Sometimes people get overzealous about deleting every "that" they can find in a sentence. Here's why you need it sometimes.
Omitting 'That' After Nouns
If you're a native English speaker, go by your ear.
What about "that" after a noun? As with verbs, there are a few nouns that let you get away with omitting "that." Other nouns sound odd if you do it, and some nouns are downright confusing if you try deleting a "that" after them.
Some nouns that tolerate "that" omission pretty well include "possibility" and "feeling," as in "There’s a possibility we'll come to the party," and "I get the feeling we'll be there."
Nouns that sound awkward if you delete a "that" include "fact." A phrase like "the fact Squiggly likes chocolate" is clear enough, but it’s really awkward-sounding. When newspaper copy editors follow an overly zealous "that"-striking policy, we end up with clunky sentences like these examples from COCA:
- Calvert Group removed contractors Titan Corp. and CACI International from its social index over allegations they were involved in abusing Iraqi prisoners.
- The Packers haven’t drafted a quarterback despite rumors they were interested in doing so.
Again, these sentences aren’t wrong, but they would sound a lot better with "that" inserted after the nouns "allegations" and "rumors."
As with verbs, "that"-deletion after a noun isn’t always just awkward; sometimes it’s confusing. The reason is that "that" can perform two functions after a noun. First, it can introduce a relative clause (also known as an adjective clause), as in "the rumor that Fenster heard." Second, it can introduce a clause that just explains what the noun is; for example, "the rumor that Fenster started dyeing his hair."