Prepositions Followed By That Clauses

Constructions with prepositions that are followed by that clauses

In English, constructions such as in the event, on the basis, on the grounds, on (the) condition, to the effect may be followed by that clauses. The prepositional constructions and their clausesOpens in new window have been bracketed in examples shown in 1).

PrepositionClause
1a)  You should notify my wife [in the event] [that something happens to me].
1b)  The lawyer asked for a reduced sentence [on the grounds] [that the crime he had committed was his first offense.]

The that clauses in 1) are closely connected to the nouns that follow the prepositions (i.e., event and grounds). Evidence of this is shown in the rephrased versions in 2), in which the bracketed prepositional phrasesOpens in new window with the demonstrative determiners that and thoseOpens in new window clearly refer back to the clauses that begin the sentences.

  • 2a)  Something might happen to me, and [in that event] you should notify my wife.
  • 2b)  The crime her client had committed was not serious and it was his first offence, and [on those grounds] the lawyer asked for a reduced sentence.

We can argue that in the event and on the grounds are complex prepositions. Thus, we still have a basic prepositional phrase structure in which the clause functions as the object of the preposition, as shown in 3).

PrepositionClause
3a)[in the event] [that something happens to me]
3b)[on the grounds][that the crime was not serious]

Similar constructions

The preposition + noun construction in order introduces an infinitive clause. In order is often deleted, leaving to, as shown in 4b).

PrepositionInfinitive Clause
4a)  He did it[in order] [to impress his girlfriend].
4b)  He did it to impress his girlfriend.

Infinitive clauses that are introduced by in order are referred to as purpose clauses because they answer the question why, as shown in 5).

PrepositionInfinitive Clause
5a)  Why did he do it? In order to impress his girlfriend.
5b)  Why did they stop at the grocery store? In order to buy some eggs.