attributive clause vs. appositive clause

gloriazz

New Member
Mandarin
#1
"Modern science has given clear evidence that smoking can lead to many diseases."
In this sentence, "that smoking can lead to many disease" is which kind of clause, attributive clause or appositive clause ?
This question really confuses me. Any help will be highly appreciated.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    #2
    These are appositive: the belief that smoking causes disease; the knowledge that smoking causes disease. In these cases, 'that smoking causes disease' is the belief or the knowledge - the that-clause says exactly what the belief/knowledge consists of, so it's another way of saying it. With evidence, however, the evidence is different from what it's evidence for. So this doesn't feel like an 'appositive' combination to me.
     

    gloriazz

    New Member
    Mandarin
    #3
    First, thanks for Entangledbank's detailed explanation. So this should be an attributive clause ? Is it make sense to you ?
     
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    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    #4
    Terminology can be tricky, because people (grammarians) sometimes use different terms to refer to the same grammatical concepts. In any event, I think here you have an appositive clause.

    "Attributive" usually means an adjective that comes before a noun (strange man). Now, some people use attributive clause to mean relative clause (more precisely, attributive relative clause), where such clause comes after a noun and modifies that noun, just like an adjective. A key feature of relative clauses (or attributive relative clauses, if we use that term) is that the relative pronoun plays a syntactic function inside the clause. However, in that smoking can lead to many diseases, the pronoun "that" plays no syntactic function, that's why "that" can be deleted without changing meaning: smoking can lead to many diseases. The conclusion, then, is that the clause "that smoking can lead to many diseases" is not an attributive clause.

    It is commonly said that an appositive clause renames another noun or noun phrase, which means that you can delete the appositive clause or the noun/noun phrase and still maintain a valid syntactic structure. For example:
    The belief that smoking can lead to many diseases is clear.
    The belief is clear.
    That smoking can lead to many diseases is clear.
    Notice that we can't do that with "modern science has given clear evidence that smoking can lead to many diseases:"
    Modern science has given clear evidence.
    Modern science has given clear that smoking can lead to many diseases. (????)

    By the definition (that appositive elements substitute for one another), "that smoking can lead to many diseases" is not an appositive clause. However, that definition of apposition is too narrow. There are many clauses that don't meet that definition and are still "appositive." A broader definition of appositive clause says that such a clause is introduced by the conjunction "that" and involves a corefential relationship between two elements (where the two elements express the same idea). In that sense, "that smoking can lead to many diseases" is an appositive clause; it has a coreferential relationship with "evidence." Two characteristics of these appositive clauses is that "which" can't be used, and that the word "namely" can be added:
    Modern science has given clear evidence, namely, that smoking can lead to many diseases. This type of apposition is common with abstract nouns, such as evidence, fact, belief etc.

    Cheers
     
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