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The following question is an exam question, and I wrote down its corrected version, but I still don't get its structure and meaning completely.

I can understand the sentence until the word that,but what is the function of the verb "to result" in it. It makes me confused because there is no cause-result relationship in the first part.

The exchange between teacher and student promotes learning far different from that which results when the student listens but does not participate.

  • It's a comparative construction that compares two kinds of learning; see my answer. – BillJ Dec 15 '16 at 17:01
  • That's good, because I was concerned about the comparative nature of the construction not having been made clear. – BillJ Dec 15 '16 at 17:31
  • @BillJ I got the sentence but I still a critic problem that I struggle to identify the clauses in complex sentences. I cannot differentiate appositive clause, relative clause, objective clause, nominative clause. – Mrt Dec 15 '16 at 18:26
  • That's a big topic, too big to be answered here. Do you have access to decent modern grammar book? – BillJ Dec 15 '16 at 18:32
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    This may help you. There are four main clause types in English: Declarative (You are very tactful.), Interrogative: (Are you very tactful? / How tactful are you?); Exclamative: (How tactful you are!) and Imperative: (Be very tactful.). – BillJ Dec 15 '16 at 19:08
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There is a causal relationship in the matrix clause.  This exchange promotes learning.  That is to say, exchange causes learning to increase.  The exchange is a cause and the increase is its result. 

Something different results when the student listens but does not participate.  We can assume this something to be some other type or degree of learning. 

that which results when the student listens but does not participate

This subordinate clause is a substantive clause or a nominative clause.  In this context, the entire clause represents one type or degree of learning.  This clause is the object of the preposition "from", and the complete prepositional phrase modifies the adjective phrase "far different". 

The explicit comparison is that the learning that results from an exchange is different than the learning that results from listening without participating.  The implicit comparison is that the former is better than the latter.

  • Thank you. By the way, when a substantive clause functions as an object, does it called objective clause? – Mrt Dec 15 '16 at 18:02
  • I may be confused between restrictive appositive clause, objective clause, relative clause and substantive clause – Mrt Dec 15 '16 at 18:06
  • ICAL would call it an object clause. Magoosh would call it a substantive clause. If you like, you can call it an objective substantive clause. It's objective because, well, it serves as an object. It's substantive because it behaves like a noun. University of Pennsylvania's Language Log would call it a content clause specifically because it is not relative. – Gary Botnovcan Dec 15 '16 at 21:12
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The Exchange between teacher and student promotes learning far different from that which results when the student listens but does not participate.

This is a "different + from" term comparison construction where the secondary term in the comparison is expressed by the complement of the preposition "from", i.e. that which results when the student listens but does not participate, where "that" is a pro-form meaning "learning". "From" is used postpositively here; thus the primary term is expressed by the nominal that precedes it, i.e. "learning", so the comparison is between:

(a) the learning promoted by exchange between teacher and student, and

(b) the learning that results when the student listens but does not participate.

Incidentally, the pro-form “that” heads the noun phrase

that [which results when the student listens but does not participate]

which contains the bracketed relative clause introduced by the relative pronoun "which".

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Let's group the words in the following way:

  1. The Exchange between teacher and student
  2. promotes learning
  3. far different from
  4. that which results
  5. when the student listens but does not participate.

This contrasts (#3) types of learning (#2): the type where both teacher and student participates actively (#1), and the type where the student doesn't participate actively (#5).

The phrase that which results (#4) serves to place the focus on the type of learning rather than the mode of (non) participation. Or more accurately, it modifies #5 to talk about the result rather than the activity. If you wish to cast this in terms of cause-and-result, consider #5 to be the cause.

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