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I have the next two sentences, and I'm asked to state the function and category of the parts in bold. I am introduced to the concepts of function and category, but I was applying what I learned about them on oversimple structures, but now I find these two sentences confusing, so I couldn't determine their category and function or to be more precise, I have an answer in my mind, but I'm not sure if it is acceptable. The sentences are:

  1. They are fond of bull-fighting, which I find quite repulsive.

I know that the part in bold has the category of non-restrictive relative clause, but I'm not sure about the function.

  1. My wife hated the fact that the children left their clothes strewn across the floor.

In this example, I guess the category is an appositive clause, but I'm not settled about the function, so please could you tell me the category and function of each part?

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    (1) has a non-restrictive relative clause if the antecedent of which is bull-fighting: “I find bull-fighting quite repulsive”. But can which in (1) have the whole main clause as its antecedent? “I find their interest in bull-fighting quite repulsive”. This kind of clauses is called a non-restrictive continuative relative clause, if your classification allows this option. Sentences with continuative clauses can be considered a borderline case between subordination and coordination.
    – Yellow Sky
    Jul 28, 2022 at 22:44
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    And the fact the the children did this and that is what's known as a "factive noun phrase complement". The factive part is because fact presupposes its complement clause, and the NP complement part is because they have a special grammar, behaving like verbal complements but modifying nouns, like the story that Trump won the election (which is not factive).
    – jlawler
    Jul 29, 2022 at 1:00
  • 1. Yes, a non-restrictive relative clause. Its function is that of supplementary adjunct. 2. A clause but not an appositive. It's a declarative content clause functioning as complement of "fact".
    – BillJ
    Jul 30, 2022 at 7:17

1 Answer 1

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[1] They are fond of bull-fighting, [which I find quite repulsive].

[2] My wife hated the fact [that the children left their clothes strewn across the floor].

You are right: the bracketed element in [1] is a supplementary (non-restrictive) relative clause. Its function is that of supplementary adjunct, a loosely attached expression set off by punctuation and intonation presenting supplementary non-integrated content.

In [2] the bracketed element is a declarative content clause functioning as complement of (thus licensed by) the head noun "fact". Some people would call it an appositive, but if a key feature of an appositive is its ability to stand alone in place of the whole NP, then [2] fails the test: *My wife hated that the children left their clothes strewn across the floor.

In modern grammar, the perceived wisdom is that it is not a systematic feature of the noun + content clause structure that the latter can function as an appositive.

Note also that it cannot be promoted to subject: *That the children left their clothes strewn across the floor my wife hated.

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  • “My wife hated that ... is perfectly grammatical for me! I don’t quite get your last example. Isn’t it an example of proposing? Aug 3, 2022 at 22:18
  • I don't think "hate" licenses a declarative content clause on its own. "It" is required, as in the object extraposition construction "My wife hated it that the children left their clothes strewn across the floor".
    – BillJ
    Aug 4, 2022 at 10:52
  • Just checked on COCA and BNC. Seems to be a marked UK/US split. Hate seems to take content clauses for many US speakers, but not UK ones. Aug 7, 2022 at 8:30

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