grammatical word: that


In English, we often use the word “that” to express the extent of something; it’s often used to express our feelings about something. The sentences we use that are like this are often negative. Let me give you some examples:

The movie I saw last night wasn’t that good. I was really disappointed!

Mary didn’t sing that well last night at the concert. She’s usually a good singer. I hope there’s nothing wrong with her.

These days, I’m not feeling well, and I can’t eat that much.

In these cases, the word “that” is similar to “so”. For example:

The movie I saw last night wasn’t so good.

Mary didn’t sing so well at the concert.

I can’t eat so much.

We can also use “that” when comparing our feelings about something with another person’s feelings about the same situation. We can also use it to correct someone’s mistake. For example:

A: I really loved the novel, A Song for Me. I thought it was amazing.

B: Well, I liked it, but I didn’t think it was that good.


A: You’re about 60 years old now, right?

B: No, I’m not that old. I’m only 53.


A: I heard you’re a great guitar player. Maybe you should play professionally.

B: Well, I’m good, but I’m not that good.

In these examples, the word “that” must be stressed strongly for the sentence to make sense. For exampe:

I didn’t think it was THAT good.

I’m not THAT old.

I’m good, but I’m not THAT good.

We can also use “that” in positive sentences in order to emphasize the extent of something in a positive way. For example:

I saw the movie, Inception last night and I loved it! I’m going to see it again today; it was that good!

The new video game from ABC Electronics is sold out at every store in the city; it’s that popular!

Vicky hates her ex-boyfriend! If someone even mentions his name, she gets angry; she hates him that much!

Once again, in these sentences the word “that” must be stressed or the sentence will not make sense. For example:

It was THAT good!

It’s THAT popular!

She hates him THAT much!

So when we use “that” in positive sentences in this way, there must be another sentence at the beginning to explain the situation. If we don’t do this, the sentence with “that” won’t make any sense.

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