Linguistic Topic # 10: The Structure of the Clause. Sentence | Clause | Verb

Linguistic Topic # 10: The Structure of the Clause. Sentence Paradigm in English R. Quirk I.

Clause Structure The clause structure is defined in terms of the form-function distinction of its constituents1. The immediate constituents2 of a clause are phrases. 1. Functional Classification Subject (S), Verb (V), Object (O), Complement (C), Adverbial (A)

Most people (S) consider (V) these books (O) rather expensive (C), actually (A) The verb element (V) Is the most ‘central’ element in a clause. Note that the distinction between ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’ is relative rather than absolute. The V element is most ‘central’ because: - Its position is rather medial than initial or final; - It is normally obligatory; - It cannot normally be moved to another position in the clause; - It helps to determine what other elements must occur. Usually it is preceded by a subject (S) It may be followed by one or two objects (O) or a complement (C), which follows the object if one is present; The word ‘verb’ is traditionally used both for a clause element and for the class of word that denotes a constituent of that element. The term ‘predicator’ has been used sometimes to replace ‘verb’ in the sense of ‘verb element’. The subject element (S) As the O and the C, the S is in various degrees more peripheral than the V and less peripheral than the A. Though in the majority of cases the S is apparently just as indispensable to clause structure as the V, it should be noted that in imperative and nonfinite clauses the S is usually optional; The objects (O)


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Constituents: constituents are the smaller parts into which a grammatical unit can be divided. There are two ways of classifying constituents – on the basis of there form (e.g. their internal structure, as a noun-phrase or a verb-phrase) or on the basis of their function (as a subject or as an object of a clause). By ‘function’ is meant a unit’s privilege of occurrence in terms of its position, mobility (whether it may vary in position), optionality (whether a constituent can be omitted) etc., in the unit of which it is a constituent. 2 Immediate constituents are these units which are the parts into which another unit is immediately divisible. Thus phrases are immediate constituents of clauses, while words and morphemes are indirect constituents when it comes to clauses (consider the grammatical hierarchy: sentence – clause – phrase – word – morpheme). LT #10 1

An O is a noun or a pronoun that represents the person or thing that something is done to (→We built the house). Objects are usually classified as direct (Od) and indirect (Oi). Apart from semantic distinction, direct and indirect objects can be distinguished in terms of their different distributions: • Whenever there are two objects (such as in type SVOO:→ Mary gave the boy a glass of milk), the former is normally the indirect O, while the latter is the direct object; • Though it is more central in terms of position, in other respects the Oi is more peripheral than the Od: - it is more likely to be optional; - it may generally be paraphrased by a prepositional phrase functioning as adverbial 1.4. The complements (C) A complement is a word or phrase that follows the verb and qualifying the subject or the object if there is a present one. Distinction should be made between subject complements (Cs) and object complements (Co). • In SVC clauses the complement applies some attribute or definition to the subject (→The country became totally independent Cs) • In SVOC clauses the complement applies some attribute or definition to the object (→Most people considered Picasso a genius Co) 1.5. The adverbials (A) The adverbials are used as adverbs in a clause, e.g., they qualify the verb element, an adjective or another adverbial. Usually answers the questions ‘where’, ‘when’ and ‘how’. (→Someone was laughing loudly (A) in the next room (A)). • Adverbials are usually considered as the most peripheral element (opposite to verb elements), because: - their position is most frequently final - they are usually optional - they are mostly mobile - they do not determine what other elements occur.

Yet, it should be noted that the adverbials form a rather heterogeneous category within which there are relatively central and relatively peripheral types of adverbials. - most of the A are mobile and optional: → Usually, my mother enjoys parties (ASVO); → My mother usually enjoys parties (SAVO); → My mother enjoys parties, usually (SVOA); → My mother enjoys parties (SVO). There are some adverbials which cannot readily be moved from their position in the clause: → My mother enjoys parties very much. There are also adverbials which are obligatory, not optional: → I have been in the garden all the time since lunch.


