that

1 of 5

pronoun (1)

ˈt͟hat How to pronounce that (audio)
t͟hət
plural those ˈt͟hōz How to pronounce that (audio)
1
a
: the person, thing, or idea indicated, mentioned, or understood from the situation
that is my father
b
: the time, action, or event specified
after that I went to bed
c
: the kind or thing specified as follows
the purest water is that produced by distillation
d
: one or a group of the indicated kind
that's a cat—quick and agile
2
a
: the one farther away or less immediately under observation or discussion
those are maples and these are elms
b
: the former one
3
a
used as a function word after and to indicate emphatic repetition of the idea expressed by a previous word or phrase
he was helpful, and that to an unusual degree
b
used as a function word immediately before or after a word group consisting of a verbal auxiliary or a form of the verb be preceded by there or a personal pronoun subject to indicate emphatic repetition of the idea expressed by a previous verb or predicate noun or predicate adjective
is she capable? She is that
4
a
: the one : the thing : the kind : something, anything
the truth of that which is true
the senses are that whereby we experience the world
what's that you say
b
those plural : some persons
those who think the time has come

that

2 of 5

conjunction

t͟hət,
ˈt͟hat How to pronounce that (audio)
1
a(1)
used as a function word to introduce a noun clause that is usually the subject or object of a verb or a predicate nominative
said that he was afraid
(2)
used as a function word to introduce a subordinate clause that is anticipated by the expletive it occurring as subject of the verb
it is unlikely that he'll be in
(3)
used as a function word to introduce a subordinate clause that is joined as complement to a noun or adjective
we are certain that this is true
the fact that you are here
(4)
used as a function word to introduce a subordinate clause modifying an adverb or adverbial expression
will go anywhere that he is invited
b
used as a function word to introduce an exclamatory clause expressing a strong emotion especially of surprise, sorrow, or indignation
that it should come to this!
2
a(1)
used as a function word to introduce a subordinate clause expressing purpose or desired result
cutting down expenses that her son might inherit an unencumbered estateW. B. Yeats
(2)
used as a function word to introduce a subordinate clause expressing a reason or cause
rejoice that you are lightened of a loadRobert Browning
(3)
used as a function word to introduce a subordinate clause expressing consequence, result, or effect
are of sufficient importance that they cannot be neglectedHannah Wormington
b
used as a function word to introduce an exclamatory clause expressing a wish
oh, that he would come
3
used as a function word after a subordinating conjunction without modifying its meaning
if that thy bent of love be honorableWilliam Shakespeare

that

3 of 5

adjective

plural those
1
a
: being the person, thing, or idea specified, mentioned, or understood
b
: being the one specified
usually used for emphasis
that rarity among leaders
that brother of yours
c
: so great a : such
2
: the farther away or less immediately under observation or discussion
this chair or that one

that

4 of 5

pronoun (2)

t͟hət,
ˈt͟hat How to pronounce that (audio)
1
used as a function word to introduce a restrictive relative clause and to serve as a substitute within that clause for the substantive modified by the clause
the house that Jack built
I'll make a ghost of him that lets meWilliam Shakespeare
2
a
: at which : in which : on which : by which : with which : to which
each year that the lectures are given
b
: according to what : to the extent of what
used after a negative
has never been here that I know of
3
a
archaic : that which
b
obsolete : the person who
that, which, or who?: Usage Guide

In current usage that refers to persons or things, which chiefly to things and rarely to subhuman entities, who chiefly to persons and sometimes to animals. The notion that that should not be used to refer to persons is without foundation; such use is entirely standard. Because that has no genitive form or construction, of which or whose must be substituted for it in contexts that call for the genitive.

