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It was in 1945 that World World 2 ended.

I think that is a complementizer, but I'm not sure of the nature of this complement. By nature I mean the part of speech of the complement clause and to what is it a complement.

It's neither the subject nor the object of this sentence. (compare I think that World War 2 ended in 1945.)

It not the complement of a predicate adjective either. (compare I am sure that World War 2 ended in 1945.)

Maybe it's the complement to the prepositional/adverbial phrase in 1945? The reason I say this is because the that-clause couldn't just complement the was if the in 1945 was removed.

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  • Yes, that is a complementizer here. It's part of this It-Cleft transform of World War II ended in 1945. – John Lawler Dec 1 '20 at 17:55
  • @JohnLawler But this sentence is quite different from Having time to think makes me depressed. or You are mistaken. where the NP is extracted and followed by a that relative clause (adjectival in nature). If we were to do that with my sentence, we'd get It was WW II that ended in 1945. instead of It was in 1945 that WW II ended. The in 1945 is throwing me off because it's clearly abverbial in nature instead of adjectival. Anyways going back to my question: is the POS of the complement clause a noun clause? And to what is it a complement of? – Joe Dec 1 '20 at 18:32
  • As JL say, it's an it-cleft, but the expression that World World 2 ended is a relative clause, not a complement, so "that" is analysed as a subordinating conjunction (aka subordinator) introducing the relative clause that WW2 ended. The basic non-cleft version is simply WW2 ended in 1945. – BillJ Dec 1 '20 at 18:32
  • @BillJ If that is the indeed the case, what is antecedent of the relative clause that World War 2 ended? Because it should be modifying a noun no? – Joe Dec 1 '20 at 18:37
  • The foregrounded element (the antecedent) may be an NP, a PP, an AdvP or an AdjP. In your example, it's the PP "in 1945". Btw, in a cleft construction, the relative clause is not a modifier of the forgrounded element. – BillJ Dec 1 '20 at 18:45

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