sentence analysis
I see there is more than grammar function for a clause of (that ) Here is example :

She could not accept the reality that her father had died.

One grammar book tells ( that her father had died ) = appositive OK I agree with because it can rename the word noun ( reality )

2- I see it looks like adjective telling ( which reality ) or giving further information about it, so it can function as adjective answers the question ( which reality we are telling about ) This idea I so far agree with

3- I can also say it can be a ( predicate nominative ) likely ( object complement ) This idea I say perhaps but not object complement ((because object or subject complement are usually adjectives )). We can say a part of the predicate Sorry I am wrong with this. I didn't look the verb first. That clause can be predicate nominative only with linking verbs.

Many books tell that a reduced relative clause can be appositives, but here it is not reduced

The problem is always with clause of that since it can be both (( noun clause and adjective clause )) (No doubt, It has many functions grammar)

So, can excellent user give me a little guidance ?

Thank you in advance

I just upload this photo from one grammar book to those who replied That clause would not be a predicate nominative ?? It can be with linking verb
enter image description here

  • Yes, it can be parsed as a restrictive appositive, as a relative clause, or even as a complement (if the governing verb is complexly transitive). What advice do you need, other than a reminder that ambiguity exists? Jan 1, 2022 at 19:16
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    @GaryBotnovcan I disagree: (1) it can’t be a relative clause since there is no relativised element anaphorically linked to a head noun, thus "that her father had died" can't possibly be modifying "reality". (2) some grammars would treat it as an appositive, but this is not a systematic feature of the noun+content clause construction. (3) Object complements consist of NPs and AdjP's, but not clauses, so this is not a complex-transitive construction but an ordinary transitive one. The conclusion is that it's simply a content clause functioning as complement of the noun "reality".
    – BillJ
    Jan 2, 2022 at 7:44

3 Answers 3


That clause would not be a predicate nominative. Distinguishing adjectives from appositives can be quite challenging, hopefully, this article will help to clarify your confusion.

  • This I already read and know Nothing new ? An adjective clause modifies or describes a noun or pronoun. An appositive identifies, defines or renames a noun or pronoun. This is the main difference between appositive and adjective clause. OK, good idea , but when you put it into practical it becomes difficult Jan 1, 2022 at 17:25
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    @AhmadMohammad In your question, the clause that you have highlighted would not be a predicate nominative. I did not say that clauses can never be predicate nominatives.
    – BreWoodsy
    Jan 2, 2022 at 15:55

She could not accept the reality [that her father had died].

Firstly, the bracketed clause is a declarative content clause, sometimes called a that clause.

Its function is neither modifier (your adjective), nor object complement (these are either noun or adjective phrases).

Such clauses are widely seen to be functioning as complement of a verb, noun, adjective, or preposition; under this analysis the content clause is complement of "reality", the head noun that licenses it.

Some grammars, though, would regard it as an appositive by virtue of the fact that it entails She could not accept that her father had died.

However, there are a great many cases where there is no such entailment, for example The suggestion that they cheated was quite outrageous clearly doesn't entail that they cheated was quite outrageous.

For this reason, it is best to regard the content clause as a complement of "reality".

  • @ell.stackexchange.com/users/31780/billj So how it is phrase by God ? (these are either noun or adjective phrases). ?? Noun Yes but phrase not It includes both subject and a verb (( that her father had died.)) that = conjunction Her father = S , had died = V So how a phrase ?????? Jan 1, 2022 at 17:23
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    @AhmadMohammad I was not referring to the content clause, but to object complements being either noun or adjective phrases!
    – BillJ
    Jan 1, 2022 at 17:27
  • @AhmadMohammad I suggest you now delete your comment.
    – BillJ
    Jan 1, 2022 at 18:36
  • OK thank you I know it is appositive but I see it is also defining the noun reality giving further information about it i.e. to say = adjective clause I suspect yes, but in in most percentage I go with the saying = appositive renaming the word noun reality Jan 1, 2022 at 19:01
  • ell.stackexchange.com/users/31780/billj For this point I voted for you For this reason, it is best to regard the content clause as a complement of "reality". object complement Jan 1, 2022 at 23:58

She could not accept the reality that her father had died. = appositive clear

I agree with you ((that her father had died )) = noun clause substitution to the word reality

Suppose we remove the word ( reality )

She could not accept that her father had died. = the sentence still has sense, but here after removing the word ( reality ) the rest ( that clause ) = N Clause object

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