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As soon as I arrived I made an attempt to find my host, but the two or three people of whom I asked his whereabouts stared at me in such an amazed way, and denied so vehemently any knowledge of his movements, that I slunk off in the direction of the cocktail table – the only place in the garden where a single man could linger without looking purposeless and alone.

I notice that there is a word 'that' in the sentence 'that I slunk off in the direction of the cocktail table – the only place in the garden where a single man could linger without looking purposeless and alone'. I am wondering what kind of clause this is.

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The clause that I slunk off in the direction of the cocktail table is part of the construction stared at me in such an amazed way, and denied so vehemently any knowledge of his movements, that I slunk off in the direction of the cocktail table. It can therefore be classified as a result clause.

The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar (p362) includes this extract as part of its definition of the grammatical concept of result:

(Expressing) the outcome of an action, event, etc. The concept of result is very general, so that many language elements can be described as relating to it, and consequently usage of this term is very wide-ranging.

Result is one of the categories used in the semantic description of subordinators and subordinate clauses. A subordinator introducing a result clause is variously described as a subordinator of result or a resultive/resultative subordinator/conjunction. Examples are so, so ... (that), such ...(that):

  • It was so hot (that) I nearly fainted.

  • It was such a hot day (that) I nearly fainted.

There are more examples of sentences containing result clauses on Wordcategory: http://wordcategory.blogspot.com/2012/11/subordinate-clauses-result-clause.html

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  • But the that clause has to be licensed by "such" and "so", which means it's a complement, not a result adjunct. Result adjuncts are normally introduced by "so", or "with the result", as in "They spent all their money, so / with the result that they couldn't afford their fare home". – BillJ Feb 23 '19 at 11:08
  • @BillJ. In A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (Quirk et.al, p1108) there is a section titled Clauses of result. It contains this extract: In one type of comparative clause, the clause expresses result. This type has the correlatives 'so...(that)' or 'such...(that), in which 'so' and 'such' are intensifiers.' CGEL gives these examples: Her parents gave her so many toys (that) she couldn't possibly play with them all and She is such a good lecturer (that) all her lectures are full. It is not clear to me how these constructions differ from those in the OP's question. – Shoe Feb 23 '19 at 16:37
  • I don't have a copy of Quirk's CGEL to hand, but H&P's CGEL (which I subscribe to) would give the bracketed clause in Her parents gave her so many toys [(that) she couldn't possibly play with them all] as an indirect complement, not a result adjunct. It's a complement because the clause is licensed by the adverb "so", as evident from the fact that if "so" is dropped, the sentence becomes ungrammatical. A result adjunct would require the insertion of "so that" or "with the result that": "Her parents gave her many toys so / with the result that she couldn't possibly play with them all. – BillJ Feb 23 '19 at 17:23
  • And in your other example "She is such a good lecturer (that) all her lectures are full", the that clause is licensed by "such", and hence must be a complement. This is evident from the fact that if "such" is dropped, the sentence becomes ungrammatical. Any clause that requires licensing can only be a complement, which rules out "that all her lectures are full" as being a reason adjunct, since adjuncts don't have to be licensed. – BillJ Feb 23 '19 at 17:32
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As soon as I arrived made an attempt to find my host, but the two or three people of whom I asked his whereabouts stared at me in such an amazed way, and denied so vehemently any knowledge of his movements, that I slunk off in the direction of the cocktail table ... .

The clause is a declarative content clause functioning as an indirect complement. It's called indirect because it's licensed (specifically required/permitted) by the words "such" and "so" in the prior phrases ("such an amazed way" and "so vehemently"). If those words are dropped, the clause becomes ungrammatical, and would require the addition of the word "so" (in which case it would be a result adjunct).

Since the clause requires licensing, it can only be a complement, not an adjunct (adverbial)

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  • What is a "direct complement"? The object of a transitive verb? – TRomano Feb 23 '19 at 11:16
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    A direct complement (or just complement) is licensed by the head, while an indirect complement is licensed by a dependent of the head; in the case of a declarative content clause, by one of the degree adverbs "so" and "such". – BillJ Feb 23 '19 at 13:45

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