seem as if that

Heard this morning in an interview on NPR, an instance of seem as if + that-clause, where an unmarked complement clause would be standard. Many examples can be found on the net, with seem and with other perception verbs (look, sound, feel), so as if joins complementizer like in allowing that-clause complements as a (non-standard) option (discussion of like here).

Some examples with seem:

It will seem as if that you never even slept at all even if you did. (link)

At first glance it may seem as if that you have little or no role in the writing of your recommendation letters. (link)

It seemed as if that I could reach up and touch it. (James R. Benn, Billy Boyle: A World War II Mystery (Soho Press, N.Y., 2006), ch. 23)

It seems as if that we are not alone in a job crisis.(link)

And with other verbs:

[look] Looks as if that I am going to have to call in a professional…because I am starting to get impatient with this. (link)

[look] It even looks as if that I have an ingrown toenail, but the strange thing is that there is no nail on that side, just the nail bed (link)

[look] Now to me, that seemed like the right thing to say because it was the truth. But to them, it looked as if that I was only in for this management position for the short term. (link)

[sound]  Judging from your profile it sounds as if that you’d be interested (link)

[sound] So it sounds as if that we need to teach young kids and/or adults how precious life is and that no matter how bad you day is or your life is going, it could be worse and that there are alway other ways besides violence to deal with it. (link)

[feel] But anyways, it sounds like he feels as if that you’re not putting forth enough effort. (link)

[feel] If a reader feels as if that you are getting deceitful in any way, there is certainly a fantastic possibility that they may leave your internet site and under no circumstances return. (link)

In my posting on feel like that and its relatives, I noted two possible contributions to the construction: that as a reinforcement of complement marking (seen also in because that and in the WH-that construction) and clauses (both marked and unmarked) serving as objects of prepositions. The latter factor is relevant because like functions as a preposition as well as a subordinator. But (as) if is only a subordinator, so the parallels to V as if that are things like because that and

the modern WH-that construction (I wonder how many people that were at the party) — brief discussion here, with links to other discussions — in which a multi-word interrogative subordinator (like how many people) is combined with complementizer that. (link)

(The restriction to WH-phrases has been challenged by naturalistic data collected by Andrew Radford, in which single WH-words combine with thatwhy that and the like — but that doesn’t affect the fact that WH-that examples aren’t hard to find.)

Further observation: parallel to because that and as if that, we find plain if that, in things like:

I wonder if that we can get more Google Earth time. (link)

I wonder if that he’ll approve of that title on his business card? (link)

(Examples with subordinators other than because and if (after, before, since) are hard to search for, because they also function as prepositions, so that they can combine with that as an object pronoun. But I suspect they’re out there too.)


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