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Because they’re essential to the ‘completion’ of the meaning of the verb, some grammarians classify such elements as complements. The distinction between complement and obligatory adverbials is by no means clear-cut and consequently obligatory adverbials, just as complements, can be divided into subject-related adjuncts (As) and object-related adjuncts (Ao). → He (S) stayed (V) very quiet (Cs); He (s) stayed (V) in bed (As)

→ They (S) kept (V) him (O) very quiet (Co) They(S) kept (V) him (O) in bed (Ao)
Obligatory adverbials are largely restricted to what in a broad sense we may call space adjuncts3, including those indicating position (in bed, at the hotel), direction (downstairs, up, down) and temporal location (→ The next meeting will be on 5th of October). Other major types of adverbials are: conjuncts, disjuncts, and subjuncts There are elements, which are frequently called sentence adverbials, because they tend to qualify by their meaning a whole sentence or clause, rather than just part of the clause (→ To my regret, he refused the offer of help. He was, however, very interested in my other proposals). Unlike space adjuncts, sentence adverbials may vary in position and are not obligatory.

English has strict limitations on the ordering of clause elements (‘a fixed word-order language), but the more peripheral an element is, the more freedom of position it has.

2. Clause Types According to Functional Elements
# 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Type SV SVO SVC SVA SVOO SVOC SVOA S Someone My mother The country I Mary Most people You V was laughing enjoys became have been gave consider must put O parties the visitor ------------a glass of milk these books all the toys C totally independent rather expensive A in the garden upstairs

By eliminating optional adverbials, we arrive at a classification of the essential core of each clause structure. Of the obligatory elements, the main verb is the one that wholly and largely determines what form the rest of the structure will take. The above
Adjunct: word or phrase added to qualify or define another word in a sentence; Disjunct: one expressing opposition of or contrast between units/ ideas etc. (either … or…); Subjunct: expressing a condition, hypothesis etc.; Conjunct: serving to join

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patterns are the most general classification that can be usefully applied to the whole range of English clauses, whether main or subordinate. Each clause type is associated with a set of verbs: 2.1. Intransitive verbs: they are followed by no obligatory element and occur in type SV: → They were dining; they laughed etc. 2.2.
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Transitive verbs: usually followed by an object (O), occur in types SVO, SVOO, SVOC, SVOA: → My uncle gave me the key. A further classification of transitive verbs can be made: Monotransitive: occur in type SVO Ditransitive: occur in type SVOO Complex transitive verbs: occur in type SVOC, SVOA Copular verbs (be, become etc): the term ‘copula’ refers to the verb ‘be’ and copular verbs are those verbs, which are functionally equivalent to the copula; usually, these verbs are followed by a subject complement or an adverbial, occur in types SVC and SVA: → You are crazy! You seem tired.


3. Systematic Correspondences The study of grammatical structure is aided by observing systematic correspondences between one structure and another. A systematic correspondence may be broadly defined as a relation or mapping between two structures X and Y. The relation is often one of semantic equivalence or paraphrase. There are 3 basic types of correspondence that may help in the identification of clause elements: 3.1. Active and passive structures: Clauses containing a noun phrase as object are distinguished by the fact that they are usually matched by passive clauses, in which the object noun phrase now appears as subject (→ I photographed the beautiful sunset. The beautiful sunset was photographed by me). The transformation is: SVOd → SVpassA. There is number of other possible combinations. Copular and complex transitive structures: SVOC + Clause with an infinitive That-clause → I (S) considered (V) her (Od) beautiful (Co). } I considered her to be beautiful I considered that she was beautiful
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Indirect object and prepositional phrases: SVOO clauses can be converted into SVOA clauses: → She (S) sent (V) Jim (Oi) a card (Od) – She (S) sent (V) a card (Od) to Jim (A) → She left Jim a card – She left a card for Jim

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4. Formal Classification For a fuller understanding of the clause patterns, we need to know on what grounds the elements subject, verb, object, complement and adverbial are identified (as functional elements). Although these elements are functional categories, their definitions are based also on formal criteria. Thus, it is important that:
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The verb element can be realized only by a verb phrase Subject and objects normally consist of noun phrase Complements are usually noun phrases or adjective phrases Adverbials are normally adverb phrases, prepositional phrases or noun phrases

There are 5 basic categories of phrase which can function as clause elements (when embedded in other structures)
No. 1. 2. Formal Constituents Verb Phrase Noun Phrase Functional Equivalent Verb Subject Object Complements Adverbials Complement Adverbial Adverbial

3. 4. 5.

Adjective Phrase Adverb Phrase Prepositional phrase

Note that adverb phrases and prepositional phrases can exceptionally function as subjects.

