§ 152. A predicative clause may be introduced by conjunctions (that, whether, whether… or, as, as if, as though, because, lest, the way), or connectives. The latter may be conjunctive pronouns (who, whoever, what, whatever, which) or conjunctive adverbs (where, wherever, when, whenever, how, why).
The fact was that he had forgotten about it.
The only reason for my coining is because I hoped to see you again.
Our fear was lest we should miss him in the crowd.
That’s what he wants you to think.
The choice of conjunction is closely connected with the meaning of the word functioning as the subject of the main clause. Thus the conjunction because is used when the word functioning as subject expresses reason, the conjunction whether – when it expresses doubt or implies choice. The connective when is used when the noun functioning as subject expresses a temporal notion (time, day, evening, moment) and the connective where is used when it denotes a place. Thus in the sentence given above The only reason for my coming is because I hoped to see you again the meaning of the subject reason predetermines the use of the conjunction because. In the same way in the sentence The question is whether we can manage without him the meaning of the subject question predetermines the conjunction whether.
This, however, does not mean that a certain conjunction is the only possible one, and that no other can be used after a certain word functioning as subject.
If the subject denotes order, proposal, request, suggestion, arrangement, desire, etc., the conjunction that is generally used, followed by a clause with the predicate in the subjunctive mood (should + infinitive).
The regulation was that the first examination should be done in writing.
Our proposal is that you should join in.
Their suggestion was that no one should interfere.
Predicative clauses with comparative meaning are introduced by the comparative conjunctions as, as if, as though.
It was as though our last meeting was forgotten.
Everything remained as it used to be in this room.
She looks as if she were ill.
Predicative clauses introduced by the conjunctions as, as if, as though should not be confused with adverbial clauses of comparison introduced by the same conjunctions. A predicative clause immediately follows the link verb, which does not express complete predication without the clause. In the case of an adverbial clause, the preceding verb is that of complete predication and the clause may be distant from the verb it modifies, for instance:
Mrs Abinger hated to be talked to as if she were a child.
The Frenchman nodded vigorously, as though it were the most reasonable statement in the world.
Predicative clauses may be joined asyndetically. In this case they are usually separated by a comma or a dash.
The result was, his master raised his wages a hundred a month.
As can be seen from the above examples, a predicative clause has a fixed position in the sentence – it always follows a link verb, with which it forms a compound nominal predicate. The link verbs used with predicative clauses are far less numerous than those used with the nonclausal predicatives. The most common are to be, to feel, to look, to seem. Less frequent are to appear, to remain, to become, to sound, to taste.
Types of predicative clauses
§ 153. Predicative clauses may occur as parts of two structurally different kinds of sentences:
I. They may follow the main clause in which the subject is a notional word, although it usually has a very general meaning (thing, question, problem, news, sensation, evil, rule, trouble, etc.). In this case, the predicative clause discloses the meaning of the subject.
The rule was that they walked down to the cliff path and traveled up in the lift.
The trouble was whether we could manage it ourselves or not.
The problem is not who will go, but who will stay.
II. The predicative clause may follow the main clause in which the subject is expressed by the impersonal pronoun it . In this case, the predicative clause describes the situation, either directly or by means of comparison.
It appears he hasn’t been there.
It sounded as if even the spring began by act of Parliament.
Care should be taken not to confuse this last typeofsentence with complex sentences with a subject clause, which also begins with it . In the latter case the predicate of the main clause is complete, whereas in the case of a predicative clause it consists only of the link verb. Compare the following sentences:
It seems that there is no cure. (a predicative clause)
It seems evident that there is no cure. (a subject clause, the predicate ‘seem evident’ is complete)