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TEMA 27. La oracin compleja: la subordinacin (3). Oraciones adverbiales.

estructura y elementos constituyentes


A complex sentence contains one independent clause and at least one dependent
clause. Unlike a compound sentence, however, a complex sentence contains clauses
which are not equal. Consider the following examples:
Simple: My friend invited me to a party. I do not want to go.
Compound My friend invited me to a party, but I do not want to go.
Complex Although my friend invited me to a party, I do not want to go.
In the first example, there are two separate simple sentences: "My friend invited me to a
party" and "I do not want to go." The second example joins them together into a single
sentence with the co-ordinating conjunction "but," but both parts could still stand as
independent sentences -- they are entirely equal, and the reader cannot tell which is
most important. In the third example, however, the sentence has changed quite a bit: the
first clause, "Although my friend invited me to a party," has become incomplete, or a
dependent clause.
A complex sentence is very different from a simple sentence or a compound
sentence because it makes clear which ideas are most important. When you write
My friend invited me to a party. I do not want to go.
or even
My friend invited me to a party, but I do not want to go.
The reader will have trouble knowing which piece of information is most
important to you. When you write the subordinating conjunction "although" at the
beginning of the first clause, however, you make it clear that the fact that your friend
invited you is less important than, or subordinate, to the fact that you do not want to go.
There are different subcategories of complex sentences. I am going to
concentrate on adverbial clauses.
Adverbial clauses do the work of adverbs. Therefore, adverbial clauses, like
adverbial adjuncts, usually qualify the main clause as a whole. In accordance with the
meaning expressed they can be divided into various semantic categories, which may be
related to those for adverbials in general and for prepositional phrases. Thus, we have
adverbial clauses of time, place, cause, or reason, purpose, result, condition, concession
or contrast, comparison, manner, restriction, and perhaps one or two more. The meaning
intended is usually indicated by the introductory conjunction, though it sometimes has
to be inferred from the sentence as a whole.
Adverbial clauses, like adverbials in general, are capable of occurring in a final,
initial or medial position within the main clause (generally in that order of frequency).

My scheme will be to discuss the different types of adverbial clauses in English,

paying special attention to those who seem to be different in structure from their
equivalents in Spanish.
a) Temporal clauses or clauses of time: Temporal clauses indicate when an action is
done. These clauses can be introduced by one of the following subordinators: after, as
before, once, since, till, until, when (ever), while, whilst, now (that), as long as, as soon
as, immediately (that), directly (that), than (dependent upon no soonerin the main
clause). Temporal clauses are common in initial position. The tenses used in adverb
clauses of time are almost the same as in Spanish:
When I last saw you, you lived in Washington.
Buy your tickets as soon as you reach the station.
1- The largest group comprises those which speak of a matter of fact in present or past
time: a present tense in the principal clause takes a present tense in the time clause; a
past tense in the principal clause takes a past tense in the time clause (in general):
They waited till the ship sailed / A telegram came after you had gone
As you go out, please close the door / I like perfect quietness when I am working.
2- If the action of the temporal clause is prospective (i.e. if the temporal clause refers to
the future, whether from a present or past time of view), the commonest construction in
modern English is normally the indicative mood: in present tense with reference to the
future time, in past tense with reference to the future in the past:
I shall wait until you come back.
He determined to resign before the crash came.
But other constructions are also possible: the subjunctive mood may be employed,
(limited to poetry and higher prose); a commoner construction, however, is shall or
should with the infinitive (regarded as forming a subjunctive-equivalent and not as a
mere future tense):
The tree will wither long before it fall. (Byron) (subjunctive).
I am waiting until he shall return.
He determined to wait by the roadside until it should be dark.
Note that when indicates a point of time, as introduces a clause describing an action
in progress:
He turned pale when he saw me / It struck me as I was speaking.

b) Local clauses or clauses of place: They indicate where an action is done. Adverbial
clauses of place are introduced by where, wherever, whence. The construction in
place clauses is similar to that in time clauses:
1- Local clauses which speak of a matter of fact in present and past time take the
indicative mood (the same tenses as time clauses):
Remain where you are / Go back where you came from.
2- If the action of the local clause refers to the future, the usual construction is the
simple present. But we may sometimes have another construction with shall or
Where the tree falls, there it shall lie / I will go where you tell me.
Where the tree shall fall, there it shall lie.
3- When the local clause referring to future time is introduced by wherever, we often
have may or might (future in the past) as a subjunctive equivalent:
I will find her wherever she may be.
He did his duty wherever he might be.
c) Causal clauses or clauses of reason: These clauses indicate why an action is done.
They may be introduced by subordinators because, as, since, seeing that, now that.
The difference between a clause introduced by as and one beginning with because
is that in the former (which usually comes first) the emphasis in on the main clause, in
the latter (which usually comes second) on the sub-clause. Since agrees with as in
this respect, but implies at the same time that the cause or reason in an indisputed fact:
As you are not ready, we must go on.
He sold the car because it was too small.
Since there is no help, let us try to bear it as best we may.
Additional emphasis is given to the adverb clause od reason when it is preceded
by it is.., it was etc. and followed by that. In this construction because must
always be used:
It was because the car was so small that he sold it.
The conjunction that may also introduce adverbial clauses of cause. Such
clauses usually follow a main clause that is either a negative exclamation or a rhetorical
question. The clause gives the reason for what is expressed in the exclamation or
I am not a cow that you should expect me to eat grass.

