In my native language, Persian, we do much use "Ke" which almost corresponds to "which, who, that" in relative clauses and many other cases (maybe in conversations to start or continue a narration or relate somethings ..., I myself don't know why or where)

Then, I would like to know how much it corresponds with "that" in English and if the sentences bellow with "that" are grammatical or sensible in a conversation or not?

Ummm.... (just literal translations)

1) The students who were absent, that I prefer not to mention their names, should do this practice...

2) We were walking, that suddenly a car stopped in front of us...

3) that you said I can't catch you, OK, now you see I did that... (conversation and not usual)

4) I was reading a book that he came

5) People who (that) can't accept it, that by accident are from your country, that off course are respectable, should know ....

6) I was so happy that I started to cry.

7) However, there could be other examples that I can't think of now.

If they are not grammatical, and if you yet understand them, what would be the correct sentence for each?

  • The last one is grammatical :-)
    – user230
    Jul 27 '15 at 20:38
  • @snailboat Great! if you still can understand them, you may say what is the correct way to mention such sentences.
    – Ahmad
    Jul 27 '15 at 20:42
  • I'm not sure I understood "that you said you won't go there, ok...". The same goes for "I was reading a book that he came" Can you explain what meaning you want there? Jul 27 '15 at 20:59
  • 3
    I'm sorry, there are too many sentences and each one requires its own answer. For example, the relative clause in the first sentence is marked with commas, which tells us that we must use a relative pronoun and not the subordinator that; it also contains a resumptive pronoun, but English relative clauses standardly contain gaps. Fixing both problems: "The students who were absent, whose names I prefer not to mention, should do . . . " But this explanation doesn't apply to any of the other sentences, so I can't write a coherent answer.
    – user230
    Jul 27 '15 at 21:02
  • @snailboat I guessed so for the first sentence, interestingly in Persian, we can yet use resumptive pronoun But I think I don't mean what you wrote! It wants just to add another information, maybe as a parenthetical phrase like The students who were absent, I prefer not to mention their names, should do ..
    – Ahmad
    Jul 27 '15 at 21:10

According to Merriam dictionary, that has many usages, but those that I was interested in, and the examples are about are:

  • as relative clause
  • as conjunction to introduce a subordinate clause

In general, we can always find what "that" refers to. In the cases above it could be a thing, person (in relative clauses) or a sentence (in subordinate clauses)

So let's analyze the sentences,

The students who were absent, that I prefer not to mention their names, should do this practice...

Here that (in my intention) refers to the apposition "I prefer not to mention their names"

While the main clause for this clause is absent, the closest words I found for such structure are which or thought:

The students who were absent, which/though I don't want to mention their names, should do ...

I think the word I was looking for could be though as it is in Persian Har Chand or Har Chand Ke (something like How-ever-that) and it's probable that we shorten it in such occasion to Ke which corresponds to which and that (and now though)

if that points to the students then the correct sentence is

The student who were absent, whose names I prefer not to mention, should do this

In case 3 "that" was extra positioned, and the correct sentence could be:

3) you said that I can't catch you, but ...

I feel we do extra position in Persian to put emphasis on something, however it is also odd in Persian too.

In sentence 2 and 4, that could refer to the clauses "a car suddenly stopped in front of us" or "he came"

Here, we said about something surprising (suddenly...) then "that" can make emphasis... or maybe it is like when to point the coincidence, or even then to show the result

I also know that can be used to express the result or purpose of something like (From google):

expressing a reason or cause.

"he seemed pleased that I wanted to continue"

expressing a result.

"she was so tired that she couldn't think"

expressing a purpose, hope, or intention.

"we pray that the coming year may be a year of peace"

The case 6 is similar to expressing a result...

In all the other sentences, that refers to a sentence or clause. (And it is not much odd in English too)

  • Well, L1 to L2 transition is going to be problematic in the long run. Even though all of the languages ultimately end up being of the same root, the later revisions to them has made them very diverse; so that even the most basic sentence constructions tend to differ. Ke is like that in some ways, yet the way English treats clauses is so different from Persian, it's just wrong to try and compare them together.
    – M.A.R.
    Jul 28 '15 at 9:31
  • @inɒzɘmɒЯ.A.M, Good, you know Persian and probably can understand my problem, Ke sometimes interfer our sentence construction in English! as its translation to that sound natural to us while it might not be valid. Interestingly as I checked the usage of that discovered more similarities. Then I was doubtful if I can rely on my intuition or not! In general, Ke is something that I should find suitable constructions for it in English.
    – Ahmad
    Jul 28 '15 at 9:47
  • Ahmad the closest translation to ke in Persian is that in English. However, that by no means means their grammar is the same. Like I said, it's really good if you don't try to connect Persian and English grammar while learning. It's gonna make you prone to lots of errors in your English, which would typically be valid grammatical constructions in Persian.
    – M.A.R.
    Jul 28 '15 at 10:02
  • @inɒzɘmɒЯ.A.M I think as we have words like Zamani Ke (When), Harchand Ke (However), .... Sometimes we shorten them to just Ke and it makes the translation problematic. I agree in general we should avoid translating, but if we do, we should consider these points too
    – Ahmad
    Jul 29 '15 at 5:51

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