I am not quite sure how to use threaten correctly in a sentence. There's something that seems to be off, but I can't think of a better way of using it without the preposition "to" or the conjunction "that". How do you correctly use the verb?

For example:

The police threatened the armed suspect that they would shoot him.

The police threatened the armed suspect to shoot him.

  • The second form is rarely if ever used in my experience. (Hm, that's interesting.) I would use «that» if the speaker may not be the one to carry out the threat: “He threatened me that he or his pals would ambush me.” Mar 23, 2019 at 5:36

2 Answers 2


Both constructions are valid, but the construction using to is preferable. Nevertheless, there is some awkwardness in your usage of each.

Using that I would leave out the pronoun, which is redundant, and simply say:

The police threatened that they would shoot the armed suspect.

Still, the to construction works better here as well (still leaving out the redundant pronoun):

The police threatened to shoot the armed suspect.

  • Are the pronouns just redundant, or is it completely ungrammatical to include them?
    – Sayaman
    Mar 23, 2019 at 3:01
  • Not ungrammatical in the first case, just awkward. In the second ("threatened the armed suspect to shoot him") I can't really say it's ungrammatical, but I can certainly say it's awkward in the extreme. No competent speaker of English would be likely to utter that sentence, except as a mistake.
    – Robusto
    Mar 23, 2019 at 3:12

English is a language of brevity, so stylistically it`s best to use as few words as possible to convey the meaning without losing what you are trying to say. The best sentence is „The police threatened to shoot the armed suspect.“ Yes, the second sentence in the answer above is best.

  • It's best for who? Maybe for you.
    – user1425
    Nov 15, 2022 at 10:16

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