This is a sentence from a person's regret about being born. The sentence is:

"Not a week goes by THAT I don’t wish I was never born."

I understand the sentence, but I am not quite sure about the grammar. The word "THAT" is describing the word "a WEEK", so the word "THAT" is functioning as a relative pronoun.

Since he regrets about this life every week, the regret is experienced in or during every week, which requires a relative pronoun "WHEN", not "THAT", doesn't it?

So, my question is, should the sentence have been as follows:

"Not a week goes by WHEN I don’t wish I was never born."


  • 1
    No: however you analyse the that clause, "that" is not a relative pronoun and thus is not anaphoric. The "that" found in relative clauses and declarative content clauses is a subordinator functioning as a meaningless marker of subordination.
    – BillJ
    Commented Aug 7, 2022 at 14:36

1 Answer 1


Not a week goes by [THAT I don’t wish I was never born ___].

That bracketed expression is a relative clause in which "that" is not a relative pronoun but a meaningless subordinator functioning as a marker.

The relativised element is represented by gap '___' (interpreted as "when"), and it's this that has "week" as antecedent.

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