Have you ever come across an example of a dually embedded content clause functioning as subject, such as

That that it works is obvious is disputed.

  • 1
    "That its working is obvious is disputed." "Its workings being obvious is disputed." "For its workings being obvious to be disputed is surprising."
    – Greg Lee
    Feb 19, 2017 at 18:40

1 Answer 1


It turns out that this type of embedding is discussed (and marked with #: semantically or pragmatically anomalous) in Huddleston & Pullum's CGEL in the section called 'Processing factors', pp 1405-6. Also, Pullum tells me that such examples are never found. "Fred Householder asserted in a couple of book reviews in Language that English has a surface constraint forbidding "that that". Terry Langendoen's view is that it's a processing matter: stashing two subordinators in a row as promissory notes for finite clauses that are to come is too much of a strain on the old processing box."

  • A surface constraint forbidding "that that" seems an overreach to me. I find sentences such as "I think that that she's innocent is beyond dispute" grammatical in speech, where the second that would have to start a new intonational phrase. But as H&P say, it's not possible for subjects. Apr 23, 2022 at 2:06

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