I would like to pose a simple question here; although my own professor could not answer it. What is the difference between a relative and an appositive clause? How can one tell the difference (e.g. if you have to analyse a sentence containg one of these two structures - how can you tell whether it is appositive or relative?)?
I used to think that a relative clause somehow defines the sentence element before that particular clause and that an appositive clause only provides us with some additional information, but when we had to do some practical work, nobody in the class had a clue. And our professor's incapability of explaining the matter confused us even further.

Thank you,

1 2
An appositive clause has the same referent (refers to the same thing in the real world) as the noun it follows. It is therefore a noun clause.

The fact that you applied for the position indicates that you would like to work here.

What is the fact? The fact is that you applied for the position. Both "fact" and "that you applied for the position" refer to the same thing. Note that "that" is a complementizer, not a relative pronoun here. That is, "that" does not refer back to, or substitute for, the word "fact".

A relative clause has a relative pronoun in it, which can be "that" or "which" or others. It is this word alone, not the whole clause, which has the same referent as the noun it follows.

The story that you wrote was very good.

The story was very good. You wrote the story. You wrote that. Both "story" and "that" refer to the same thing. "that you wrote" is an adjective clause. It modifies (limits, specifies) the meaning of "the story". "that" refers back to and substitutes for the word "story".

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So... If I have understood your reply correctly... The best way to determine if a clause is relative or appositive is to try to change "that" with "which". If the sentence still makes sense, the clause is relative (e.i. "that" is a relative pronoun), but if it doesn't, the clause is appositive, as "that" really functions as a conjunction.
Well, thank you very much for your contribution;)

I have an additional question - this is actually linked to a sentence we had to analyse for our test (we are retaking the test in two weeks time, as the majority of the class has failed it). This is the sentence:

This reveals how, during the summer of 2002, when Blair and his closest advisers were mounting an intense diplomatic campaign TO PERSUADE BUSH TO AGREE TO SEEK UNITED NATIONS SUPPORT OVER IRAQ, and promising British support for military action in return, Blair apparently concealed his actions from his Cabinet.

Our dear professor told us that the clause in big characters is an appositive to-infinitival clause. The only thing I don't seem to get here is WHY the clause is appositive. I'd rather think that it is an adverbial clause of cause/reason (which the professor later admitted to be possible). What do you think? If this is an appositive clause - why is it so?

Thank you for your kindness,

Hello Sara

I believe Jim will give a better answer, but I'd like to put my two cents.

An appositive that-clause is a clause that is put as a detailed rephrase of the antecedent noun. Because the appositive clause is a rephrase to the antecedent, you can replace the antecedent with the appositive that-clause without a significant change of the meaning. For example:
[1] The news that I passed the exam makes me happy.
[2] That I passed the exam makes me happy.
#1 and #2 are the same in the meaning.

On the other hand, when that-clause is a normal adjective relative clause, you cannot delete the antecedent without change of the meaning.
[3]The news that he told me yesterday makes me happy.
[4]That he told me yesterday makes me happy.
#3 and #4 are different in the neaning.

As for your new question, I think you are more correct than your professor
1. Appositive reading
Blair mounted a campaign (for him) to persuade Bush to agree.
=Blair mounted a campaign that he persuaded Bush to agree.
I feel it is a bit odd to rephrase "a campaign" with "that he persuaded Bush to agree". "Blair mounted that he persuaded Bush to agree" doesn't seem to make sense.
2. Adverbial reading.
Blair mounted a campaign (for him) to persuade Bush to agree.
=Blair mounted a campaign so that he persuaded Bush to agree.
This interpretation seems more natural.

I think Paco has come up with an excellent way to test whether an appositive clause is present.

I also agree with Paco's interpretation of the new sentence you gave.

I think that if we interpret "campaign to persuade ..." as apposition, then we would probably also interpret structures like "Bill's eagerness to win the prize was obvious" in the same way, saying that "to win ..." is in apposition to "eagerness". There may be some way of justifying this view of the grammar, but in my opinion it is stretching the concept of apposition.

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Thank you again,

can you give me the exact meaning of adjectival clause
please can you give me the different functions of adjectival clauses.

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