Sei sulla pagina 1di 39









" '!



. ji6iIM""". til!i!PlliMD(%WlUf



I,~??W ,.-.• n•• N!Ii


""l"" ••

Randolph Quirk Sidney Greeribaum




Leech 2.11 It is usually assumed that the SENTENCE is the highest-ranking unit of

Jan Svartvik

grammar, and hence that the purpose of a grammatical description ofEnglish . is to define, by means of whatever descriptive apparatus may be necessary

(rules, categories, etc), what counts as a grammatical sentence in English. In

way, the terms 'grammar' and 'sentence' are mutually defining. In the

Index by David Crystal past, grammarians have aimed to define 'sentence' as a prerequísite to defining 'grammar', or to define 'grammar' as a means of defining ·sentence·. But both approaches will be avoided here: indeed, neither of these tcmlS can


be given a clear-cut definition. The sentence is an indeterminll\e unit in the sense that it is often difficult to decide, particularly in spoken language, where one sentence ends and another begins (cf19.29jj). The term 'grammar'

is indeterminate in the sense that 'What counts as a grammatical English

sentence?' is not always a question which permits a decisive answer; and this

is not only because of the difficulty of segmenting a discourse into sentences

but because questions of grammatical acceptability inevitably become involved with questions of meaning, with questions of good or bad style, with questions of lexical acceptability, with questions of acceptability in context,

etc. To give a realistic presentation of English grammar, we therefore have to abandon neat I;loundaries, and to accept that grammar is a linguistic 'core' round which other aspects oflinguistic organization and usage are integrated.


will enable us to give an account of other factors, especially meaning, which

impinge on the discussion of grammatical rules and categories. The CLAUSE, particularly the independent clause (cf14.2), is in many ways

a more clearly-defined unit than the sentence. It is for this reason that we

shaJl concentrate, in this and the following nine chapters, on the SIMPLE SENTENCE (ie the sentence consisting of a single independent clause) as the

most central part of gramrnar. We shall use the term MULTIPLE SENTENCE (subsuming complex and compound sentences) (cf14.lff) for all sentences which consist of more than one clause, either through subordination or

Our intention, therefore, is to take a broad interpretation of grammar,





London aÍld New York





48 A survey of English grammar

through coordination. Thus the limits of the English sentence are defined, in practice, wherever grammatical re1ations (such as those of subordination and coordínatíon) cannot be established between c1auses. Such relations, and their limits, are explored in later chapters, particularly Chapters 13, 14, and


Form and function

2.12 We have indicated how grammatícal categories may be identified through relationships of choice (or substitution) between constituents. In the simple cases of examples 2.6 [l] and [2], repeated here as [1] and [2], we recognized four positions in the clause where different kinds of phrase can occur:


The weather} {has been} {ver y COld} {just recentl y








But to describe more fuHy how c1auses are composed of phrases, it is necessary to take account of other factors, eg whether a constituent may vary its position (MOBILITY), and whether a constituent can be omitted (omoN­ ALlTY). In both these respects, the adverb phrases of[1] and [2] are different from the other phrases:

The weather

has been very coldjust recently.





weather has been very cold.

[1 a]

The weather


been very wld.

[1 b]

Another observation about the adverb phrase is that it may be replaced by a different kind of constituent, which is similarly optional and mobile. For example, a noun phrase such as this month or a prepositional phrase such as during the past week may be a substitute for just recently in (1] and [la]:

The weather has been very cold

just recently. { this month. during the past week.



[1 dJ

On the other hand, we obviously cannot always replace a noun phrase by an adverb phrase or by a prepositional phrase:

Thís month has been very cold. *Just recently has been very cold.

*During the past week has been very cold.



