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In this sentence "I once read that 'The beauty of life is its change' and that 'the act of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings', can I omit the two "that"?

Thank you very much!

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There are two "thats" in the sentence.

As CocoPop points out, eliminating the first "that" makes the sentence ambiguous, especially if spoken. It is more idiomatic to leave the first "that" in.

The second "that" is optional, but omitting it would change the way the sentence is perceived.

If you include the first "that" it sounds like you are discussing two separate concepts, which might or might not have come from the same source. For example:

I read that "it was the best of times" and that "the end justifies the means."

If you leave out the second "that," it tends to imply a closer connection between the two things you read:

I read that "it was the best of times" and "it was the worst of times."

This is not a hard-and-fast rule, but it is a shade of meaning. Given the close relationship between the phrases in your example, omitting the second "that" probably makes sense.

Finally, a warning about quotes. Use quotes in English only when you are literally quoting something that you read. I can't be sure, but to me it sounds like you're paraphrasing, rather than quoting--and the exact phrases you're quoting don't show up in a Google search. If in fact you're giving the gist of what was written rather than the literal words of the author--even if you're only paraphrasing a little bit--do not use quotation marks. In that case, you would write:

I once read that the beauty of life is its change, and the act of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.

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You could omit "that," but then (at least) the first quote looks like it may be a title of a song, movie, or novel. It is definitely better with the two that's.

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  • Great question!
    – CocoPop
    Jul 23 '14 at 14:25

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