According to the answer to this question, saying "did so" is not a good choice in formal writing.

Does replacing it to "did that" make it appropriate for a formal writing? For example:

Most residents in Melbourne, Hobart, Sydney, and Brisbane visited a café for coffee or tea, at approximately 64%, 63%, 62%, and 55% respectively, whereas just under half of the residents in Adelaide did that.

  • 3
    I wholeheartedly disagree with that answer's contention that "did" and "did so" are unsuitable for formal writing. Either one is fine here. Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 18:45
  • @NuclearHoagie In addition to "did" and "did so", I can also use "did that" here? If I'm not mistaken, "did that" is the abbreviated form of "did that job" here.
    – alireza
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 18:49
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    "That" is just a pronoun referring to whatever you mentioned previously, which in this case is "visited a café for coffee or tea". It's not an abbreviated phrase. "Did that" is not grammatically incorrect or incoherent here, but it sounds less idiomatic than "did" or "did so". Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 18:59

1 Answer 1


You can use either did that or did so in both informal and formal writing. They mean the same thing and one is not more formal than the other.

For maximum clarity, you should probably repeat what that references, for example:

... whereas just under half of the residents in Adelaide visited a café for coffee or tea.

  • I've heard that repeating is a poor writing style and it decrease coherence and cohesion and we should use pronouns when ever possible provided that it doesn't add any ambiguity. Do you agree?
    – alireza
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 6:25
  • 1
    No, I totally disagree with that statement. Here the repetition provides clarity and avoids an awkward end of the sentence. Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 9:59

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