Interested in Language
I saw this on a book:
'In most cases, we cannot use that to begin a noun clause after a preposition. However, we can use that to begin a noun clause after in or except.
The problem lies in that the mist may become a thick fog.'
However, in John Eastwood's Oxford Guide to English Grammar, he says 'we cannot use a that-clause after a preposition.'
The explanation is wrong in saying that 'except' is a preposition when it is followed by a that-clause, as it is in fact a conjunction. But how about the cited example? I know it is all right to use a wh-clause or how-clause after a preposition, but can we use a that-clause after a preposition?
Thank you very much.
Last edited by philipwei; 21-Jul-2009 at 14:54. Reason: typo
Thanks for your reply, svartnik. The 's' after 'lie' is a missed typo. However, I'm not sure whether we should forget Oxford. As we know, the same sentence could be:
The problem lies in the fact that the mist may become a thick fog.
And this is a more common structure than 'lies in that-clause', as there are 93 entries of 'lies in the fact that' but only two entries of 'lies in that-clause' according to the British National Corpus. So, if the original sentence is acceptable, what's the difference?
Here are some examples:
It was the first girl I went out with that I ended up marrying. (I ended up marrying the girl with whom I first went out) Object clause
It was the first girl I went out with that ended up marrying me. Subject clause
It's the article that Mary took a copy of that I wish to read. (the article of which Mary took a copy). Object clause
It's the article that Mary took a copy of that caused such a fuss. Subject clause.
It's the mess the dog brought in that I want you to clean up.
This rule seems to make sense only if we can't end a clause with a preposition, which we all know by now is nonsense.
Here are the simple solutions that can be applied in order that a noun clause is not preceded by a preposition:
Josephine insists that we all go. (omitting the preposition, in this case on)
Josephine insists on it that we all go. (retaining the preposition, with anticipatory it used)
Josephine just concentrates on the fact that we are all fine at the moment. (inserting the fact before the noun clause)
So, I guess you're saying that they're right.
Naturally I did not give examples of 'that' clauses that could not follow a preposition, since that would have damaged my argument - my argument being that you can follow a preposition with a 'that' clause (as long as it is not the type of 'that' clause that can't follow a preposition).
On analysis, 'which' refers to the notion that we can't end a clause with a preposition.
The "rule" in the above sentence refers to the rule about that-clauses not following prepositions, which is a different rule from that which says we shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition.
So, no it doesn't refer to 'rule'.