That vs. Which: Usage Guide

Although some handbooks say otherwise, that and which are both regularly used to introduce restrictive clauses in edited prose. Which is also used to introduce nonrestrictive clauses. That was formerly used to introduce nonrestrictive clauses; such use is virtually nonexistent in present-day edited prose, though it may occasionally be found in poetry.

that

5 of 5

adverb

1
: to such an extent
a nail about that long
2
: very, extremely
usually used with the negative
did not take the festival that seriouslyEric Goldman
Phrases
all that
: everything of the kind indicated
tact, discretion, and all that
at that
1
: in spite of what has been said or implied
2
: in addition : besides entry 2

Examples of that in a Sentence

Adjective She twisted it this way and that way. Adverb “It was the worst movie that I have ever seen.” “Was it really that bad?” “Yes, it was that bad.” What would you do with that much money? “Don't go over the speed limit.” “Does the car even go that fast?” I didn't realize the book was that long. I need a nail about that long. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Adverb
There was limited heat when Ripley was on the defensive, probably because fans don’t want to see Rhea sell that much especially in Australia. Alfred Konuwa, Forbes, 24 Feb. 2024 Get your golf clubs ready – your mini-golf clubs, that is. Jolene Almendarez, The Enquirer, 23 Feb. 2024 Peering into the heart of the debris left behind by the star’s demise, astronomers led by Claes Fransson of Stockholm University in Sweden spied hints of ionized argon and sulfur—that is, evidence of elements that were so shocked by some external force that their electrons had been stripped away. Jonathan O'Callaghan, Scientific American, 23 Feb. 2024 So that raises the question: Is a butt wink really that bad? Christa Sgobba, SELF, 22 Feb. 2024 The land subsided, or sank, by an average of 1 to 2 millimeters a year, but some counties in Delaware, Maryland, South Carolina and Georgia saw their land sink twice or three times that fast. Caitlin O'Kane, CBS News, 21 Feb. 2024 All, that is, except one boy, who caught sight of De La Haye in the crowd. Ct Jones, Rolling Stone, 12 Feb. 2024 In addition, three-quarters of the board has annual household incomes of over $200,000, while less than half of La Jolla overall has incomes that high. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Feb. 2024 These earbuds have a slightly larger driver unit (that is, the component that produces sound) than Apple AirPods, which lends to smooth, stereo-quality audio. Olivia Young, Travel + Leisure, 9 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'that.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Pronoun (1)

Middle English, from Old English thæt, neuter demonstrative pronoun & definite article; akin to Old High German daz, neuter demonstrative pronoun & definite article, Greek to, Latin istud, neuter demonstrative pronoun

Pronoun (2)

Middle English, from Old English thæt, neuter relative pronoun, from thæt, neuter demonstrative pronoun

First Known Use

Pronoun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Conjunction

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Adjective

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Pronoun (2)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adverb

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of that was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near that

Cite this Entry

“That.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/that. Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

that

1 of 5 pronoun
plural those (ˈ)t͟hōz How to pronounce that (audio)
1
a
: the person, thing, or idea shown, mentioned, or understood from the situation
that is my father
b
: the time, action, or event specified
after that I went to bed
c
: the kind or thing specified as follows
the purest water is that produced by distillation
2
: the one farther away
those are elms and these are maples
3
: the one : the thing : the kind
the richest ore is that found higher up

that

2 of 5 conjunction
1
a
used to introduce a noun clause serving especially as the subject or object of a verb
that she has succeeded is certain
said that I was afraid
the reason for his absence is that he is ill
b
used to introduce a clause that modifies a noun or adjective
certain that this is true
the fact that you are here
c
used to introduce a clause that modifies an adverb or adverbial expression
will go anywhere that he is invited
2
used alone or after so or in order to introduce a clause expressing purpose
saved money so that I could buy a bicycle
3
used to introduce a clause giving a reason
delighted that you could visit
4
used especially after an expression including the word so or such to introduce a clause naming a result
worked so hard that they became exhausted

that

3 of 5 adjective
t͟hət,
(ˌ)t͟hat
plural those
1
: being the one named or understood
that boy did it
2
: being the one farther away
this chair or that one

that

4 of 5 pronoun
t͟hət How to pronounce that (audio)
(ˌ)t͟hat
1
: who, whom, which entry 2
the girl that smiled
the person that you spoke to
the house that Jack built
2
: at, in, or on which : by, to, or with which
each year that the awards are given

that

5 of 5 adverb
1
: to such an extent
need a nail about that long
2
: very entry 2 sense 1, extremely
it's not that important

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