"I’m glad that we’ve won the match."

An English-Korean dictionary says that-clause above is an adverbial clause. However, from the definition for complement by Oxford - “one or more words, phrases, or clauses governed by a verb (or by a nominalization or a predicative adjective) that complete the meaning of the predicate” - I can guess this that-clause might be said as a complement clause. Can both be proper for this case?

2 Answers 2


I can see why you would be confused. The Oxford definition is, no doubt, correct; but it is pretty complicated for everyday purposes. Let me explain it the way I do when speaking to American school children.

Whenever you are trying to decide what part of speech a word (or phrase) is, look at what job the word/phrase is doing. Adjectives and adverbs both have a job of modifying other words. Basically, that means that the modifying word/phrase gives the reader/listener more information than the modified word alone would. Adjectives modify nouns; and adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, & other adverbs. (Also, for some reason, it is typically more difficult for students to identify adverbs. That is why I teach them to think about adverbs along with adjectives.)

In English, there are words that complete verbs rather than describe them. In most cases the completing word is a preposition. For example, all of these verbs have different meanings: get, get into, get over, get along, get about, get going, get underway. However, "get" is the only case where the meaning is clear without the second word.

So, going back to your sentence: "I'm glad" would be a complete sentence — a subject and verb. Your reader/listener could find out more about "am" but s/he understands fully what the verb means. The phrase "that we won the game" tells your reader/listener more about "glad" rather than completing the verb "am" so it modifies an adjective and thus is an adverbial phrase.

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    Having taught myself, I know that simple models are the most easily assimilated - but when they contain fatal flaws, teaching them does students a disservice. An article from the University of Sussex contains: [The] set of eight [word] classes is still taught in those schools which teach any English grammar; it is found in many grammar books of English (and even in one or two textbooks of linguistics); and it is the list used by many dictionaries of English in assigning part-of-speech labels. But it is grossly inadequate. ... Apr 9, 2013 at 21:58
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    English has at least a dozen parts of speech, and trying to squeeze all these classes into just eight is a serious error.The traditional classification lumps together classes of words which have little or nothing in common and which simply cannot be sensibly forced together. In particular, the traditional classification abuses the category adverb: practically every word which fails to fit sensibly into one of the recognized categories is shoved absurdly into the “adverb” box. As a result, you should be very cautious about accepting ... the label “adverb”. >> Complement clause works here. Apr 9, 2013 at 22:01

In my opinion, I think "that we’ve won the match" is a noun clause. We have structure "GLAD ABOUT SOMETHING", so the noun clause is equivalent to "something". But people tend to omit "about" when after it is a noun clause. So we say "GLAD + THAT CLAUSE"

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