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The prince said 'Go bury the dead, and let his creditors come to my lodging, and there their debts shall be paid.' They came, in such great numbers that before night he had only twopence left for himself.

This is from English fairy tales. I can't understand the meaning of "that". Does this "that" mean "their debts"? If so, I wonder it needs "of" like "in such great numbers of that". Or is it other meaning?

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    It means so that. In this case, it is introducing an effect. Because they came in such great numbers, he only had twopence left for himself.
    – Mick
    Oct 21, 2016 at 16:55
  • Thank you for your comment. Can I omit "so"? Oct 21, 2016 at 17:10
  • Can you omit "so" from what? You can say "I had such a large number of telephone calls that I was not able to get any work done." Using "so that" in this case would sound awkward. I can't explain the rules, I'm afraid.
    – Mick
    Oct 21, 2016 at 17:15
  • You said it means "so that", so I thought this "that" is "that" omitted "so". Is the usage of "so that" and "that" same? Oct 21, 2016 at 17:20
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    Yuuichi: What @Mick means is that such that = so that. In your example, They came in numbers so great that [something was caused to happen]. Oct 21, 2016 at 17:30

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As Mick said, it is introducing an effect:

They came so quickly and in such great numbers, to have him pay their debts, that before night he had only twopence left for himself.

The approaching wave hit with such force that it broke the dyke.

Her scream was so loud and high pitched that it shattered windows a half mile away.

He used so many words that by the time he was finished, he'd run out of them entirely.

That's what the word that does, unless you're using it like that. Is that clear enough? (Wow, isn't that something; English is quite a beast. And that's that.)

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    "He used so many words that by the time he was finished, he'd run out of them entirely." I know exactly how that feels. Well done!
    – Mick
    Oct 21, 2016 at 17:39
  • "That" is a meaningless subordinator whose function is to introduce the subordinate content clause that before night he had only twopence left for himself .The adverb 'such' licenses the content clause which expresses the result of them coming in such great numbers.
    – user36764
    Oct 21, 2016 at 18:29

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