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  1. I believe that pigs can fly

I think here "that" is being used as a conjunction to combine the independent clause (pigs can fly) with the dependent clause (I believe)

  1. That the boys painted the pig green annoyed the pig.

This one I'm not so sure about. "The boys painted the pig green" is an independent clause, and "annoyed the pig" is a dependent clause; but in this case "that" doesn't join them.

Any insight?

  • What annoyed the pig? Getting painted green by the boys. So the the second that clause is the subject of the independent clause, not an independent clause on its own. – deadrat Oct 7 '16 at 4:30
  • Why is the subject of the IC not within the IC itself, isn't the subject of "the boys painted the pig green" boys? Also, am I right about what part of speech I am, what do you think it is? – Luke Oct 7 '16 at 4:36
  • The subject of the IC is within the IC. The subject is the noun clause That the boys painted the pig green; boys is the subject of that dependent noun clause. The initial word that is called a subordinator. – deadrat Oct 7 '16 at 4:52
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English has three different uses of that:

  1. Subordinating that: I believe that pigs can fly.
  2. Demonstrative pronoun that: That is not a pig.
  3. Adjectival that: That pig cannot fly.

Both your examples are examples of the subordinating that.

Whether you say "It annoyed the pig that the boys painted it" or "That the boys painted the pig annoyed it" does not change the nature of the that. You just swap the two clauses around, is all.

And the that still does join them alright. Just try dropping it to see that it does.

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