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I said the word that I heard.

This is indirect speech and the word ''that'' is a relative pronoun.

But what about the sentence:

I said that I heard the word.

Is the word ''that'' a relative pronoun here ?

If so then why ? If not then why not ?

1 Answer 1

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I said that I heard the word.

That here is not a relative pronoun but what is called a subordinating conjunction by traditional grammarians and a subordinator or complementizer by many contemporary grammarians. It marks the clause which it introduces as subordinate, usually acting as a complement of a constituent in the clause to which it is subordinated.

In fact, there are grammarians who hold that that is never a "relative pronoun" but always a subordinator/complementizer—but I think that this is an unnecessarily narrow distinction. A single term may be employed in some contexts to serve multiple functions.

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