Incorrect Form: Joan walks slowly so that her children can keep up with her.
Corrected Form: Joan walks slowly so her children can keep up with her.

To me this sentence seems to be correct but the word "that" creates an ambiguity. It was given in the exercise but no explanation was given. It might be quite simple, but kindly help because I am just starting to learn English grammar.

  • 5
    The first form is fine. What is the origin of your exercise material? – Michael Harvey May 24 '19 at 20:21
  • @MichaelHarvey: The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation by Jane Straus – Haris Rashid May 24 '19 at 20:31
  • 3
    There seem to be a few versions of this question floating around the web, and in some, what is "correct" and "incorrect" are in fact reversed. As Michael Harvey notes, however, either form is acceptable. – choster May 24 '19 at 20:39
  • The Blue Book you referenced is also a style manual. While the first sentence is technically correct, the word that is unnecessary and does not contribute to the meaning of the sentence. – user95841 May 24 '19 at 21:43
  • 1
    Re the Blue Book: "With 10 editions, you have to think that people like this book. And many seem to, including Mignon Fogarty, author of The Grammar Devotional, who wrote the introduction. But I do not." ... "One problem I have is that Straus sometimes presents a style preference for [as? - MH] a hard-and-fast rule. " Critical review includes section headed "The Hazards of Simplifying". – Michael Harvey May 24 '19 at 23:02

Both forms are perfectly correct, and neither is seriously ambiguous. Any grammar text that claims that either is "wrong" is itself seriously wrong.

The comment by ЯegDwight suggests that the form without "that" is ambiguous in that one cannot tell then if Joan's slow pace is intended to allow the children to keep up, or merely has that as an unintended effect. Technically this is true, but the first meaning, implying intent, is significantly more common.

In any case, both forms are correct and natural.

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