Am I a cow that you should offer me grass?

d) Final clauses or clauses of purpose: These clauses normally answer the question
what for?. They are usually introduced by so that, in order that (very formal), that,
and the somewhat archaic lest (modern for fear that, so thatnot). Final clauses
are expressed in the following tenses:
1- When affirmative clauses or purpose are introduced by in order that, so that and
(more literary) that alone, several modal verbs are used: may is generally used for
present and future time and might for past time. In colloquial style can and could
are also used. Should is also used:
They are climbing higher so that they may (can) get a better view.
They climbed higher so that they might (could) get a better view.
The decision was made so that peace should prevail.
2- In negative clauses of purpose, including those introduced by least, shall is used
for present time and should for past time.
I hid the book lest he should see it.
I hid the book so that he should not see it.
3- But clauses of purpose are more often expressed by means of a to-infinitive,
especially when the subject of the subordinate clause is the same person or thing as the
subject of the principal clause. in order to is rather more formal and more emphatic
than to alone. When the idea of result is also present the infinitive is often preceded
by so as to:
I come to bury Caesar not to praise him.
He has gone to England in order to perfect his knowledge of English.
I shall go on working late today so as to be free tomorrow.
4- Purpose is also indicated by the construction for+(pro)noun+infinitive when the
subject of the principal clause is different from that of the final clause:
I stood aside for her to enter (so that she might enter).
He brought some papers for me to sign.
e) Consecutive clauses or clauses of result: Clauses of result overlap with those of
purpose both in meaning and in form. The main difference, according to Quirk, is that
result clauses as factual rather than putative, (i.e. factual means that the plan or idea
expressed by the clause will be carried out, while putative expresses an idea or plan
which may not be fulfilled). Clauses of result may be introduced by that or so that.
Informally, the that of so that is omitted:

He was speaking very quietly, so (that) it was difficult to hear his words.
I took no notice of him, so he flew into a rage.
As we can observe, this construction differs from the similar construction
introducing a clause of purpose, in that it may contain an ordinary verb form without a
modal auxiliary.
A clause of result associated with degree is introduced by so.that, or
suchthat; in this case, that can be left out:
I was so tired (that) I could hardly stand.
It was such a warm day that I took off my jacket.
This type of clause may also be introduced by soas to + infinitive:
Would you be so kind as to carry this?
f) If-clauses or clauses of condition: These clauses state the dependence of one
circumstance or set of circumstances on another. They may be introduced by if,
supposing, so long as. Emphatic condition is expressed by provided (that), on
condition that. Clauses of negative condition may be introduced by ifnot or
These sentences fall into two main classes, which are distinguished by the form
and meaning of the main clause:
1- Clauses expressing a condition that is not, or is not likely to be, realized are called
clauses of rejected condition; they contain a modal preterit or pluperfect:
If the sky were to fall, we should catch larks.
If I had taken your advice, all this misery might have been avoided.
2- When the condition may or may not be fulfilled, they are called clauses of open
I shall go if he asks me.
I shant go unless he asks me.
There is another way of introducing a conditional clause: it is sometimes
expressed by a simple inversion of subject and verb without a conjunction; the
construction is mainly literary:
Should he call, tell him I am not at home.
Had I taken your advice, all this misery might have been avoided
3- Special types of conditional clauses

Apart from the types of conditional clauses outlined above, there are some less
usual types involving special verb forms and syntactic orderings.
To express an open condition, the present subjunctive is sometimes used in the
conditional clause, instead of the normal present tense:
If any person be found guilty, he shall have the right of appeal.
This usage is mainly confined to very formal, legal or quasi-legal contexts. There are
also alternative ways of expressing hypothetical conditions. They are:
a) was/were to followed by the infinitive:
If it was/were to rain, we should get wet.
b) should followed by the infinitive:
If a serious crisis should arise, the public would have to be informed of it.
A device which may replace the subordinator if in signaling a conditional clause
is the inversion of subject and operator, particularly with the operator had in
hypothetical clauses:
Had I known, I would have written before.
g) Concessive clauses or clauses of concession (or contrast): Concessive clauses
imply a contrast between two circumstances, i.e. that in the light of the circumstance in
the dependent clause, that in the main clause is surprising. These clauses are introduced
chiefly by although or its more colloquial variant though, while and whereas
are sometimes used to point a contrast between comparable things. Even if and even
though are also concessive in meaning:
Though (although) he tried hard, he was not successful.
The USA has immense mineral wealth, while (whereas) Britain has comparatively
little (contrast clause).
He borrowed my mower, even though I told him not to.
Concessive clauses take the verb forms as follows:
1- In concessive clauses which imply a fact the verb is in the indicative mood:
Though he talks a great deal, there is not much in what he says.
2- In concessive clauses which refer to future time (whether from a present or a past
point of view), it is common to use the subjunctive mood or a subjunctive equivalent
with should. The indicative, however, is often employed without any appreciable
difference of meaning:

Though everyone desert/ deserts/should desert you, I will not.

