You need something to look forward to. To light up your heart. To forget that you’re walking in the dark. Sure, sometimes you’ll discover (that) that something doesn’t exist. But so what? That light already helped you to get through the day."

Do I need one ‘that’ or two in the sentence above? Why or why not?

  • 1
    You accepted an answer which explained whether you needed one or two that words. If you would also like to know whether alternative forms exist, which avoid using a double ‘that’, then you may be interested in reading some answers here: Is there a way to avoid saying 'that that'? – can-ned_food Jun 16 '17 at 15:59
  • With reference to @can-ned_food's comment: "... that this something" works here. – Lawrence Jun 16 '17 at 23:36
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    Here's a related post on EL&U. – Lawrence Jun 16 '17 at 23:41

In your sentence you need a double that to make the meaning clear.

Note first that the word that is often elided without impacting on the meaning, so that:

You'll discover that something doesn't exist


You'll discover something doesn't exist

However, if you elide the second that in your sentence, you do change the meaning. At present your sentence is saying:

...you'll discover that the particular something concerned doesn't exist.

If you leave out the second that, the meaning changes to:

...you'll discover that something doesn't exist.

This second sentence fails to clarify which something you are referring to.


  • +1 We posted within about a minute of each other but yours came out first :) . My answer says pretty much the same thing, so I'm deleting mine in favour of yours. – Lawrence Jun 16 '17 at 14:07
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    @Lawrence Your'e a gentleman. I shall follow your example if the situation is ever reversed. – Ronald Sole Jun 16 '17 at 16:47

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