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I want to know everything (that) there is to know about you.

I chanced to come across ‘expletive there’ in a syntactic textbook. It says in this type of sentences: there is an expletive, to know about you is the argument for the verb. Then [there is to know about you] is a complete sentence and there is no grammatical place for ‘(that).’
Then, ‘(that) there is to know about you ‘ is not a relative clause but complement for the noun everything (adjective clause), and so ‘(that)’ is not a relative pronoun but a conjunction, I think. Can this be a possible and appropriate thought?

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No, it's a relative clause. Everything is an indefinite quantifier and can't really take a complement clause; that's reserved for picture nouns like rumor (the rumor that Bill and Susie eloped). However, this is far from the only issue; this sentence has been done an awful lot of things to. There-insertion, indefinite subject deletion (subject of to know), relative quantifiers, wow. It's pretty close to an idiom. –  John Lawler Feb 19 '13 at 1:33
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Where John Lawler fears to tread I'm not going to venture! That's actually a relief; it's a very complex construction. I'll just say that that here can be replaced with which, so it must be a relative pronoun, not a conjunction. –  StoneyB Feb 19 '13 at 1:53

1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Yes, this can be a possible thought. Everything that @John Lawler has explained is correct. There are a lot of things going on in these phrases.

You have noticed (that) "that" as a relative pronoun may be elided in English without necessarily being ungrammatically correct.

However, "there is to know about you" is not a complete sentence in that it is not an atomic type. Not to be reductive, but it is not an independent clause because it begins with the relative pronoun "that," which would not be diagrammed as an SP.

That "that" is not a conjunction. An easy way to remember the most common coordinating conjunctions is the mnemonic "FANBOYS," for

  • For
  • And
  • Nor
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So

If it's not on that list, you might be looking at something other than a conjunction.

I hope this helps. What textbook are you using for your studies?

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