3

She had eyes so far apart from each other that looking at them made me feel dizzy.

Can I omit the that in this case? Why and why not?

1
  • Notice that the subordinate clause "looking at them made me feel dizzy" is a declarative content clause, which could be used as a standalone sentence. That subordinate clause is licensed by the use of the word "so" in the main clause; notice how your example becomes ungrammatical without the "so": "She had eyes far apart from each other that looking at them made me feel dizzy". For your example, the subordinator "that" is probably necessary to prevent the reader from mis-parsing the sentence as it is being read.
    – F.E.
    Jan 10, 2015 at 7:53

1 Answer 1

3

She had eyes so far apart from each other that looking at them made me feel dizzy.

No, you cannot drop the subordinating conjunction that here. A subordinating conjunction is necessary to connect the two parts of the sentence.

Sometimes a subordinating conjunction can be dropped, but not in this case. Usually we omit a subordiating conjunction after a "reporting verb" like to tell, learn, discover, feel etc.:

She had eyes so far apart from each other! I told her (that) they made me feel dizzy. I really felt (that) they made me dizzy.

Had it been a relative pronoun, you also could've dropped it:

I felt dizzy looking into those beautiful eyes (that) she had.

Here, we can omit the relative pronoun that because it serves as the object of the relative clause "that she had".

She had what? She had [that]. (She is the subject, that is the object)

4
  • How about "She had eyes so far apart from each other comma looking at them made me feel dizzy." ?
    – Stephie
    Jan 9, 2015 at 15:21
  • @Stephie - I thought about it, but first concentrated on telling the standard reasons for omission. Would the use of a comma to split the sentence count as omission? If yes, you can post your own answer. (0: Jan 9, 2015 at 15:22
  • @CopperKettle How about? "I realized (that) I couldn't..." Can I drop the "that" in this case?
    – alexchenco
    Jan 10, 2015 at 7:33
  • 1
    @alexchenco - yes, because realize is a reporting verb Jan 10, 2015 at 7:36

You must log in to answer this question.

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