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I have a terrible habit of saying "that that"; what words can I use to mitigate this? Here are two examples:

I believe that that movie was immoral.

I went to Walgreens and found out that that lotion you were talking about is no longer on sale.

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    It's fine. If you'd like to avoid it anyway, the first that is omissible in both examples. It's not a double negative, by the way. – snailcar Apr 2 '15 at 2:45
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    Another "simple fix" is to change the second that to the: I believe that the movie was immoral. I found out that the lotion you told me about is no longer on sale. Not only that, saying "that that" is nowhere near as embarrassing as say "do do", which is something I do do more often than I'd like! – J.R. Apr 2 '15 at 8:34
  • In American English, it's typical to say "that that" so that it sounds like th't that or thut that. The vowel on the first "that" is very brief and the vowel on the second "that" is /æ/. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Apr 2 '15 at 10:54
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Where's the double negative? There isn't one.

To include 'that that' is okay. In fact, in some cases, it's necessary. For example (from COCA):

He doesn't understand that that is a fundamental issue that is facing this country - ABC_Thisweek

However, as snailboat says, the first that is omissible.


You might be surprised to see this example with 7 thats. It still makes sense!

It is true for all that that that that that that that refers to is not the same that that that that refers to

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    It's unlikely anyone will be able to make sense of the seven-that example without some assistance, though. If any ELLers are reading this and have trouble, take heart: native speakers have just as much trouble! :-) – snailcar Apr 2 '15 at 5:44
  • To make them understand, I provided a link. It makes it clear @snailboat – Maulik V Apr 2 '15 at 6:28
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    We'll be doing our 7 'had's exercise next, or 10 if you allow a semi-colon ;-) – Tetsujin Apr 2 '15 at 8:26
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    I'd argue that that 7-that example does not make sense – at least, not with out the proper use of punctuation, including quotation marks or italics: It is true for all that, that that that that that that refers to is not the same that that that that refers to. – J.R. Apr 2 '15 at 8:39
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    @ssav - Yeah, I can stretch to 11 too, now i think about it – Tetsujin Apr 2 '15 at 13:03
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In most cases you don't actually need both of them. You are using the word "that" as both a determiner (specifying which movie/lotion), and as a conjunction. However the conjunction form is not necessary in many cases, so you could omit it. Furthermore there are other determiners you could you - like "the" or "this" when appropriate.

For example:

[I believe] +that+ [that movie was immoral.]

The "that" joins "I believe" with a description of the belief "that movie was immoral". However you don't really need the conjunction.

I also notice that, when spoken, many people using the conjunction form of "that" will say it differently. Often they pronounce it as "thet" or "thit" or almost as if it contained no vowel "tht", and put more emphasis on the second "that". Like:

I believe tht that movie was immoral.

So when spoken at least, they don't sound like they stuttering.

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As stated in previous answers, it is true that the second that is often unnecessary, and it is also true that using them both is not incorrect, but there is a simple way to avoid using it twice. Simply replace the second one with "the."

I believe that the movie was immoral.
I went to Walgreens and found out that the lotion you were talking about is no longer on sale.

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