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Lecture 13: Clauses and Sentences

1. Types of relationship between clauses

2. Expanding linguistic units (conjunctions)

3. Finite and non-finite clauses (sub-types)

 Finite subordinate clauses in English



Types of relationship between clauses

Syntactic Semantic

equivalence expansion
(coordination & apposition-grammatical through
construction in which 2 elements, normally (a) elaborating
noun phrases, are placed side by side, with 1
subordination) (b) extending
element serving to identify the other in a
different way) (c) enhancing

1 It is a nice piece of furniture, but (it is) too large for this room. (coordination)
2 It must be genuine; it has the hallmark. (appositive clauses)
3 Although these students like this course, they did not want me to teach them in the next semester.
4 She kept quiet; she said nothing. (elaboration)
5 The husband kept quiet but his wife continued shouting. (extension)
6 The husband was afraid and so he kept quiet all night long. (enhancement)

Syntactic relationships vs. semantic relationships

 The syntactic relationship is 1 of interdependency.

 Clauses are related to each other basically in 1 of 2 ways: either the relationship is 1 of
equivalence, both or all clauses having the same syntactic status, or the relationship is 1 of
nonequivalence, the clauses having a different status, 1 being dependent on another.

 Coordination & apposition display relationships of equivalence, while dependency &

subordination are based on non-equivalence.

 The semantic relations are very varied, as they represent the way the speaker or writer
conceptualizes the connection made between 1 clause & another, at 1 point in the discourse.

 Such connections don’t simply link clauses within a sentence, however, but also clauses within a
paragraph & paragraphs within discourse.

 These semantic relations can be grouped together under the heading of expansion, by which 1
clause expands another by clarifying or exemplifying (elaboration); by adding or contrasting some
feature (extension), or by providing circumstantial information such as time, cause & condition


 Linguistic units can be expanded to enable the speaker or writer to add further information which
is, nevertheless, contained within the chosen structure at any point in the discourse.
 Expanding linguistic units can be done through coordination, subordination & embedding of
various classes of elements, with the reminder that most elements of structure can be realized
more than once, recursively.




 A 3rd way of expanding the content & the structure of a linguistic unit is by embedding, a kind of
subordination by which a clause functions as a constituent of another clause or of a group.
 This is a pervasive phenomenon in both spoken & written English & is found in elements such as
the following, where the embedded clause is enclosed in square brackets:


♠ The central members of the coordinator category are and, or, & but.

♠ In traditional grammar they’re called 'coordinating conjunctions'.

♠ Their function is to mark the coordination of 2 or more expressions, where coordination is a

relation between elements of equal syntactic status.

♠ This syntactic equality is typically reflected in the ability of any 1 element to stand in place of the
whole coordination, as in:
i. We need a long table and at least eight chairs.
ii a. We need a long table. b. We need at least eight chairs.

♠ In [i] we’ve a coordination of a long table & at least eight chairs, each of which can occur in
place of the whole, as evident from the 2 examples in [ii].


 The most central members of the subordinator category are that, whether, & one use of if- the one
that is generally interchangeable with whether (as in I don 't know whether/if it's possible).
 These words serve to mark a clause as subordinate.

a) He did his best. (main clause)

b) I realise [that he did his best]. (subordinate clause)

 He did his best in [a] is a main clause, one which, in this example, forms a sentence by itself.

 Addition of the subordinator changes it into a subordinate clause.

 Subordinate clauses characteristically function as a dependent element within the structure of a

larger clause.

 In [b] that he did his best is a dependent of the verb realise, & hence is part of the larger clause ‘I
realise that he did his best’.

 That is often optional: in I realise he did his best the clause he did his best is still subordinate, but
it’s not overtly marked as such in its own structure.

Subordinating conjunction

Subordinating conjunction Relationship

unless, provided that, if, even if Condition

because, as, as if Reason

rather than, than, whether Choice

though, although, even though, but Contrast

where, wherever Location

in order that, so, so that, that Result, effect

while, once, when, since, as whenever, after, before, until, as soon Time

Subordinate clauses in English

Main clause Subordinate clause

i. a Nadia is the best candidate. b. I agree that Nadia is the best candidate.

ii a He was looking at a book. b. This is the book he was looking at.

iii a I gave him my book. b. I made a mistake in giving him my book.

 Subordinate clauses often differ in their internal structure from main clauses.

 The underlined clause in [ib], a dependent in clause structure, is marked as subordinate by its
introductory word that, which is a subordinator.

 The underlined clause in [iib], a dependent in NP structure, is marked as subordinate by having a

missing NP, the understood object of the preposition at.

 The underlined clause in [iiib], a dependent in PP structure, is marked as subordinate by having its
subject left understood & its verb in gerund-participle form.

Sentences Combining

 The highest grammatical unit is traditionally called the sentence.

 The term ‘sentence’ is widely used to refer to quite different types of unit.

