The English sentence
Topics: 1. Simple sentence structure, clause types: Chapter 10
2. Clause elements syntactically and semantically considered: Ch.10
3. Sentence types: Ch. 11
4. Subordination and pro-forms: Ch. 12
5. Ellipsis: Ch12
6-7. Coordination and subordination: Ch 13-14
8. Nominal clauses: Ch. 15
9. Adverbial clauses: Ch 15
10. Theme and focus: Ch 18
Sentences are of two main types: simple (one simple independent clause, each element
is realized by a phrase), and multiple_ a. compound (two or more coordinated clauses), b.
complex (one main clause and one or more elements are realized by subordinate clauses such
as a direct object or an adverbial).
Sophie had quit the job that she took only last week. ( the relative clause is part of the
NP)--- simple sentence
She lost her job although she had worked hard.- adverbial subordinated to the main
clause--- multiple, complex.
MAJOR CLAUSE TYPES –based on VERB types
1. I must teach you something. SVOiOd
2. Please leave your pets outside. Adv (S) VCdApl
3. You appear relaxed. SVCs
4. That clown swindled me. SVOd
5. They all found me rather annoying. SVOdCo
6. She is crying. SV
7. My daughter is at school. SVAdv
Ambiguity? Call me a waiter /an idiot/. a. (S)VOiOd Call a waiter for me. , b. (S)V OdCo.
(Okay, you are a waiter.)
Clause types (Subject, verb, Direct object, Indirect Objects, Subject-related and Object-related
4 criteria are used to distinguish clause elements:
a. form : finite form? , NP?
c. syntactic function
d. semantic function
e.g. They told Mrs. Clinton. Vs. They told lies. Mrs Clinton and lies are both NPs, so by form
or by position they cannot be distinguished, they are different semantically and syntactically.
According to the SYNTACTIC function, the clause elements are as follows:
1. Subject (S): present most of the time ( in imperatives it is implied)
2. Object: direct , Od vs indirect Oi. E.g. Pour me a drink vs Pour a drink for me. Quirk
et al regard only the first one an indirect object, i.e., when the object follows the verb
immediately, without a preposition (to or for). The latter (for me) is called a
prepositional object. The difference between to and for in prepositional objects: FOR
expresses the intended recipients, while TO expresses the immediate recipient.
3. Complements: Mr. Clinton is a philanderer. –current attribute, describing an already
existing attribute (typically with copular verbs). In contrast, Mr. Clinton has not
become less popular. - resulting attribute, expresses a gradual change.
4. Adverbials: the most diverse group. Handout: adjuncts, disjuncts, conjuncts.
4.b. Metaphorical extension of space relations: She‘s into drugs., These books are off
limits to students. (Quirk Ch. 10.11 – 10.16)
HANDOUT: Adjuncts, disjuncts, conjuncts
Directions: Conjuncts serve join the clause in which they appear to a preceding clause:
they point back to something already said. Disjuncts are a loosely connected comment on
the form or content of the rest of the clause. They can often be paraphrased as follows:
Seriously, he left. = I am serious in saying that he left. Adjuncts are more closely
connected to the rest of the clause: He talked seriously.
Underline each adverbial, and indicate whether it is an adjunct(A), disjuncts (D), or
1. As for scholarship, Willie is a great success.
2. Angela will consequently be the next astronaut.
3. By comparison, the movie was dull.
4. Confidentially, I hear the governor is resigning.
5. The governor spoke confidentially to the press.
6. George waited until the programme ended.
7. he was nevertheless interested.
8. In particular, he reads science fiction.
9. Possibly he is serious.
10. he can‘t possibly be serious.
11. Otherwise, there is no way to reach Little Rock.
12. Squirrels are hiding nuts in the oak tree.
13. She casually mentioned her election to Phi Beta Kappa.
14. She has rightly decided to seek advice.
15. Some advised her rightly, other wrongly.
16. They don‘t like cauliflower at all.
17. She married unfortunately. ( made a poor choice)
18. She married, unfortunately. (should have stayed single)
19. Will you lend me your book, please?
20. You should write the application in ink.
Megoldás: felvette Tamás, ezt megcsináltuk együtt.
ORDER OF CLAUSE ELEMENT: relatively fixed but some factors DO intervene.
―canonical word order‖: SVO(O), declarative sentence word order.
a. optional adverbials: In any case, : medial adverbials: I would never have done that, or
multi-word adverbials, which occur clause-finally.
c. Relative clauses, where the rel. pronoun precedes the subject
d. Exclamations: How…! What…!
e. 2nd person imperative , subject is implied but is not present
f. Informational highlighting: moves elements from their normal position, e.g. Here
comes Mr X.
g. Shorter element will precede longer one: She told him clearly what she thought of
him,. Adverbial precedes long object.
h. The verb is followed by the longer part: A petition was circulated asking for a longer
lunch break. ---asking for… acts as a postmodifier of the subject, but the short verb
intervenes. Stylistically, this is the preferred version.
