A general framework

Sentences and clauses

How much do you know about sentence structure? Complete the sentences by matching the predicates (a)-(j) to the subjects (1-10). The first answer is lc.

1 A sentence - 2 The subject - 3 The verb - 4 The predicate - 5 The main elements of sentence structure - 6 Not all of these - 7 Objects - 8 Complements - 9 The verb be - 10 Adverbials

(a) are usually optional. - (b) is the most important copular verb. - (c) contains a subject and a predicate. - (d) only occur with transitive verbs. - (e) have to occur in every sentence. - (f) usually comes before the verb. - (g) follow copular verbs like be or become. - (h) are subject, verb, object, complement, adverbial. - (i) consists of a verb and possibly other elements. - (j) has to agree with the subject.

Sentence elements: forms [ORG 2.1, 10.]

Words are often joined together in groups called phrases. Verb phrases, noun phrases, adverb phrases and adjective phrases may consist of a single verb, noun /pronoun, adverb or adjective or of several words built around the 'head word'. Here are some examples.

verb phrases thinks, was hoping, may have wondered
noun phrases me, someone, someone else, my home, another of those problems,
a place I once visited

adjective phrases unusual, quite remarkahle, very odd indeed
adverb phrases remarkably, once, rather oddly

Prepositional phrases are rather different because prepositions do not function on their own. A prepositional phrase must consist of a preposition + another word, usually a noun. prepositional phrases in a moment, under the table, to my surprise

Read the passage and then choose the odd form out in each set listed below.

I sat down on a stone. I was exhausted. My ankle was aching and leg muscles that I never knew existed were beginning to complain. The sun was casting long shadows and the silence worried me. There was no sign of the path, and no other trail looked at all convincing. I could not see a single house, there were no familiar landmarks, and the Indus was only a glinting trickle far below. I felt tired, miserable and slightly frightened. I sat for ten minutes without moving, unsure of what to do. All options seemed equally unappealing. Then, immediately above me, I heard gunshots. On other occasions the noise might have been sinister. Now they seemed welcoming, almost homely. I clambered upwards, and soon found a track. Following it around a bluff of rock I saw the source of the shots: a village of half-timbered huts clinging to the sheer hillside. (William Dalrymple: In Xanadu A Quest)

Example: a stone - my ankle - complain - no sign - gunshots
complain [the rest are noun phrases]

1 verb phrases
was exhausted - was aching - were beginning to complain - could not see - might have been

2 noun phrases
leg muscles that I never knew existed - casting long shadows - me - no sign of the path
the source of the shots
3 adjective phrases
tired - miserable and slightly frightened - unsure of what to do - equally unappealing
almost homely - following it
4 adverb phrases
never - far below - immediately above - now upwards
5 prepositional phrases
on a stone - for ten minutes - without moving - on other occasions - almost homely

Sentence elements: functions [ORG 3.1]

When we talk of phrases we are talking of FORMAL categories - the way phrases are formed. When we talk of sentence elements (subjects, verbs, objects, complements and adverbials) we are thinking of the way different kinds of formal phrases FUNCTION, how the same kind of phrase can express different elements.

The verb element in a sentence must be a verb phrase, but this does not apply to other forms and functions. For example (in the passage in Exercise 3):

Noun phrases can be:
subject The silence . . .
object ... (worried) me.
object of preposition ... (on) a stone.
predicative (The writer is) a traveller.

Adjective phrases can be:
predicative complement
(seemed) equally unappealing

Prepositional phrases can be:
part of a noun phrase
(no sign) of the path
an adverbial
(sat down) on a stone

Look at the passage again and decide what function each of the following phrases has.

NPs 1 my ankle SUBJECT
2 leg muscles that I never knew existed
3 long shadows
4 a glinting trickle
5 the sheer hillside
AdjPs 6 at all convincing
7 tired, miserable, and slightly frightened
8 welcoming, almost homely
PPs 9 of the path
10 for ten minutes
11 without moving
12 on other occasions

Constituent parts of a sentence
Zerlegen Sie die nachfolgenden Sätze in ihre Konstituenten (Satzglieder) und benennen Sie die entsprechenden Konstituenten mit den Symbolen S, V, , C, P, O oder A

1 Full-scale computers have a large number of programs.
2 We must change all the programs tomorrow.
3 Tomorrow will be a holiday here.
4 These bookshelves are becoming very popular in Sweden.
5 We have recently added an extra unit to them.
6 Will you give it a try?
7 On July 7, DDT was sprayed on the marsh from a helicopter.
8 We all read too many books too quickly.
9 The young man grew restless in his mother-in-law's house.
10 They had made him their son-in-law despite his objections.
11 He found his mother-in-law greedy.
12 They had found him a charming young wife.

Exercise: Clause structure [ORG ch. 3]

There are basically seven types of clause - combining the elements of S(ubject), V(erb), O(bject), P(redicative) and A(dverbial) in various ways. ~; .

Identify the sentence types that the following sentences belong to as SV, SVO, SVP, SVA, SVOO, SVOP or SVOA.

1 I felt very tired. SVP [I = S; felt = V; very tired = P]
2 My feet hurt.
3 The receptionist handed me my key.
4 I wanted food.
5 I placed my coat over a chair.
6 I ordered myself something to eat.
7 It seemed sensible.
8 I lay on the bed.
9 A waiter brought coffee and sandwiches.
10 He set the tray on a table.
11 I was yawning.
12 I found the bed rather hard.
13 The thick curtains extended to the floor.
14 But the hotel was situated on a busy street.
15 The traffic noise kept me awake.