Composite sentence

LECTURE VIII. COMPOSITE SENTENCE

General notions. Polypredicative constructions
Compound sentences
Complex sentences
Semi-clauses
Practical tasks and assignments

General notions. Polypredicative constructions

A composite sentence has two or more predicative lines (clauses). A composite sentence expresses a complicated act of thought. 

There exist two principal constructions of composite sentences:

  1. Complex sentences are built according to the principle of hypotaxis (subordination, i.e. one independent clause and one or several dependent clauses).
  2. Compound sententces are built according to the principle of parataxis (coordination, i.e. the clauses are functionally equal).

From the semantic point of view, subordinate clauses in a complex sentence supplement information given in the principal clause; coordinate clauses in a compound sentence represent a sequence of thoughts.

Another type of composite sentences includes cumulative clauses. The connection between clauses in such sentence is rather loose, one clause is a kind of an afterthought. Such clauses are typically separated by a semi-colon.

e.g. I didn’t know what to do; so I phoned my friend.

Also, there exist so-called semi-composite sentences, in which a predicative line in a clause is “compressed” forming a predicative construction.

e.g. He entered the room, with his dog following him. (Such sentence is derived from two finite clauses: He entered the room. His dog followed him.)

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Compound sentences

A compound sentence is a polypredicative unit built according to the principle of coordination.

Clauses are not dependent on each other, though they are connected semantically and syntactically (unlike simple sentences they show closer connection between the reflected events and may have different informative value).

The connection between clauses may be asyndetic (without connective elements, such as conjunctions) and syndetic (with a connective element).

The following types of coordination are distinguished:

  1. Copulative: one clause is simply added to another.

Conjunctions: and, nor, neither … nor, not only … but also.

E.g. It was a nice place and we were very proud of it.

2. Disjunctive (alternative): offers a choice between the statements of two clauses.

Conjunctions: or , else, or else, either … or.

Adverb: otherwise

E.g. You must do it immediately or it will be too late.

3. Adversative: connects two clauses contrasted in meaning.

Conjunctions: but, while, whereas

Adverbs: nevertheless, still, yet, moreover

E.g. I was not unhappy, yet I wept.

4. Causative-consecutive and resultative

Conjunctions: for, so

Adverbs: therefore, accordingly, consequently, hence

E.g. They were born in the same city, so they had a lot in common.

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Complex sentences

A complex sentence consists of two or more clauses connected by subordination. Such sentence is derived from two or more base sentences—main (principle clause) and subordinate clause.

The principle clause is incomplete in its structure, with subordinate clauses performing the function of “fillers”.

E.g. I know everything. I know what you did last summer.

Classification of subordinate clauses

Functional classification

Subordinate clauses are treated as analogues to the elements of the sentence and perform the same function.

  • Subject clauses: That you are crazy is obvious.
  • Predicative: The thing is that you are crazy.
  • Objective: I know that you are crazy.
  • Adverbial – of time, condition, concession, purpose, result etc. If you come here, you are crazy.
  • Attributive – appositive, relative and non-relative. The girl, who was obviously crazy, giggled.

Categorial classification

It is a “part-of-speech” classification.  A subordinate (dependent) clause may function as a noun, an adjective or an adverb in sentence. On the basis of their function in a sentence, subordinate clauses can be divided in to following types:

  • Substantive (noun) clauses, i.e. clauses with the function of the noun (subject, predicative, object). They have a nominal nature.
  •  Adjective clauses – express qualification (attributive)
  •  Adverbial clauses 

Types of subordinate clauses

substantive-clauses

adjective-clauses

adverbial-clauses

The clauses are connected with the principal clause by various types of connectors.
The main classification of connectors: conjunctions are non-positional connectors (have no function in the subordinate clause), conjunctive pronouns and adverbs are positional connectors (they have some function in the subordinate clause).

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Semi-clauses

The predicative line may be expressed differently in clauses. Therefore, we can distinguish:

(1) Finite clauses where a verbal element is a finite verb. Such clause contains a subject and a predicate.

e.g. Because he lives there, he knows everyone in the neighbourhood. 

