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?
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
purpose) 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- tence.
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 object)
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- stances)
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- wich.
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 time)
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 present.
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 others.
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. Itis very lucky that you're calling me now. Iwish 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
places. 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.