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THE COMPLEX SENTENCE – A CLASSIFICATION OF DEPENDENT CLAUSES As previously shown, the complex sentence is made up of at least one main

clause and a dependent or a subordinate one. Unlike in the case of compound sentences which are based on coordination - the complex sentence relies heavily on the process of subordination. This is the reason why a classification of subordinate clauses should be in order. Nota bene! The complex sentence is made up of main clauses and other subordinate clauses. e.g. If you want to listen to Bohemian Rhapsody, turn on the stereo and you will hear the most amazing combination of sounds which will certainly delight you. Classifying dependent clauses will employ two main criteria: 1. the FUNCTIONAL one – which, as the name suggests it, takes into consideration the syntactic function of the respective clause. From the functional point of view, subordinates can be classified into: a) subject clauses (1) Whoever did that was a genius. (Cel care a făcut acest lucru a fost un geniu.) (2) It seems that he is not your friend. (Se pare că nu îţi este prieten.) b) object clauses – this class includes direct objects, indirect objects and prepositional objects: (3) I believe that he is not here. (Direct Object) (Cred că nu este acolo.) (4) I am afraid that he won’t come (Prepositional Object) (Mi-e teamă că nu o să vină.) (5) I gave this to whomever wanted it. (Indirect Object) (Am dat asta cui a vrut-o.) At this point we need to provide some further explanation. An OBJECT refers to only those items (phrases, sentences) required by the verb (or, in certain cases, by an adjective + preposition, such as proud of, for example). They have the feature [+ obligatory] and, even on the rare occasions when they can be omitted, they are still presupposed by the speaker. For instance, the verb give is always accompanied in our mind by its obligatory complements (direct and indirect objects): (6) He gave the book (DO) to her (IO). (I-a dat cartea.)


In a way. an adverbial item. The second example. an additional one. These non-obligatory items are called adjuncts. it is added to the verbal phrase in order to provide extra information. but its effect remains even after its wipeout. We do not presuppose however something like. a phrase such as willingly is adjoined to the verb and its obligatory objects.e. A second observation. for instance.) b. Last but not least. Thus. If it so happens that the object appears after a transitive verb. In other words. So. has to do with why we consider the subordinate that he won’t come to be a prepositional object. make. (Mi-e teamă că n-o să vină. (7) He willingly gave the book to her. related to example (4).Whenever we think of this particular verb. The term comes from the verb to adjoin. (I-a dat cartea de bună voie. They normally have an adverbial (circumstantial) interpretation: 2 .) The example under (8a) is the basic structure: an adjective and the prepositional object it selects. I am afraid that he won’t come. That is why we choose to call ‘prepositional object’ the ‘that-clause’ following the adjective afraid. like. i. The subordinating conjunction THAT has completely replaced the preposition. please check what particular item requires its presence in the sentence. we associate it with these objects. we need to draw attention to the important fact that direct objects are normally required by transitive verbs. such as a manner adverbial: with pleasure/willingly. etc. The third class is made up of (c) adjuncts – those clauses (or phrases) whose presence is not obligatorily required by a verb or an adjective. I am afraid of his not coming/of this fact. The explanation is simple: this subordinate can be easily replaced by a phrase preceded by a preposition. to her) and one extraitem. then you have your typical case of ‘direct object’. such as want. under (8b) represents the derived structure: the prepositional object is replaced by a ‘that clause’. we presuppose their existence in connection with the presence of the verb give in a sentence. which is the adverbial willingly. before you decide on what label to stick on an object.) In (7) we can identify the verb’s obligatory objects ( the book. since English no longer allows for a conjunction and a preposition to be put together: (9) *I am afraid of that he won’t come. to add something. So far we have discussed subject clauses and object clauses. We presuppose that the preposition of has been deleted. (Mi-e teamă că n-o să vină. and this preposition is in fact required and presupposed as accompanying the adjective afraid: (8) a.

2. (Ştiam că mă simpatizează. MODIFIERS e.(10) Before she left the room she closed all the windows. [. (Dacă nu te însori cu mine. am să mor. etc.) (13) The red-wearing woman was sitting next to him on the platform. FOR. Whoever did a) Direct: I that was a believe that he genius. (Femeia în roşu stătea lângă el pe peron. not object. (the term complement is a false friend: it does not have the same meaning as the one we use in Romanian.g. They came to an agreement because they wanted to go home. in example (16) the complement for him to leave fulfills the function of subject.) (17) I wanted to leave immediately. (Femeia în roşu stătea lângă el pe peron. The Romanian term is translated by object in English.) (16) It is advisable for him to leave. b) Indirect: Give this to whomever wants it. We classify dependent clauses according to what introductory element they exhibit: a) complement clauses – mainly those clauses introduced by THAT.) (14) I knew that he liked me.obligatory] ADJUNCTS e.) (d) attributes or modifiers – those clause (or phrases) that characterize nominal phrases: (12) The woman who was wearing red was sitting next to him on the platform.g. (E de dorit să plece. (Înainte să plece din cameră. c) Prepositional: He was afraid that she might come back. 3 . is smart. The book that you gave me was very boring. I’ll die. As you can see.) (11) If you don’t marry me.g. WHETHER. the functional criterion we employed has helped us classify subordinate clauses as follows: SUBORDINATE CLAUSES [+ obligatory] SUBJECTS OBJECTS e.) (15) I didn’t know whether he would visit me in jail. a închis toate ferestrele. The second criterion we employ to differentiate between various subordinate clauses is the STRUCTURAL one.) To sum up so far. (Nu ştiam dacă o să mă viziteze la închisoare.

