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I’d like to know this “that” clause’s function.

As the days passed, the nation grew increasingly skeptical that any of the minors had survived- let alone all of them.

I can assume it means the nation grew skeptical about the possibility that the minors had survived. But I’m not sure what the “that clause”’s function is here.

Could you please give me some examples of that clauses as it is used in the above sentence?

Thank you.

  • Are the quotation marks around the phrase on purpose? It might be worth changing to be bold instead as it currently looks like the sentence includes a quote. Please could you provide a link to the source? – Bee Jun 17 at 9:22
  • @Bee I read it on my Korean grammar book. So I don’t have the source link. 😢 – Mango Gummy Jun 17 at 9:35
  • Ah, no worries then! – Bee Jun 17 at 9:36
  • The declarative content clause (your that clause) functions as complement to the adjective "sceptical". Other examples include "I'm glad that you could come"; "Ed is certain that he is being victimised"; "I'm determined that he won't get the better of me". – BillJ Jun 17 at 10:49
  • @BillJ Thank you! – Mango Gummy Jun 18 at 0:29
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This is a very common structure:

  • I am happy that you are happy
  • I am sure that you are wrong
  • I am skeptical that this is a good idea

In US English, "that" is frequently omitted. In British English, "that" is much more common.

  • I am happy you are unhappy [AmE]

To British ears, it can sound ambiguous, and we might well say one of the following two:

  • I am happy that you are unhappy [I am happy because you are unhappy]
  • I am happy, you are unhappy. [I am happy, in contrast to you, who is unhappy]
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You pretty much answered your own question when you said you assumed it means the nation grew sceptical about the possibility that the minors had survived.

It could be written:

...the nation grew increasingly sceptical of the fact that any of the minors had survived.

With these words added you can see the function of "that" more clearly. It is the fact that minors survived about which the writer is sceptical.

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As the days passed, the nation grew increasingly sceptical [that any of the minors had survived] - let alone all of them.

Syntactically, the bracketed content clause (your that clause) functions as complement of the adjective "sceptical".

Semantically, "sceptical" has two arguments, expressing the nation's state of mind relative to the proposition that any of the minors had survived.

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