What Part of Speech is “That”


The word “THAT” can be used as a Definite Article, a Conjunction, an Adverb, Pronoun, and Adjective. Take a look at the definitions and examples below to learn how “THAT” works as different parts of speech.

  1. Definite Article

That” is classified as a definite article when it is used to indicate something/someone specific that the listeners or readers already know. For instance, read the sample sentence below:

“Pick up that book on the floor.”

The person being talked to knows exactly what “book” the speaker is referring to.


a. refers to a specific person or thing, assuming that the person being addressed understands or is familiar with it

  • Examples:
  • Look at that old woman
  • She lived in New York at that time.
  • Where is that friend of yours?


  2.   Conjunction

Sometimes, “that” can also serve as a conjunction by combining two clauses. For instance, in the sentence:

“I bought the materials that are required for the project.”

That“ is used to introduce the clause “…are required for the project.” It combines the dependent clause with the independent clause, “I bought the materials…”


a. used to introduce a clause that is the subject or object of a verb

  • Examples:
  • He said that he was hungry.


b. used to introduce a clause that completes or explains the meaning of a previous noun or adjective or of the pronoun it

  • Examples:
  • She was so exhausted that she couldn’t think straight.


c. used to introduce a clause that states a reason or purpose

  • Examples:
  • The boss seems pleased that I wanted to pursue with the training.

  3.   Adverb

The word can also be used as an adverb, especially in verbal communication. It is normally used to show the intensity of a particular adjective. Take for example the sentence below:

“He is that old.

In this sample sentence, the word “that” somehow intensifies and shows the degree of the adjective “old.”


a. to the degree that is stated or suggested

  • Examples:
  • It wasn’t that difficult.


b. to the degree or extent indicated by a gesture

  • Examples:
  • She wouldn’t go that far.


c. to a great degree

  • Examples:
  • It was that wide, perhaps even wider.


  4.   Pronoun

In some cases, the word “that” also functions as a freestanding pronoun. Look at the sample sentence below:

That’s exactly what I thought.”

It can be presumed that the word that is representing or replacing a specific thought.


a. used to identify a specific person or thing observed by the speaker

  • Examples:
  • That is my brother with a new car.


b. referring to a specific thing previously mentioned, known, or understood

  • Examples:
  • It’s not as bad as all that.
  • All the people that were left behind became infected with the virus.


  5.   Adjective

The word “that” functions as an adjective when it is used to modify a noun. It is also useful in clarifying which noun the speaker is referring to in the sentence. Take for example, the sentence below:

That cat is so adorable.”

The word that modifies “cat” by emphasizing that it is the particular noun being referred to.


a. used to indicate which person, thing, or idea is being shown, pointed to, or mentioned

  • Examples:
  • That building is the oldest in the city.
  • Do you want this bag or that one?


b. used to indicate the one that is farther away or less familiar

  • Examples:
  • I don’t know how it got that way.
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