Can anyone say what type of clause this is — noun, adjective or adverbial?

I am glad that you have passed the test.

Some people say that it is a noun clause. But I am not sure. What is the syntactic relation between glad and the that clause?


The clause following 'glad' is a type of subordinate clause known as a that-complement clause. Adjectives such as glad can take a complement clause modifier with 'that' preceding the complement clause and functioning as complementizer, ie to introduce the complement clause.

This complement clause cannot be defined as any of noun, adjective or adverbial as 'you have passed the test' is a complete clause and would be able to stand alone as a main clause.

ADDITION: since first writing this I have become aware that there is a tradition in ESL teaching of referring to complement clauses as 'noun clauses', so this would be a better fit to the question. However this is not standard within the study of English linguistics.

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  • Usually complements can be adjectives and nouns. If "This complement clause cannot be defined as any of noun, adjective or adverbial", then what is its place value i.e. its function. – Haque Aug 26 '12 at 14:18
  • Complements are complements; mostly they function as direct object or subject of a verb, like nouns. But they can also complement nouns that are have verbal properties, like the report [that Bill will attend the party], and you might consider this an adjective usage if you want to, but it's only because it officially modifies a noun. I'd call all complements noun clauses and not make such a useless distinction, myself. – John Lawler Aug 26 '12 at 15:36
  • @JohnLawler I think you're replying to Haque? – Gaston Ümlaut Aug 27 '12 at 8:10

The second clause in the sentence, that you have passed the test, is a dependent post-predicate that-clause.

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  • I asked What type --Noun, Adjective or Adverbial Clause? – Haque Aug 26 '12 at 12:46
  • @Haque~ what type do you think it is? If you could explain precisely which part of your research you are having trouble with, you would get more suitable responses. – Roaring Fish Aug 26 '12 at 13:09
  • I think the That Clause describes 'glad', so, it should be adverbial though I am not sure. – Haque Aug 26 '12 at 14:13

What you heard is right: it is a noun clause.

More precisely in your example, it's a noun clause acting as an adjective complement.

Your adjective is "glad" and your adjective complement is "that you have passed the test."

You can read more about it here.

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  • I have never heard of noun clauses. Who uses the term besides your reference? – Barrie England Aug 26 '12 at 14:02
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    Hardly authoritative sources. Perhaps it's a term used in the US. I don't find it helpful, not least because it risks confusion with 'noun phrase'. – Barrie England Aug 26 '12 at 14:17
  • I think the second link broke. Here's one more: suite101.com/article/… – Cool Elf Aug 26 '12 at 14:18
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    It's a simplification of the concept of clause classes; there are clauses that function like arguments of verbs, thus "noun clauses", clauses that function to modify nouns (like relatives), thus "adjective clauses", and clauses that function like adverbs, thus "adverb clauses". Many varieties of each type, of course. But it's not necessary to label clauses by which lexical category they act like; complement says it all, I think. – John Lawler Aug 26 '12 at 15:41

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