I see this sentence in my book:

User interface configuration files like the one you just saved in the preceding section can be imported into Word 2010 and later on any other PC. Importing wipes out any customization settings on that PC, so make sure there are no customizations that you can’t reproduce that you want to keep before doing this.

I know the first that refers to customizations, but what's the second that refers to?

  • 2
    The second that also refers to customizations. It might be easier to understand if you add "and" before the second "that". Does that help?
    – gotube
    Dec 22, 2021 at 8:12
  • 1
    The first "that" refers back to customisations, but the second "that" refers to customisations that you can't reproduce (which are a specific subset of the aforementioned customisations). Dec 22, 2021 at 13:28
  • What book? Please tell us.
    – Lambie
    Dec 22, 2021 at 17:16
  • @Lambie Microsoft Visio 2016 Step By Step (Michael LaRiviere's Library)
    – Y. zeng
    Dec 23, 2021 at 1:43
  • @FumbleFingers May you confirm your idea for your idea differentiates that of gotube in comments?
    – Y. zeng
    Dec 23, 2021 at 1:44

2 Answers 2


... there are no customizations [that you can’t reproduce] [that you want to keep before doing this].

Both "thats" introduce relative clauses, as bracketed.

This is an instance of the 'stacking' of relative clauses, where an integrated relative clause combines with its antecedent to form a larger unit which is antecedent for a second integrated relative clause.

Thus that you can’t reproduce combines with its antecedent customizations to give customizations that you can’t reproduce and this is then the antecedent for the second relative clause that you want to keep before doing this.


Using parentheses to show the order of evaluation - much like in mathematics - we can notate the sentence as...

there are no ((customizations that you can’t reproduce) that you want to keep)

In this case, because both "you can't reproduce" and "you want to keep" act to narrow the set of customisations under discussion, it ultimately means there are no customisations that: 1) you can't reproduce, and 2) you do want to keep.

  • So two that are parallelstructure?
    – Y. zeng
    Dec 23, 2021 at 1:45
  • You idea differentiates that of BillJ who answered this question too.
    – Y. zeng
    Dec 23, 2021 at 1:46
  • 1
    @Tony Delroy It would better to analyse it as a 'stacked' relative construction. See my answer for details.
    – BillJ
    Dec 23, 2021 at 8:18
  • @BillJ: I appreciate your answer and upvoted it yesterday, but don't think it's very accessible or useful to language learners that need to ask such a question, so I tried to provide an explanation that was accessible. Given you also have your answer I'm not going to change mine - I think they complement each other as is. Dec 23, 2021 at 12:35
  • 1
    I'm sorry but that's no reason to post a misleading answer. If you think about it logically, the antecedent of the second "that" is not "customizations", but "customizations that you can't reproduce", hence the term 'stacking'. If a coordination is intended, the two clauses should be joined by "and", as in "customizations that you can’t reproduce and that you want to keep before doing this", though there would be a difference in meaning.
    – BillJ
    Dec 23, 2021 at 13:24

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