5. SEMANTIC roles of clause elements:
Every clause describes a situation with participants in it. These participants are entities
realized by concrete or abstract NPs.
1. Semantic role associated with the subject
a. She is cutting her nails. – the subject has the AGENTIVE role: this is the most
typical role of the subject, usually an animate being, causing or instigating the happening
denoted by the verb.
b. the AFFECTED role of the participant: - the most typical semantic role of the
direct object_ , She sold her car last week. – the car does not cause the happening, rather, it
undergoes the actions, it is affected by it.
c. recipient participant: most typical role of the indirect object: We bought her a bike.
The recipient participant, tends to be an animate being passively implicated by the happening.
There is a distinction , on a semantic level, between the recipient role(= receiver) and
the intended recipient /beneficiary role: They sent me some money for my daughter.
d. The role of the attribute:. This is a typical semantic role of subject and object
There are two classifications: 1. current vs resulting attributes. And 2. identification
vs characterization. E.g. I am your friend.- subject and subject complement are
identical, While in She is quiet, characterization takes place.
6. SEMANTIC ROLES OF THE SUBJECT
1.agentive – typical role
2. The flood and the landslide destroyed entire villages.- role of external causer or force=
unwitting, inanimate causer of the action/ an event
3. A stone killed him.- role of instrument--- he was killed with a stone – an inanimate entity
which an agent uses to perform an action. CONTRAST: h e was killed by a stone - accidental
4. He fell off his horse. – affected role, no causation, no instigation of the action. Typical with
intrans. Verbs: this is what happens to sy.
5. Ideally, students should benefit from these lectures. – role of recipient/ experiencer. With
verbs : have, own, possess, benefit. Difference between look at and see, listen to and hear.!!!
6. Budapest lies on the two banks of the river Danube. –role of positioner. Especially with
verbs like lie, stand, sit, live, and with certain transitive verbs like carry, keep, hold, wear.
7-8-9. This room holds 100 people. : locative role
London used to be foggy. Locative
The Norman Invasion took place in 1066. eventive role. Usually derived from verbs
Tomorrow is my birthday. – temporal role .
10. prop-IT subject role: little or no semantic content: no participant, the subject function is
occupied by IT.
It is getting chilly/ late.
It‘s a long way to Budapest.
BUT: It was great disappointment to see you again. –anticipatory IT, a grammatical device,
not the same as PROP IT.
SEMANTIC ROLES OF THE DIRECT OBJECT
1. Affected participant: He sold his car. No causation, the participant is otherwise
affected by action
2. locative object, with verbs like walk, swim, pass, jump, turn, leave, reach,
climb usually fulfil this role.
i. The horse jumped the fence.---passive: The fence was jumped---only
objects can be turned into subjects of passives. We can always provide
a preposition which expresses place/location.
ii. Object of extent: He walked a mile---no passive
3. Resultant or effected object: paint a portrait, write a letter—the referent exists
only by virtue of the activity indicated by the verb. Difference between
Affected and Effected object: sell a portrait, send a letter- already existing
4. cognate objects: They lived a cat-and-dog life . They do not express an
independent participant, they are morphologically and semantically related to
the verb. They are usually modified. Can be transformed into S V Adv (e.g. He
died miserably- He died a miserable death).
5. eventive object: They argued for hours. = they had an argument . Form of a
deverbal noun.Instead of S V, S V +eventive object.
6. instrumental object: He nodded his head (“with his head”)
AFFECTED INDIRECT ONJECT
-most typical semantic role : recipient. With verbs like make, do, give, take. E.g. She gave
the door three kicks. Also, They gave the car a push. The car- affected by the action.
Question: ? She gave three kicks to the door? NO. The affected indirect object cannot
normally be paraphrased by a prepositional phrase.
BASIC ENGLISH SENTENCE STRUCTURES
A. REDUCTION/ABBREVIATION : pro-forms and ellipsis
B. EXPANSION/ELABARATION: COORDINATION VS SUBORDINATION
Reduction is a grammatical principle whereby the structure of the sentence is shortened (to
avoid redundancy of expression). The conditions for reduction and expansion are similar:
a. we need some clauses which share some common ground
b. they have to share the same structure
c. there must be repetition of certain words: there must be some common lexical content.
I., Reduction: in semantic and pragmatic terms. It is means of avoiding redundancy of
expression. Syntax is responsible for permitting certain kinds of reduction.
Motivation for reduction: - preference for economy ( ―reduce as much as possible‖)
e.g. They may get married eventually but I don‘ think they should./ they should do so.
Focus on fresh information. E.g Have you fed the cat? – Not yet. (=I have /not/ fed the cat –
!!!Reduction must be avoided when it leads to ambiguity.
Pro-form substitution: we need an antecedent (‖going before‖), which refers to the pro-
form.The bond between the pro-form and its antecedent can be of two different kinds:
a. substitution and b, co-reference (= bond between two items which refer to the same
thing). E.g. Some of the kids hurt themselves. For substitution: Frank got a scholarship
this year and Jane got one last year. ONE replaces the referent, but the two are not co-
b. Test of substitution: we must be able to replace ―some of the kids‖ without a change in
the meaning: However, Some of the kids hurt some of the kids WILL result in a
change in meaning.