 Grammatically, it’s the highest unit & consists of 1 independent clause, or > 2 related clauses.

 Orthographically & rhetorically, it’s that unit which starts with a capital letter & ends with a full
stop, question mark or exclamation mark.

 Three possible types of sentence are usually distinguished:

1 The simple sentence
2 The compound sentence
3 The complex sentence

 The simple sentence consists basically of 1 independent clause, as in Huda bought the tickets.

 The independent clause is the unit we consider primary, in that it comprises minimal grammatical
completeness & unity.

 The compound sentence consists basically of two independent clauses, linked in a relationship of
coordination, as in Huda bought the tickets and Catherine parked the car.

 The complex sentence consists basically of 1 independent clause & 1 dependent clause, linked in
a relationship of dependency, as in Huda bought the tickets, while Catherine parked the car.

 In connected discourse, however, the combinations may be more complex & variable than this
simple outline suggests.
 Coordination & subordination of clauses don’t necessarily occur unrelatedly, each in combination
with a main clause.
 More often they interrelate.
 Numerous combinations are possible.
 In the sentence below, a combination of clauses occurs in a report about the dangers of walking
on hills:
However, hillwalking is largely safe (1) but there are risks (2) and we have to educate people
about these risks (3) if we are going to improve safety (4).



 Every main clause needs a finite verb.

 A finite verb is marked for tense or aspect & needs a subject e.g. he walked.

 Finite clauses are clauses containing a subject & finite verb (marked for tense, person, & no.).

 There are 3 main types of finite dependent clauses:

 that-clauses:
 adverbial clauses, and
 wh-clauses.

Examples for finite clauses

• That coffee grows in Brazil is well known to all.
• I know that coffee grows in Brazil.
• The words popped out before I had time to check them.
• She felt embarrassed because she wore only a thin T-shirt.
• Who asked questions?
• Who did you vote for?


 A non-finite verb is not marked for tense or aspect & doesn’t have a subject.
 I asked him to do that.
 Having done that, I went home.

 Nonfinite clauses are formed with a nonfinite verb, a verbal element that isn’t marked for person,
number, or tense.
 By definition, nonfinite clauses are always dependent, or embedded, since a main clause must
have a finite verb.
 The first nonfinite form is the bare infinitive (what we have encountered before as the stem form
of the verb), as in the following:
 The teacher made me do it.
 I saw John leave.
 The 2nd nonfinite form is the to-infinitive, consisting of to followed by the stem form of the verb
or auxiliary.
 I want to give you a present.
 He seems to have left.
 She wants to be given more responsibility.
 The third nonfinite form is the -ing participle, or present participle. It too occurs in a number of
different forms, always beginning with an -ing form:
 Having arrived late, she missed much of the concert.
 Having been writing for a long time, she took a break.
 He resents having been asked to help.


Subclasses of finite subordinate clause

Type/subclasses Examples

Relative clause They weren't among the people who had been invited.

Comparative clause More people came than had been invited.

Content clause I don 't think that these people had been invited.

Declarative content clauses

 The major feature that can distinguish declarative content clauses from their main clause
counterparts is the subordinator that which can be obligatory, optional, or inadmissible.
 The subordinator ‘that’ is considered obligatory where the content clause is the subject of the
matrix clause. It is likewise obligatory if the content clause is pre-posed so as to precede the
subject, as in That I need help I can 't deny.

 That is inadmissible in a clause that is complement to a preposition like before in [ii].

 Most prepositions exclude that; there are only a very few (such as notwithstanding, in order, &
provided), which allow it.
 Elsewhere, that is in general optional, as we see in [iii].
 It’s more likely to be omitted in informal than in formal style, & it’s more likely to be omitted
after short & common verbs than after longer & less frequent ones.
 E.g., ‘This will demonstrate that it is genuine’, the subordinator would probably not be omitted.

Closed interrogatives content clauses and the subordinators whether and if

 Whereas main clause closed interrogatives are marked by subject auxiliary inversion, their
subordinate counterparts are normally introduced by 1 of the interrogative subordinators whether
& if, followed by basic subject predicate order.

Open interrogatives content clauses

 Open interrogatives, whether main or subordinate, are marked by the presence of an interrogative
phrase containing 1 of the interrogative words who, what, which, etc.
 In main clauses the interrogative phrase usually occupies initial position, &, if it’s not subject, its
placement in this position triggers subject-auxiliary inversion.
 In subordinate clauses, however, the interrogative phrase is initial & there’s normally no inversion

Exclamative content clauses

 Exclamative clauses, main or subordinate, are marked by an initial exclamative phrase containing
how or what.
 In main but not subordinate clauses, subject-auxiliary inversion is permitted if the exclamative
phrase is in non-subject function, but it’s rare.

 For the most part, therefore, there’s no internal difference btwn subordinate & main exclamatives.