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What kind of clause is the bolded part in the following sentence ?

Modern science has given clear evidence that smoking can lead to many diseases.

Is it object clause or substantive clause or appositive clause or restrictive attributive clause or relative clause ?


I am confused if the clause follows the word that in the sentence defines the noun evidence or if I should classify it separately. In both cases, I cannot name it.

  • It's a content clause (sometimes wrongly called a noun clause). It is introduced by the clause subordinator "that" (which is part of the clause), and its functions is complement to the noun phrase "evidence". – BillJ Dec 15 '16 at 19:31
  • Btw, forget the term "substantive clause". It's nonsense and is not used at all in modern grammar. Where did you see it used? – BillJ Dec 15 '16 at 20:05
  • @BillJ maybe you heard them as nominal clauses. I read it as substantive clause on a few source on the internet but I cannot differentiate between object clauses and nominal clauses..I will ask another question to make it clearer – Mrt Dec 15 '16 at 20:30
  • It's a dependent clause: it can't be cracked off to stand by itself. It depends on the preceding clause for meaning. The "that" is called a "conjunctive preposition", I think, because, while having no meaning itself, it binds two clauses together into a single declaration or question. – MMacD Dec 15 '16 at 20:45
  • @MMacD No, as I've already said, "that" is a clause subordinator used for introducing subordinate content clauses. – BillJ Dec 15 '16 at 22:03
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Is it an object clause?  No.  It doesn't (on its own) serve as an object.  The entire phrase "clear evidence that smoking can lead to many diseases" serves as the complete object of the verb "has given".  If we care about such things, the so-called simple object is the noun "evidence". 

Is it a relative clause?  No.  Although the word "that" can be a relative pronoun, that isn't the way it behaves in this sentence.  It doesn't serve any role within the clause "smoking can lead to many diseases".  Instead, the word "that" simply marks the following clause as a content clause. 

Is it an appositive clause?  No.  If it were an appositive, then "clear evidence" and "that smoking can lead to many diseases" would be two different ways of describing the same referent.  In this case, the content clause refers to something which the evidence supports, not something which the evidence is
 

Is it substantive or attributive?  Since it describes an attribute of the evidence, I find the attributive label to be more sensible in this context.  On its own, the clause could be substantive.  In another sentence it might serve as a subject or an object.  In this sentence, it restricts the meaning of the word "evidence". 

Since the clause describes an attribute of a referent and restricts the meaning of a word, the label restrictive attributive clause seems both sensible and useful to describe the function of this content clause in context. 

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