0

I was wondering which choice sounds correct in the following example:

  • I was walking down the street ...... I bumped into my old friend from the high school.
    a. when
    b. that

The original sentence has utilized the conjunction "when", while I think "that" can be interchanged with "when" without any change in meaning.

Please correct me if I'm mistaken and let me know which one and why is the idiomatic choice?

2
  • 1
    The "bumped" expression is an adjunct. Unlike content and relative clauses, adjuncts are not (normally) introduced by "that", but they are commonly introduced by "when". Thus "when I bumped into my old friend from the high school" is a temporal adjunct.
    – BillJ
    Oct 29 '20 at 16:54
  • 1
    "When" is the correct choiceIf you use "that", a preposition is required, either stranded at the end of the clause ("the street that I bumped into my old friend from the high school in") or fronted with "which" ("the street in which I bumped into my old friend..."). Btw, you've approved a wrong answer.
    – BillJ
    Oct 29 '20 at 17:05
2

There's a change in meaning

If you say:

I was waking down the street that I bumped into my old friend from high school.

This means you were walking down that street, and this is the street you bumped into your friend before. The relative pronoun gives detail to that street.

If you say:

I was walking down the street when I bumped into my old friend from high school.

It means you were walking, but then you bumped into your friend. This is the usual Past Continuous structure

I was doing a larger activity when a small thing interrupted me.

5
  • It's worse than that. The first example with "that" requires the preposition "in", either stranded at the end of the clause or fronted with "which" ("in which I bumped into ...").
    – BillJ
    Oct 29 '20 at 17:04
  • 1
    Also, what do you mean by 'adjective pronoun'?
    – BillJ
    Oct 29 '20 at 17:10
  • @BillJ you would probably want "on" not "in" Unless you were literally in the middle of the street and in danger of being run over by a car
    – Kevin
    Oct 29 '20 at 19:48
  • @Kevin In AmE, perhaps, but not in BrE. We Brits bump into people in streets, not on streets.
    – BillJ
    Oct 30 '20 at 7:52
  • @BillJ I didn't know it was needed to have a preposition in there, thanks for pointing it out! And I meant "relative pronoun" when I said "adjective pronoun", since relative clauses and adjectives clauses are the same thing. Now that I googled it though, I realize that saying adj pronoun doesn't refer to what I wanted to say. I'll be definitely changing that. Oct 30 '20 at 17:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.