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XI. Independent Elements of the Sentence

Independent elements of the sentence are not directly connect-
ed with any part of the sentence — they express the speaker's at-
titude to or comment on what is being said in the sentence as a
whole. In this function we usually find parenthetic expressions,
viewpoint, attitudinal and formulaic adverbs.

e.g. To tell the truth, Ididn't like her at first.
It isn't quite correct, strictly speaking.
She will probablytell you about it herself.
It was a rainy day but fortunatelyit was not cold.

Historically, the king's death was a minor event, but it be-
came widely known owing to its tragic circumstances.
Willyou kindlykeep me informed?

Syntactic Complexes

The subject-predicate relationship may be found in an English
sentence not only between the grammatical subject and the finite
predicate but also in some phrases consisting of at least two ele-
ments — a subject and a predicative. Such phrases, usually
known as syntactic complexes,differ from the real subject and
the predicate of the sentence in that they lack a finite verb and
therefore what is expressed in them cannot be directly related to
reality. It is done indirectly — by means of the phrase being syn-
tactically connected with the predicate proper.

Syntactic complexes may be of the following kinds:

I. The ComplexObject — a syntactic construction which is
lexically dependent and found after a limited number of verbs in
the Active Voice (see "Verbs", §§ 193, 222, 249; "Nouns", §21;
"Adjectives", § 7). The complex object consists of a noun in the
common case or an indefinite pronoun or a personal pronoun in
the objective case serving as an object in the sentence, and a pred-
icative which may be expressed by a noun, an adjective, an ad-
verb, an infinitive with or without the particle to, an ing-form
and a participle.

e.g. His humour made him awelcome guest.

When they came they found the house empty.

I don't want any light on.

Why don't you get somebody to explainit to you?

I watched her moveaway from us.

I felt him looking at me now and again.

I had never before seen the game played.

II. The Complex Subject —a syntactic construction which is
lexically dependent and found with a limited number of verbs in
the Passive Voice (see "Verbs", §§ 192,221, 248; "Nouns", § 21;
"Adjectives", § 7). The complex subject consists of a noun in the
common case, an indefinite pronoun or a personal pronoun in the

nominative case serving as the subject of the sentence, and a (sub-
jective) predicative which may be expressed by a noun, an adjec-
tive, an adverb, an infinitive, an ing-form and a participle.

e.g. Bob Skinnerwas made the leader of the team.
The doorwas painted green.
Everybodywas found in.
Theywere expected to agree.
The childrenwere left playing on the floor.
The carwas last seen parked at the hotel.

III. The Prepositional Infinitive Phrase —a syntactic con-
struction which consists of a noun in the common case, an indefinite
pronoun or a personal pronoun in the objective case, and a predica-
tive expressed by an infinitive. The whole of the phrase is joined to
the rest of the sentence by a preposition. Usually it is the preposi-
tion for, but sometimes the choice of the preposition is determined
by the verb the phrase depends on. (See also "Verbs", § 166.)

e.g. He held out the papers for me tosee.

He was looking for someone to helphim.

Her whole life had been spent listening to other people talk.

They appealed to him togive upthe idea.

I arranged with the womandownstairs to keepthe place clean.

You can rely on Father to forgetnothing.

Prepositional infinitive phrases may perform different func-
tions in the sentence.

e.g. For him to swearwas such a rarity that David was not only

shocked but thoroughly startled, (subject)
All he wanted was for me to get outof his sight, (predicative)
We were waiting for the train to arrive,(prepositional object)
The boy stood aside forus togo by. (adverbial modifier of

I was too young for them to tellme the truth, (adverbial

modifier of consequence)
It was an easy plan for Roger to fulfil,(attribute)

IV. The ing-Complex —a syntactic construction which consists
of a possessive pronoun or a personal pronoun in the objective case

or a noun in the common or genitive case, and a predicative ex-
pressed by an ing-form. (See also "Verb", § 166.)

The ing-complex may perform different functions in the sen-

e.g. At first she hadn't been sure that his coming here had been
a good thing, (subject)

The only thing I am afraid of is the family being too sure of
themselves, (predicative)

That's a risk I just can't think of your taking, (prepositional

He could not approve of Guy's hiding himself away, (preposi-
tional object)

Not a day had passed without that young man coming to at
least one meal, (adverbial modifier of attending circum-

Of course you understand that after John breaking his ap-
pointment I'm never going to speak to him again, (adverbi-
al modifier of time)

I ought to have realized the possibility of such a thing hap-
pening, (attribute)

V. The Absolute Construction — a syntactic construction
which also consists of at least two elements — a subject and a
predicative, but differs from the other syntactic complexes in
that its grammatical connection with the rest of the sentence is
much looser. It is often marked off by a comma. Absolute con-
structions function as adverbial modifiers of attending circum-
stances and description and may be joined to the sentence either
asyndetically or with the help of the preposition with or without.

The first element of the absolute construction is usually a
noun or a pronoun; the second element may be expressed by an in-
finitive, an ing-iorm, a participle, a noun with or without a prep-
osition, an adjective or an adverb.

e.g. With nothing to do, the actors stood about and made small


She ran up the stairs, her heart thumping painfully.
I wouldn't dare go home without the job finished.
He sat motionless, his hands over his eyes.
I can't sleep with the radio on.

The Structure of the Composite Sentence

A composite sentence consists of two or more simple sentences
joined together. The component parts of a composite sentence are
called clauses. The relationship between the clauses may be that
of coordination and subordination.

