We have two types of clauses in English that are introduced with 'that.' One kind is a noun clause. The other one is the restrictive relative clause.
What Are That-clauses?
We have two types of clauses in English that are introduced with 'that.' One kind is a noun clause. The other one is the restrictive relative clause which is an adjectival clause, not a nominal one. In this lesson, we will focus on the first type.
Nominal that-clauses are finite (they have tense) sentences that start with a 'that' in front of them:
I told him
As we mentioned, nominal that-clauses act a a noun, therefore they can be:
- direct object
- subject complement
That-clauses as Subjects
Using that-clauses as subjects is somewhat uncommon in English because English speakers tend to put the verb early in the sentence, and 'long subjects' like that-clauses are usually placed at the end or replaced with a dummy it.
It is perhaps not surprising
In this case, we may not omit 'that', because 'that' marks the clause as subordinate and prevents the listener from interpreting it as the main clause.
he's only 17 appeared as a shock to me.')
Verbs Allowing That-clause as Subjects
Verbs that allow a that-clause as subjects are:
- Descriptive verbs: be + expressive adjectives, such as, clear, alarming, disgusting, etc.
- Expressive Verbs: amaze, amuse, anger, disgust, disturb, etc.
Take a look at some examples:
A singular that-clause needs a singular verb. Two (or more) that-clauses coordinated by 'and' need plural verbs.
That we are losing social values
That we are losing social values and that young people need to appreciate values
That-clauses as Direct Objects
Many types of verbs in English need a that-clause as their direct objects. The entire that-clause is a noun that usually follows a reporting verbs, such as:
- accept, realize, decide, discover, mean, say, consider
- insist, repeat, know, admit, reply, see, imagine, hope
- agree, doubt, announce, mention, assume, explain
- believe, pretend, feel, show, expect, notice, remark
- check, find (out), state, promise, suggest, claim
- forget, prove, suppose, comment, guess, think
- remember, complain, reckon, hear, understand, confirm
Now lets take a look at some examples:
In both these sentences, because that-clauses are not the subject of the clause, they can be removed from the sentence. This is sometimes called zero-that.
Reporting Verb + Indirect Object + That-clause
Some reporting verbs need two objects: one direct and one indirect. These verbs are followed by an indirect object plus a that-clause acting as the direct object. For example:
She reminded her daughter
You promised me
Reporting Verb + Prepositional Phrase + That-clause
Some reporting verbs can take a prepositional phrase as their indirect object and a that-clause as their direct object. Take a look at some examples:
Thank you for explaining to me
He mentioned to John
That-clauses as Subject Complements
That-clauses can also be used as subject complements (also called predicate nominatives or predicate nouns). We cannot omit 'that' in this usage. Examples of that-clauses as subject complements include the following:
The fact is
The problem is
We cannot use that-clauses directly after prepositions. If we have to put a that-clause after a preposition, we use the expression 'the fact' before 'that'. For example:
I'm not interested in
I am sure of