Even if he should fail this time, he can try again.
Now we come to see some special types of concessive clauses:
A) In a type of concessive clause with as or that an adjective or adverb is given
front position for emphasis:
Naked that I was, I braved the storm (=even though I was naked..)
Rich as he is, I dont envy him (=although he is rich..)
B) There is a class of concessive clause, formerly common but now of limited range,
in which the verb in the subjunctive comes first. This is now used chiefly with the
present tense and in sentences like the following, where the subject of the subjunctive
has a relative clause attached:
We cannot receive him, be he who he may.
Come what may, we must remain cheerful.
Say what you will, I shall still trust to my own judgement.
C) Alternative conditional-concessive clause is the name given by Quirk to a clause
introduced by whetheror. This clause combines the conditional meaning of if
with the disjunctive meaning of eitheror and with the meaning of surprise which is
peculiar to concessive clauses:
Whether they beat us or we beat them, the result will be the same.
You will have to face the publicity, whether you want or not.
D) Quirk gives the name of universal conditional-concessive clause to a clause
introduced by compounds in -ever when it indicates a free choice from any number of
conditions and has concessive implication:
She looks pretty whatever she wears.
However much advice you give him, he does exactly what he wants.
Concessive clauses of this kind may also be introduced by the word matter:
No matter how hard I try, I can never catch up with him.
Among minor kinds of adverbial clauses, four may be mentioned: those of
manner, comparison, proportion and restriction:
h) Clauses of manner: They indicate how an action is done and are usually introduced
by the conjunctions as, as if, as though, or often, in substandard English, by how

I will do as you advise.

You look as if you had seen a ghost.
He has a right to spend his money how he pleases.
As also introduces a manner clause which involves comparison:
They hunted him as a tiger stalks his prey (= in a manner similar to)
If this type of as-clause is placed initially, the correlative form so, in formal literary
English, may introduce the main clause:
As a tiger stalks his prey, (so) they hunted him.
i) Comparative clauses or clauses of comparison: These clauses are introduced by
as (preceded by so, such, as in the main clause), than (preceded by a
comparative in the main clause).
This job is not so (as) easy as you think.
This question is easier than I thought.
A that-clause subordinated to than takes the subjunctive or more commonly its
equivalent, should with infinitive:
I desire nothing more than that you should come
He treats me as if/though I am/were a stranger.
The use of the hypothetical past makes little difference here, since both the present and
past form imply the unreality of what is expressed in the subordinate clause (it is
assumed from both sentences that I am not a stranger).
j) Clauses of proportion: proportional clauses are an extension of the category of
adverbial clauses of comparison; they express a proportionality or equivalence of
tendency or degree between two circumstances. They may be introduced by as (with
or without the formal matching correlative form so).
As time went on, (so) their hopes began to wane.
There is another construction used to express proportionality: the correlatives
the.the followed by the comparative forms:
The more you work, the more you earn.
The sooner we get there, the more likely are we to get seats.
The restructuring can only take place, however, if both clauses contain comparative
forms. The fronting of the comparatives in both clauses results in the kind of syntactic
orderings one finds in relative and wh-clauses

The latter you arrive (ASV), the better the food is (..CSV).
k) Clauses of restriction: Jespersen and Zandvoort include this type of clause among
adverbial clauses. Some examples of them are:
As far as I can see, he cannot be more than thirty.
That is all right, as far as I am concerned.
The man may be dead, for all I know.
In any case, the initial proportional clause is regarded as an adverbial within the main
clause. Since both clauses in a proportional sentence are of the same general pattern,
however, it is not obvious why the first part of the sentence, and not the second, should
be treated as the subordinate clause. Apart from the parallel with as(so) sentences, the
reason for this analysis lies in the general principle that subordination by means of
correlative conjunctions (except for comparative correlatives and the whether or
construction) entails placing the subordinate clause first.
l) Clauses of preference: The conjunctions of preference rather than and sooner than
deserve mention as the only subordinators introducing a bare infinitive clause:
Rather/Sooner than travel by air, Id prefer a week on a big liner.
In conclusion, it will have been observed that several conjunctions may
introduce more than one kind of adverbial clause. Thus as long as may introduce a
clause expressing either time or condition; since, time or reason; so that, purpose,
result or condition; if condition or concession, as, time, reason, comparison,
manner, proportion or concession.
The meanings of adverbial clauses often shade off into one another; thus time
and condition in clauses introduced by as long as; purpose and result in clauses
introduced by so that; condition and concession in clauses introduced by if, etc.


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