In the case of coordination we have a compound sentence
whose clauses are independent of each other syntactically. They
may be joined by some coordinating conjunctions (e.g. and, but,
or, yet, for,
etc.) or asyndetically.

e.g. He was very busy now and they saw few of their friends.

I haven't got much news to convey but there are some things
to add.

I began to miss London, yet I was not coming back.

You can boil yourself an egg, or I'll make you a cheese sand-

He asked for food — there was none. My parents are quite
young, they live their own life.

In the case of subordination, one of the syntactic functions
within a simple sentence is expressed by a clause thereby forming
a complex sentence.

Cf. I know the girl's name, (object)

I know what the girl's name is. (object clause)

She learned to play tennis at school, (adverbial modifier of

She learned to play tennis when she went to school, (adverbi-
al clause of time)

The basic structure is called the principal clause; the clause
performing some syntactic function within the principal clause is
termed a subordinate clause.

Structurally and semantically, subordinate clauses are subor-
dinated to principal clauses and may be joined to them by means
of conjunctions, conjunctive words, asyndetically and sometimes
by means of the sequence of tenses.

Conjunctions (a) differ from conjunctive words (b) in that the
former are not members of either the principal or subordinate
clause while the latter perform some function within the subordi-
nate clause.

e.g. a) I know (that) he isright.
Iwas out whenhe came.

She had only a cup of tea becauseshe was not hungry.
b) He knew whohad brought the letter.
They knew when Iwould come.

He showed me the watch thathe was given as a birthday

Subordinate clauses may perform various functions within the
principal clause. In comparison with the corresponding members
of the simple sentence they can be said to be more expressive
since they have a finite form in their structure.

For practical purposes of learning English, it is necessary and
sufficient to distinguish the following kinds of subordinate clauses:

1) subject clauseswhich perform the function of subject and
may be introduced by the conjunctions that, if, whether and
such conjunctive words as who, what, which, when, why, how and

e.g. That you may meet him at the partyis quite possible.
What I need nowis someone to do the job.

2) predicative clauseswhich perform the function of pre-
dicative and may be introduced by the same conjunctions and con-
junctive words as subject clauses (see above).

e.g. His only desire was that his family shouldn't interfere with

his plans.
The question was why no one had heard the shot.

3) object clauseswhich modify verbs and adjectives as objects
to them and may be introduced by the same conjunctions and con-
junctive words as subject clauses (see above).

e.g. I thought (that) they were joking.

We were sorry (that) we had missed Father by a few minutes.
It was announced over the radio that the flight was delayed.
It was urgent that we should take a decision.
is very lucky that you're calling me now.
wish you hadn't asked me that.

Hefound it important that they should start on the job
right away.

They took it for granted that his theory was correct.

Nobody knew what she meant.

He could not understand why they insisted on such a decision.

Time will show if (whether) he is right.

Itwas not clear what had happenedand who was injured.

4) adverbial clauseswhich function as adverbial modifiers to
verbs and adjectives within the principal clause and may be of the
following kinds:

a) adverbial clauses of timewhich are introduced by the con-
junctions when, while, as, until, till, before, after, since, as soon
as, as long as
and some others,

e.g. When they reached the village,Jane got out of the taxi and

looked about her.
I won't leave until you come.

b) adverbial clauses of place and directionwhich are in-
troduced by the conjunction where,

e.g. They stopped where the road turned to the river.

c) adverbialclauses ofcause which are introduced by the con-
junctions because, as, since and some others,

e.g. He was glad to talk to her because it set her at ease.

d) adverbial clauses of purposewhich are introduced by the
conjunctions so that, that, in order that, lest,

e.g. He spoke loudly and clearly so that all could hear him.

e) adverbial clauses of conditionwhich are introduced by the
conjunctions if, in case, unless and some others,

e.g. If we start off now,we'll arrive there by dinner time.

f) adverbial clauses of concessionwhich are introduced by the
conjunctions though, although, even if, even though and wh-pro-
nouns, ending in -ever,

e.g. Although it was very late,she kept the dinner warm on the


Even if the faultis all his, Imust find a way to help him.
Whatever happens,she won't have it her own way.

g) adverbial clauses of consequencewhich are introduced by
the conjunctions that, so ... that, such ... that,

e.g. He was soembarrassed that he could hardly understand her.

h) adverbial clauses of comparisonwhich are introduced by the
conjunctions than, as, as...as, not so (as)...as, as if and as though.

e.g. He now took better care of his old father than he had ever

done it before.
Her lips moved soundlessly, as if she were rehearsing.

5) attributive clauseswhich modify nouns within the principal
clause and are introduced by the conjunctive (relative) words that,
who(m), which, whose, as, when, where
and some others as well as
asyndetically (see also "Nouns' § 15),

e.g. I know a man who can help us.

We caught a breeze that took us gently up the river.

All the presents (that) he had given herwere in their usual

Where is the letter (which) I gave you to read?

6) appositive clauseswhich modify nouns within the principal
clause and are introduced by the conjunction that. In form they
look like attributive clauses but in content they are similar to ob-
ject clauses because they explain and specify the meaning of the
noun they refer to. It should be borne in mind that only a limited
number of abstract nouns can be modified by appositive clauses
(for the lists of such nouns see "Verbs", §§ 137-138, 204, 230),

e.g. I had the impression that she was badly ill.

We turned down his suggestion that we should take a boarder.
The thought that she was unhappykept him awake all night.


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