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II. Sentence Paradigm in English The clause, particularly the independent clause, is the immediate constituent of the simple sentence, e.g. the simple sentence consists of a single independent clause. The limits of the simple sentence are set wherever grammatical relations between clauses can be established (such as subordination4 and coordination5). It is a widely accepted principle that the simple declarative sentence is in a sentence canonical form of sentence (kernel/base form) in terms of which other types of sentences may be explained. Sentence paradigm is built on a set of oppositions: • simple declarative v/s interrogative, negative, exclamatory, imperative • simple sentence v/s composite sentence Simple sentences are traditionally divided into two major parts: • Subject: the constituent defining the topic of the sentence • Predicate: that which is asserted about the subject. One significant property of the predicate is that it is the part of the clause that is typically affected by clause negation, which may be omitted through ellipsis and may be reduced by a pro-form. This means that in terms of clause elements, the S is distinguished from the other elements. This division, however, has more to do with the statement as a logical category than with the structural facts of grammar.
Subject Julie The train Tigers Predicate buys her vegetables in the market arrived late today are most dangerous animals

The Predicate (P) can be sub-divided into two major parts: • Operator: not all simple statements have an operator, but when it occurs it is usually the first word after the subject and is most often the first or only auxiliary: - Has a crucial role in the formation of questions. By changing the places of the subject and the operator we can transform a declarative sentence into a yes-no question or to a wh-question. → He(S) had (Operator) given the girl an apple (Predication) Had (operator) he given the girl an apple (predication)? - Also has a crucial role in negation: to make a statement negative we insert ‘not’ after the operator

Predication: the rest of the predicate is called predication. It also has some importance in the English clause, as for example the readiness with which two predications can be joined by coordination: → You should eat regularly and take some exercise


Subordination: kind of embedding, which occurs when one clause is made a constituent of another clause (embedding is the occurrence of one unit as the constituent of another unit at the same rank in the grammatical hierarchy: → in the room→ the noun phrase ‘the room’ is embedded in the prepositional phrase ‘in the room’). → This is the place (that he told you about) 5 Coordination: two or more units of the same status in the grammatical hierarchy may constitute a single unit of the same kind, without affecting their status. → You can go ((by) air or (by rail)): coordination of phrases

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1. Question 1.1. Yes-no questions
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Place the operator before the subject If there is no operator (when the corresponding positive declarative have no auxiliary), the verb ‘do’ is introduced as a ‘dummy’ auxiliary. → They often complain. Do they often complain?



If the wh-element is a subject no change should be made in the statement order → Who has borrowed my pencil? If the wh-element is some other element (O,C,A), it should be placed before the subject and between them should stand the operator. → Why have you borrowed my pencil?

2. Negation Place ‘not’ or the informal enclitic ‘n’t’ after the operator 3. Reduction Reduction are all sentence processes (transformation), which take place as means of avoiding redundancy of expression. Types of reduction:
Type of reduction None (unreduced) Pro-form Ellipsis Notes Joining two predications by using the pro-form ‘do so’ instead of one of the predications Elements of a sentence which can be predicted from the context are actually omitted Example Yes, they’re paying me for the work Yes, they are doing so Yes, they are.

4. Directives Contain no subject or operator: directives consist simply of a predication with an imperative verb. → Be quiet! 5. Exclamations As a formal category, exclamations resemble wh-questions, but differ from them in generally retaining the regular declarative order of subject and verb: → What beautiful clothes she wears! 6. Highlighting:

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Change of intonation Grammatical highlighting: - Cleft sentences6 - Existential sentences7 - Extraposition8 - Fronting9

7. Composite sentences: 7.1. 7.2. Clauzalization: a simple sentence is turned into a subordinate or a coordinate clause by means of coordination (and, or, but) or subordination (which, that, when) Phrazalization: a base sentence is turned into a phrase → They arrived -> On their arrival; Having arrived

NB: Major classes of transformation procedures are:
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Morphological changes (tense, aspect, voice, mood) Functional words (→ Now they do consider …) Substitution (pronouns, a proword) Deletion Changes of word order Intonation


Cleft sentence: enables the user to select (within limits) which element of the sentence will be highlighted (→ It’s Julie who owes me a favour) 7 Existential sentence: There was someone knocking at the door 8 Extraposition: also a device for postponing a normally non-final element to a final position (→ It doesn’t matter what you say) 9 Fronting: the opposite of extraposition, its when an element such as an object or an adverbial is placed in initial position (→ Her vegetables Julie buys in the market)

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