In the following sentence:

If you saw anything that you feel was suspicious between these time frames, please do contact us.

Is the clause "That you feel was suspicious" acting as an adverb or adjective clause?

Also, if the clause is an adjective clause, is the pronoun "that" functioning as the subject or object of it's relative clause?

  • It's a restrictive relative clause, and all relative clauses modify noun phrases; this one modifies anything. You make the choice. Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 14:08
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    For Q1: Compare 'If you saw anything that you feel was suspicious ...' with 'If you saw anything strange ...'. Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 14:53

2 Answers 2


"that you feel was suspicious" is a relative clause (the term is more systematic than adjective clause).

"I consider something suspicious" can be transformed into "something that I consider suspicious". In the relative clause "I" is subject and relative "that" is object.

In your sentence you have the construction "I feel it is suspicious". When changed to "something that I feel is suspicious" this construction sounds somehow wrong, but "that" would be object.


"that you feel was suspicious", as others have noted, is a restrictive relative clause that modifies the noun "thing". (Contrary to what @JohnLawler says, restrictive relative clauses modify nouns (or N-bars), not noun phrases.) Since this relative clause modifies a noun, it would be reasonable to call it an adjective or adjective clause, but I don't think people do actually use that term.

If you want to unpack the relative clause so you can see where the relative pronoun comes from, you have to go back to a conjunction of sentences. Here, a sentence "You saw something that you feel was suspicious" is equivalent to the conjunction of sentences "You saw something, and you feel it was suspicious", where "it" refers back to "something". If this is made into a relative clause construction, the NP corresponding to "it" becomes a relative pronoun:

You saw something which you feel was suspicious.

When this sentence is made the first part of an if-then construction, "some"s are changed to "any"s, because "if" creates a negative polarity environment.

If you saw anything which you feel was suspicious ..., please do contact us.

I will leave the relative pronoun "which" rather than using "that", since not everyone considers "that" to be a relative pronoun.

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