Is that a correctly spelled sentence?

“That” or “that”? So you're always right

The two words the and that It really isn't easy: Both are pronounced the same, and they are also available in a total of four parts of speech. Confusion is guaranteed. But you can easily find out about the different functions of the words.

The difference between "that" and "that"

The word the exists as a definite article and as a pronoun, whereby the pronominal usage can be further distinguished:

  • Definite article: The car is new.
  • Relative pronoun: The car I'm talking about is new.
  • Demonstrative pronouns: You can not be serious.

The word that on the other hand there is only a conjunction:

  • Conjunction: That the car is new, I thought to myself.

These are different parts of speech with different functions: Articles always appear as a companion to nouns, pronouns, on the other hand, can also replace nouns. Conjunctions, in turn, connect sentences or parts of sentences with one another. But how do you find out which spelling is correct in your specific example sentence - the or that?

Do the test!

With a simple replacement sample, you can always find out whether it is in a certain sentence the or that must mean: If the word in question gets through this), that or which one can replace, then it is the with simple s. If the word cannot be replaced, then it is that with doubles, so a conjunction.

As an article and pronoun can the always be replaced:

  • The car is new. Replacement sample: This car is new.
  • The car I'm talking about is new. Replacement sample: The car I'm talking about is new.
  • You can not be serious. Replacement sample: You are not serious.

The conjunction that can never be replaced:

  • That the car is new, I thought to myself. Replacement sample: * This / which / that the car is new, I thought to myself.

By the way: The conjunction that was with until the spelling reform in 1996 ß written, since then the spelling has been *that no longer correct.

You can also find quick advice on questions like this in our First Aid and “Quite simply!” Series. If you want to know more, you will find a comprehensive presentation of German grammar in Volume 4 of our series of twelve.