But we are going to show that we can 4 . the categories are reduced to only three in this case.) b) wh-complements – those clauses introduced by a wh-word/phrase (such as what. for instance. where. these ones are introduced by subordinating conjunctions with a distinct semantic charge. the meaning of the subordinate (that of a time adverbial clause).) These include: • indirect questions (18) I didn’t know who had killed him. that is function of the subordinating conjunction/adverb/pronoun that introduces the respective clause. Where he went is London. (Mi-a spus aceasta înainte să plece. In (18). Compare. consider the following table.) • pseudo-cleft sentences (16) a. the following two clauses: (17) She told me that I was a fool. which sums up this classification.) (c) adverbial clauses – those clauses subordinated by such adverbial conjunctions as: although. why. (Mi-a spus că sunt un prost. (Locul în care s-a dus este Londra. (John este cel care a făcut asta. who. Unlike complement clauses. (Cel care a făcut asta este John.(Am vrut să plec imediat. however. etc. is offered and imposed by the subordinating conjunction not by the main clause verb. if. which. how. done from a structural point of view. (Mi-era groază de ce ar putea spune. before. As you will see. In conclusion.) • relative clauses (14) I was afraid of what he might say. etc. and this is why it is the verb that has to dictate the sense of its object. The subordinating conjunction that is abstract in meaning. when. Who did it was John.) b.) In (17) the meaning of the subordinate clause is imposed by the verb in the main clause. 3 (Nu ştiam cine l-a ucis.) • cleft sentences (15) It is John who did it.) (18) She told me this before she left.

g.COMPLEMENTS Introduced by wh words: e. before. As you have probably noticed already. as. after.g. Consider the following table: SUBORDINATE CLAUSES [+ obligatory] [.trace correspondences between the classes of embedded clauses mentioned under 4. I don’t know whether he will come back. the four classes discussed under the first classification do not completely correspond to the three classes discussed under 4. etc.: e.2. a correspondence can be traced. I will go there because I feel like it. for. let us try and look at how these two types of classification can be fit in the same picture .1. whether: e. A Cross-Classification of Dependent Clauses Now that we have seen two possible ways of classifying subordinate clauses. and the ones we are characterizing in the table below: SUBORDINATE CLAUSES COMPLEMENT CLAUSES Introduced by that.obligatory] 5 . a.g. I will come back when I feel like it. ADVERBIAL CLAUSES Introduced by adverbial conjunctions/adverbs such as because. WH. However.

This problem will also be the topic of the next chapter. Thirdly. that complements are not the same as relative that complements: there is a clear-cut distinction between a sentence like (19) I think that she likes me.complement. i. you will have to choose from the four possible functions mentioned here.) and (20) The girl that likes me is pretty.g. whenever you identify a wh. (Cred că mă place. Wh Complements Wh Complements can be can be adjuncts: e.e. We will come back to that in the next chapter. că This table makes a few things obvious: firstly. (Fata care mă place e frumuşică. I told her everything after Nota bene! she arrived. ADJUNCTS MODIFIERS . none of the three classes we have mentioned under 2.g. Secondly. So.g.g.) The translation of the word that in Romanian disambiguates between these two readings. 6 . al) Whoever did that was a genius. adjuncts: e.g. modifiers (or I helped her attributes): whenever she e. since they are translated differently in English: care vs. complements. That he e. Wh Complements can be objects: e. which/ that you left on the table is very Adverbials can be interesting.. The book asked me to. I know loved her was that he likes clear. the only category that can fulfill any syntactical function is the one containing wh complements. wh complements and adverbials can fulfill all the functions we introduced in the table under 1. I don’t know what you want (Direct)/ I am interested in what you know (Prepositional)/ I gave this to whomever wanted it (Indirect).g. Relative that is not the same as Complement that.g.SUBJECTS OBJECTS Complements can Complements can be subjects: be objects: e. her (Direct)/ I was afraid that she knew the truth Wh Complements (Preposition can be subjects: e.

Key Concepts We classify dependent (i. • English makes use of prepositional objects that are normally required by the fact that the main verb/adjective is accompanied by an obligatory preposition (e. their introductory elements (e. adverbial clauses can only be adjuncts. because. offer a plus of meaning to the nominal they accompany). • The Romanian term complement indirect (i. whereas wh complements are the hardest to figure out. etc. subordinate or embedded) clauses according to their function into subjects. According to a structural criterion. indirect object) is only available in English for Dative objects. objects (which are always obligatorily required by a verb or adjective). answering the question to whom? So. Nota bene! Wh Complements can have any syntactical function. A very good reason for that is the fact that in the case of adverbials. these clauses can be complements. because they modify. since it is not as frequent in English as it is in Romanian. Don’t forget three important points made in this chapter: • there is no correspondence between the Romanian complement and the English one.) We use the term prepositional object even for those cases when the preposition imprinted in the lexical entry of the verb is not visible: I thought that he was smart.e.g. think of. Adverbials can only be adjuncts. This means that adverbial clauses are the easiest to identify. after. interested in. before. A complete syntactic analysis of a sentence will have to take into consideration both criteria we have discussed in this chapter. be very careful to use this term correctly.In the fourth place. look at.g. 4. adjuncts and attributes (or modifiers. 7 .e. etc) give very clear information about the function and meaning of the subordinate they introduce. whcomplements and adverbials (which normally correspond to the Romanian complement circumstanţial). which regards the introductory conjunction / pronoun/ relative adverb of the subordinate. since the English term has nothing to do with syntactical function.