Meaning of THAT in English


I. that 1 S1 W1 /ðæt/ BrE AmE determiner , pronoun

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: thæt ]

1 . ( plural those /ðəʊz $ ðoʊz/) used to refer to a person, thing, idea etc that has already been mentioned or is already known about:

‘You never cared about me.’ ‘That’s not true.’

I wish you wouldn’t say things like that.

What did you do with those sandwiches?

Victoria Street? That’s where my sister lives.

Do you remember that nice Mr Hoskins who came to dinner?

I’ve got that pain in my back again.

He killed a man once and that’s why he had to leave Ireland.

‘We’ve been cheated,’ she said. Those were her exact words.

‘I have to go,’ she said, and with that (=after saying that) she hung up the phone.

2 . /ðət/ used after a noun as a ↑ relative pronoun like ‘who’, ‘whom’, or ‘which’ to introduce a ↑ clause :

There are lots of things that I need to buy before the trip.

the people that live next door

They’ve got a machine that prints names on badges.

the greatest boxer that ever lived

Who was it that said ‘The Law’s an Ass’?

The day that my father died, I was on holiday in Greece.


That is often left out when it is the object of the verb in the relative clause:

They have not kept the promises they made

(= that they made).

► That can only be used as a relative pronoun to specify a person or thing, not to add extra information. When adding extra information, use who or which :

She had to look after her husband, who was ill.

3 . ( plural those /ðəʊz $ ðoʊz/) formal used to refer to a particular person or thing of the general type that has just been mentioned:

In my opinion, the finest wines are those from France.

that of

His own experience was different from that of his friends.

4 . those who people who:

There are those who disapprove of all forms of gambling.

Those who saw the performance thought it memorable.

5 . at that used after adding a piece of information which emphasizes and increases what you have just said:

You should be able to answer the question in a single sentence, and a short one at that.

6 . that is (to say) used to give more exact information about something or to correct a statement:

One solution would be to change the shape of the screen, that is, to make it wider.

Languages are taught by the direct method, that is to say, without using the student’s own language.

I loved him – that is, I thought I did.

• • •


7 . ( plural those ) used to refer to a person or thing that is not near you:

Is that my pen you’ve got there?

That’s Eileen’s house across the road.

Look at those men in that car. What on earth are they doing?

Our tomatoes never get as big as that.

8 . that’s life/men/politics etc (for you) used to say that something is typical of a particular group of people, situation etc:

I don’t think I was fairly treated, but then that’s life, isn’t it?

We go out for a romantic meal and all he wants to do is talk about football. That’s men for you.

9 . that’s it

a) used to say that something is completely finished or that a situation cannot be changed:

That’s it, then. There’s nothing more we can do.

b) used to tell someone that they are doing something correctly:

Slowly ... slowly. Yeah, that’s it.

c) ( also that does it ) used when you are angry about a situation and you do not want it to continue:

That’s it. I’m leaving.

10 . that’s that used to emphasize that a situation or a decision cannot be changed:

I refuse to go and that’s that!

There’s no money left, so that’s that.

11 . used when you are not sure who is answering the telephone:

Hello, is that Joan Murphy?

12 . and (all) that British English and similar things:

I knew he was interested in computers and all that.

13 . that’s a good girl/that’s a clever dog etc used to praise a child or animal

14 . that is not an option used when you want to emphasize that something that has just been suggested is not acceptable to you

II. that 2 S1 W1 /ðət/ BrE AmE conjunction

1 . used after verbs, nouns, and adjectives to introduce a ↑ clause which shows what someone says or thinks, or states a fact or reason:

If she said that she’d come, she’ll come.

I can’t believe that he’s only 17.

Are you sure that they live in Park Lane?

allegations that he is guilty of war crimes

The fact that he is your brother-in-law should not affect your decision.

He might have left the money for the simple reason that he didn’t know it was there.


That is sometimes left out after verbs and adjectives, and occasionally after nouns, especially in speech:

He said it would be much too dangerous.

I’m not surprised you were upset.

2 . used after a phrase with ‘so’ or ‘such’ to introduce a ↑ clause that shows the result of something:

I was so tired that I fell asleep.

The school was so badly damaged that it had to be pulled down.

We had been away for such a long time that I had forgotten her name.

3 . used to introduce a ↑ clause that refers to a fact, when describing it:

It’s odd that I haven’t heard of you.

That anyone should want to kill her was unthinkable.

The problem is that no-one knows what will happen.

4 . formal in order that something may happen or someone may do something:

Give us strength that we may stand against them.

5 . literary used to express a wish for something to happen or be true, especially when this is not possible:

Oh, that she were alive to see this!

⇨ so (that) at ↑ so 2 (2)

III. that 3 S1 W2 /ðæt/ BrE AmE adverb [+ adjective/adverb]

1 . spoken used to say how big, how much etc, especially when you are showing the size, amount etc with your hands:

It was quite a large fish – about that long.

He missed hitting the car in front by that much.

2 . [usually in negatives] spoken as much as in the present situation or as much as has been stated:

I’m sorry, I hadn’t realized the situation was that bad.

No one expected it to cost that much.

The advanced exam is more difficult, but not many students progress that far.

3 . not (all) that long/many etc spoken used to mean fairly short, only a few etc:

Will’s not that tall, considering he’s 16.

The film wasn’t all that good.

4 . British English spoken informal used to emphasize how big, bad, much etc something is:

I was that embarrassed I didn’t know what to say.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.