English,

  • it is usually omitted after a verb
  • it is frequently omitted after an adjective
  • it is occasionally omitted after a noun.
  • I wouldn't say the speaker or the author of the example sentence is uneducated at all. E.g. "I'm afraid your luggage..." sounds perfectly correct.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 30, 2016 at 11:24
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    Uneducated people are more likely to omit it than educated people which implies it is common, and uneducated, to omit "that" in sentences. Can you support your statement that uneducated people are more likely not to utter "that" than educated people?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 30, 2016 at 12:05
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    @JavaLatte who did, then?
    – Dan Getz
    Oct 30, 2016 at 15:34
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    This answer doesn't mention when the word "that" is required. It is optional when the "that" merely introduces the clause, as in "[that] your luggage is ten kilos overweight". It is optional when it represents the object of the subordinate clause, as in "an answer [that] I understand". It is required when it represents the subject of the subordinate clause, as in "a question that is useful". Oct 30, 2016 at 15:39
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    @GaryBotnovcan: the question specifically refers to the usage of that as a conjunction (introducing a clause). The other possiblilities that you mentioned are usages of that as a relative pronoun. Omission of relative pronouns is covered in this link: esl.fis.edu/grammar/rules/relative.htm
    – JavaLatte
    Oct 30, 2016 at 16:03

I don't know what the general rules are. I agree with the other answer that in many cases you can either use that or leave it out, and it doesn't change the meaning or grammaticality. But I think I can help answer for the example you gave. I think it is somewhat of a special case. The phrase "I'm afraid [that]" has two different meanings:

  1. I feel fear that it could be the case, but do not know if it is or not
  2. Unfortunately, it is the case that

In your example sentence, it's clearly the second meaning, because the speaker knows it to be true. They're expressing their regret, not fear.

Each of these meanings can be expressed both with or without the word that, but I think the word that is used more often with the first meaning than with the second. That is, if you want to say:

Unfortunately, your luggage is overweight.

It is more common to say:

I'm afraid your luggage is overweight.

You can say it like:

I'm afraid that your luggage is overweight.

But when I see or hear that, I'm likely to think of the first meaning, where the speaker is unsure and feels fear.

  • Good point. I have just done a quick search on Google books for 'afraid that' and I can confirm that it's predominantly (by about 10 to 1) fear rather than regret. This is specific to afraid, though, and the OP is asking about omission of that in general.
    – JavaLatte
    Oct 30, 2016 at 15:18
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    @JavaLatte right, I wasn't trying to give a full answer to the question. Just wanted to add information about the situation given in the question. I'll try to edit to make that clear.
    – Dan Getz
    Oct 30, 2016 at 15:36

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