I'd like to know which parts of speech given and that are in the following sentence:

Given that the dress is small, I couldn't wear it.

In the answers here, one poster said given that is a subordinating conjunction. They also said that the clause following the phrase is a subordinating clause.

Another user said that the word given is a verb and that the word that is a complementiser belonging to the following noun phrase and that the noun phrase is a Complement of the verb given.

Someone else suggested that given is a preposition and that is a subordinator. In fact, prepositions was the first tag I used for this question. Merriam-Webster also say that given in given that is a preposition.

On the other hand, Cambridge Dictionaries, has no entry for given that, which suggests that it is not a single item. Oxford Dictionaries say that it is a subordinating conjunction.

And in fact, M-W includes elsewhere:

given [adjective]

... 3b granted: given that all are equal before the law

Small wonder that some users argue that dictionaries are not good places to look to find out parts of speech.

What do other authoritative grammar sources have to say about this?

To sum up:

  • What parts of speech are given and that in the example sentence, and what supporting evidence is there for allocating them to these parts of speech?
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jun 5, 2018 at 2:10

2 Answers 2


Here, given that is a subordinating conjunction.

(You can replace given that with because and retain the meaning.)

Given that the dress is small is a subordinating clause to the main clause I wouldn't wear it.

  • This would be a better link, since given that is actually called a conjunction. oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/given-that
    – KarlG
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 19:37
  • @KarlG There are three types of conjunction: coordinating, subordinating, and correlative. It's true that given that is a conjunction. But it's specific type of conjunction here is subordinating. However, I've changed the link to one that points to that specific phrase. Commented May 30, 2018 at 19:56
  • My point is that given that has not been for all time considered a conjunction, but merely a past participle with a rel. clause object/complement, like considering that, assuming that, or even an adjective like happy/sad/delighted/ that he finally arrived…. So a source actually terming it a conjunction is necessary.
    – KarlG
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 7:58
  • @KarlG Yes, but it's completely dependent on context. If I write, "No, he wasn't given that," it's used in a completely different way (not as a conjunction) than it is in the sentence example here. Here, it's the intent behind the words that's important—it (or because or since or whatever synonym it could be replaced with) is being used as a "cause"-based subordinating conjunction. It's the function of the clause that's most important, and how the introductory words behave in that context. Commented May 31, 2018 at 8:11
  • Please stop explaining basic grammar points and listen to what I'm saying. Parsing given that, assuming (that), granted (that) etc. as conjunctions rather than participles with objects is rather recent as these things go. Thus it would be better to link to an authoritative source that actually lists such expressions as conjunctions rather than one that doesn't. In fact, I haven't run across one that does, but some dictionaries do. PS: the downvote isn't mine.
    – KarlG
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 8:46

"that" is a complementizer, whose function is to convert a sentence into a complement. A complement combines with a verb to form a verb phrase (which combines with a subject noun phrase to form a sentence).

In the example, "given" is a passive verb whose subject complement is the noun phrase "that the dress is small", which in turn is from combining the complementizer "that" and the sentence "the dress is small".

  • 1
    Given is a past participle whose object is the that-clause. The participle has no subject here.
    – KarlG
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 8:53

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