Complex pro-forms: Do it, do so, do that (substitutes for predicates of predications)
IT: same action by same person is described
SO same general type of action, not necessarily carried out by the same person
THAT: surprise is expressed. EXERCISES: R.E. Close Workbook 161-167
-verbatim recoverability: the actual word(s) whose meaning is implied but obviously omitted
Criteria for ellipsis:
1. the ellipted words are precisely recoverable. She can‘ sing and she won‘t /SING/
2. the elliptical construction is grammatically defective: You can phone me tonight if you
wish… (=to phone me )
3. Knowing no French, …-not ellipsis. After inserting the missing words, we get a
grammatical sentence ---- +since I was knowing no French…
4. the missing words are textually recoverable: She gives freely to charities. (What? –
5. the exact match criterion: the missing words are present in the text in exactly the same
There is a gradient of ellipsis, sometimes not all 5 criteria are met.
Elaboration: HYPOTAXIS (=a hierarchical arrangement between two or more coordinated
clauses) ) vs PARATAXIS (=relationship between two or more coordinated clauses is equal).
Coordination: Two main types: a. syndetic= with overt signals of coordination (but, and, or),
b. asyndetic: no overt signals of coordination. (=‖unlinked‖).
Coordinating conjunctions are linking words.
E.g. Mrs X sold sweets, chocolates, and toffee apples – AND closes down the list
Mrs. X sold sweets, chocolates, toffee apples….- this is an open list, these items are just
Her first and handsome husband – paratactic relationship between first and handsome
BUT Her first handsome husband: handsome qualifies husband, first qualifies handsome
husband- hierachical/ hypotactic relationship.
Tag questions: equal arrangement.
Semantic difference between coordination and subordination:
a. She fell out wit her husband and left him- new info in both elements
b. Since she fell out with her husband, she left him. The since clause carries background
/old info and the main clause carries new information.
2 types of coordination of noun phrases:
a. combinatory = the conjoins function ―in combination‖ with respect to the rest of the clause:
eg. John and Mary make a pleasant couple (―together‖)
b. segregatory, e.g. John and Mary know the answer. – not together
ambiguity: John and Mary won a prize. Together? Separately?
Indicators of segregatory meaning: both…and, each, (n)either…(n)or, respectively, apiece.
? They sell manual and electric typewriters.
They sell salmon and cucumber sandwiches.
Indian and Chinese tea /?s/ smell/ smells?/ totally different.
Red and white cabbage is/are?/ useful ingredients of a salad.
He sells old and valuable books.
Combinatory interpretation: a. joint participation, b. mutual , c. unitary participation (law
A subordinate clause can be downgraded to a sub-clausal unit, e.g a prep. Phrase:
I‘ll have left by 6 o’cock. –I‘ll have left by the time you come home.
The same subord. clause can enter a number of relationships.
3 main types of clauses: a. finite: the verb element is finite
b. non-finite: infinitive, -ING clauses,
c. verbless, e.g. Whether right or wrong, he decided to quit.
Formal indicators of subordination:
1. subordinators (although, because,as, such that,no sooner than, etc.)
AS may have more than one semantic function : time, cause, proportional meaning.
2. Other indicators of subordination: wh- elements, relative pronoun THAT, inversion,
absence of a finite verb.
Syntactic functions of subordinate clauses:
Match the types to the syntactic functions in the following subordinate clauses: subject,
subject complement, direct object, indirect object, object complement, adjectival
complementation, adverbial, apposition (restrictive vs non-restrictive), post-modifier, non-
finite subordinate clause,
I. 1. I was shocked to hear about your accident.
2. I have always known him to be a fraud.
3. If you answer whoever replied to your ad, it will take ages.
4. One more danger of your promotion will be that that you‗ll spend even more
time away from your family.
5. How she can collect so many recipes amazes me.
6. he still doesn‘t know whether he should get married.
7. Although he tries his best, he doesn‘t seem to succeed.
8. It all depends on what you want to do.
9. Nobody filled out the questionnaire that I had circulated.
II. 1. Your idea, that drinking water should be fluoridated, needs looking at.
2. I was astonished that so few of the students showed up.
3. I understood that he was only trying to help.
4. That he spreads gossip out of spite no longer bothers anyone.
5. My suspicion was that the authorities had long been aware of the problem.
III. Match the syntactic functions with the nominal clauses:
1. You can call me whatever you like.
2. What I need is a good night‘s sleep.
3. December is when we usually have snow.
4. I will give whoever fixes my washing machine 5 000 FTs.
5. I will make up the entire exam: what I have told you in the lectures and what
you will have to read from Quirk et al.
6. I was quite clear on which of them I would support.
7. You should contact whoever made this reservation for you.
8. You will have to put up with whoever you choose as a spouse.