I have what I thought that I wanted.


I have what I thought I wanted.

I'm not sure if I used "that" correctly in the first sentence.

I know that "that" gets used as a relative pronoun instead of who, whom or which to refer to people,animals and things. In my case I talked about a goal that I had but achieving it didn't gave me the peace I hoped for.

My question is indeed technical because I just want to know if it is wrong to say: "I have what I thought that I wanted."

Because Google-translate translates the sentence differently from my native language: "I have what I thought I wanted."

I'm just wondering if my phrasing was correct?

Additionally, Google-translate changed "have" to "got" when I tried the translation again - a minute ago. Perhabs "have" is also wrong? It seems right to me. I quote a source:

"Though “have” and “got” both refer to possession, the possession could be expressed in different forms... “Have” shows ownership of something."

I "own" my achievement would make sense to me although it sounds a bit weird :D Like something out of a motivational talk...

PS: I didn't use Google-translate to write my "edit", please correct any mistakes that I made if you have the time and kindness :)

  • Please indicate what research you've done. For example, can you identify how "what" and "that" function in this sentence? Can you identify the clauses? Providing more information will make it easier for people to provide good answers. Feb 1, 2023 at 22:21
  • You're absolutely right, sry I was under time pressure and a bit lazy as well. I added additional information in my post :) Feb 2, 2023 at 7:47

1 Answer 1


You can include "that", although I think that the sentence sounds more natural without it.

There is no single correct way to parse the sentence, but I'd say that "what I thought [[that]] I wanted" is a nominal clause functioning as the direct object of "have". We could move the pronoun to the end of the clause to make it a main clause:

I thought [[that]] I wanted it.

(I aso changed the pronoun to "it" because we don't need an interrogative pronoun here.)

We can now see that "that" is a subordinating conjunction, and in constructions such as this one, it may be included or omitted.

Note that if you parse this sentence differently (for example, considering "I thought" to be parenthetical), then including "that" may not be grammatical:

*I have what (I thought) that I wanted.

Yes, you can change "have" to "got":

I got what I thought [[that]] I wanted.

However, the meaning of "to have" is different from that of "to get", and the tense is also different. Therefore, the sentences say somewhat different things.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .