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I learned that in relative clauses , which or that can serve as a subject or object in the clause ,
but I found the following sentence confusing.

I learned so much more from books than I ever got out of the things that they taught me at school.

Why is the sentence above considered correct?
The relative clause itself is complete already, with they being the subject and me being the object of the relative clause, what can the relativizer that serve as here?

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I learned so much more from books than I ever got out of the things that they taught me at school.

"That" is not actually a relative word, but a subordinator -- it plays no other role in the relative clause.

The relativised element in your example is missing and realised by the '____' notation, called 'gap', which has things as antecedent. It's diagrammed like this:

I learned so much more from books than I ever got out of the things [ that they taught me ____ at school ].

It now becomes clear that "me" is indirect object and 'gap' is direct object.

  • Thanks, does "plays no other role" mean "plays the same rule"? – 黃冠霖 Mar 16 at 2:09
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That is also a subordinate conjunction that can be used to start noun clauses and relative clauses.

Noun clause:

That he likes me is not important

Where That he likes me is the noun clause, performing the function of subject.

Relative clause:

The things that they taught me are useless

Where That they taught me is the relative clause describing "the things", maybe what confused you here was the fact that To teach is a ditransitive verb, which is a verb that carries two objects:

I taught him a lot of things

Where him is the second object (a.k.a indirect object) and a lot of things is the first object (a.k.a direct object)

In the example you used (The things that they taught me at school) That is serving as the direct object of the verb Taught if we turn it into a phrase, we get:

They taught me the things at school

or

They taught the things to me at school.

You could also replace that for which

The things which they taught me at school.

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