(2) Non-finite clauses where a verbal element is a non-finite verb.

e.g. Having known nothing about it, he remained silent .       

(3) Verbless clause based on the ellipsis of be

e.g. When the class over, he went home .

Types (2) and (3)  are semi-clauses.

Semi-clauses consist of two elements, the relations between them are similar to the relations between a subject and a predicate. Sometimes they are constructed without a subject. A semi-clause is a  ‘folded’ clause. Semi-clauses present a means of syntactic compression. They reflect the tendency of speech to be economical and express closer connections between the described events. Their  immediate syntagmatic structure («surface» structure) is like in an expanded simple sentence, since it has only one completely expressed predicative unit. Its derivational structure («deep» structure), on the other hand, is like that of a composite sentence, because it is derived from two or more completely predicative units — its base sentences.

 

semi-clauses

Semi-complex sentences may be built according to different types of predicative fusion.

Semi-complex sentences of word sharing type are built up by means of two base sentence that have a common element.

Subject sharing semi-complex sentences are built by the two base sentences with a common subject.

E.g. The moon rose red.— The moon rose. It was red.(subject sharing)

He was heard singing. (subject sharing; subjective participial construction/complex subject)  — He was singing. He was heard.

Object sharing semi-complex sentences are built of two base sentences with a common word. This word is a subject in the matrix sentence, and this word is an object in the insert sentence.

We saw him approach us. (objective infinitive construction; complex object) —We saw him. He approached us.(object sharing)

 Semi-complex sentences of attributive and adverbial complication are built as from sentences with a common word. The insert sentence is transformed into an attribute or adverbial modifier.

I came in late for the supper served in the dining-room.—I came in late for the supper.  The supper was served in the dining-room. (attributive complication)

The windows being closed, she did not hear the noise in the street. —The windows were closed. She did not hear the noise in the street.(adverbial complication)

 Semi-complex sentences of nominal phrase complication are derived from two base sentences one of which, the insert sentence, is partially norninalised (changed into a verbal phrase of infinitival or gerundial type)

I object to your smoking.—You smoke. I object to it. (nominalization)

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Practical tasks and assignments

Exercise 1. Find subordinate clauses in the following complex sentences, state their type .

  1. Once you get a mouthful of hot coffee, whatever you do next is going to be wrong.
  2. How long a minute is depends on what side of the bathroom door you’re on.
  3. 3.      Education is a method whereby one acquires a higher grade of prejudices. (Laurence J. Peter)

 

Exercise 2. Which sentences contain a semi-clause?

  1. The preliminary talks are not expected to last more than two weeks.
  2. Problems cannot be solved until they are accurately defined.
  3. The only thing that matters is purity of the original material.
  4. The Prime Minister has decided to get the Cabinet to make an ear­lier decision on the budget
  5. Jobs and living standards depend on the industrial capacity of the
    nation being used to the full.
  6. A false sense of security has been added to the dangers faced by Asia’s new nuclear powers and their neighbours
  7. Only the first choice was hard to make, the rest of the choices causing no trouble.
  8. How it has been done does not matter.

 

Keys

Exercise 1. Find principal and subordinate clauses in the following complex sentences, state their type .

  1. Once you get a mouthful of hot coffee, whatever you do next is going to be wrong.

“Once you get a mouthful of hot coffee” is an adverbial clause of time; “is going to be wrong” is a principal clause; “whatever you do next” is a subject clause

  1. How long a minute is depends on what side of the bathroom door you’re on.

“How long a minute is” is a subject clause;

“what side of the bathroom door you’re on” is an object clause

 

  1. Education is a method whereby one acquires a higher grade of prejudices. (Laurence J. Peter)

whereby one acquires a higher grade of prejudices” is an attributive appositive clause;

“Education is a method” is a principal clause.

 

Exercise 2. Which sentences contain a semi-clause?

1, 4, 5, 6, 7

 

 

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