That is, noun phrases are in a 'choice' relation to other kinds of phrase on sorne occasions, but not on others. In order to state more complieated faets of eonstitueney such as these, it is important to distinguish two ways of elassifying constituents. We may classify a unít either on the basis of its FORM (eg its intemal strueture, as a noun phrase, or as a verb phrase), or on the basis of its FUNCTION (eg as a subjeet or an objeet of a c1ause). By funetion is meant a unit's 'privilege of occurrenee', in terms of its position, mobility, optionality, etc, in the unit of

Clause structure


which it is a constituent. Two units which have the same privilege of occurrence may be said to be FUNCTIONALLY EQUIVALENT. Thus the final phrases of (1], (le], and [Id], although they belong to different formal eategories (adverb phrase, noun phrase, prepositional phrase), may be said to belong to the same functional category of ADVERBIAL. Such categories define ELEMENTS OF STRUCTURE in the higher unít, which in this case is a clause. An adverbial, generallyspeaking, is distinguished from other elements by its variable position (for example, initial, medial, or final in the clause), by its optionality, and by the faet that the number of adverbials which can occur in a clause is not fixed. The advantage of distinguishing functional from formal categories is that generalizations of two kinds can be made: those about a unit's status as a constituent of a higher unít, and those about its internal structure in terms of smaller or lower units. In sorne cases (eg preposítíons; cf2.29) the distinction is unimportant, but in other cases it is important and indeed necessary. For example, ít is important to distinguish those prepositional phrases which act as adverbials from those which act as parts of noun phrases. It is also important to distinguish aduerbials (a functional category) from aduerb phrases (a formal category, whose members frequent1y function as adverbials). Here, as elsewhere, we trust that the advantage of using traditional and widely-understood terms outweighs any danger of confusion.




A FORMAL c1assification takes account of how a unit is composed of smaller units or components, inc1uding, in the case of words, stems and affixes. Since English often lacks formal indicators of word class. we often identify words by their function rather than their formo

Clause structure

Central and peripheral elements of the clause

2.13 The form-function distinetion is particularly important in the case of c\ause structure, which we shaH now discuss in sorne detail as the most familiar and important illustration of functional c\assification. To describe the consti­ tueney of clauses, we need to distinguish the following elements of c\ause structure:


These are exemplified in the following simple dec1arative sentenees:

Someone (S] was laughing [V] loudly [A] in the next room [A]. My mother [8] usually [A) enjoys [V} parties (O] very much [AJ. In 1945 [A] the country [S] became [V] totally independent [e]. 1 [8] have been [V] in the garden [A] aH the time [A] since lunch [A). Mary [S] gave [V] the visitor [O] a glass ofmílk [O]. Most people [S] consider [V] these books [O] rather expensive [e], actually (A]. You {S] must put [V] al! the toys [O] upstairs [AJ immediately [A].

books [O] rather expensive [e], actually (A]. You {S] must put [V] al! the toys [O]
books [O] rather expensive [e], actually (A]. You {S] must put [V] al! the toys [O]
books [O] rather expensive [e], actually (A]. You {S] must put [V] al! the toys [O]
books [O] rather expensive [e], actually (A]. You {S] must put [V] al! the toys [O]






At the símplest level, we may make the following generalizations about

50 A survey of Engllsh grammar c\ause structures from these ex.amples. The verb element (V)
50 A survey of Engllsh grammar c\ause structures from these ex.amples. The verb element (V)

50 A survey of Engllsh grammar

c\ause structures from these ex.amples. The verb element (V) is the most 'central' element, and in al! the examples aboye it is preceded by the subject (8). Following the verb there may be one or two objects (O), or a complement (C), which follows the object if one is presento The most peripheral element is the adverbial, whích can occur either initially (in front of the subject, as in [31), or finally (after the verb, andafter the object or complement if one is present, as in [IJ, [4), and [6]). Many adverbials, however, may also occur medially, as in [2J. A c\ause may contain a varied numberof final adverbials; eg none [5J, one [2}, two [7J, three [4J. These observations are summarized in the simplified formula:

(A) 8 (A) V (O) (O) (C) (A


(As elsewhere, parentheses signal elements which may or may not be present in any given c\ause.) As a first approximation, this indicates something of the variability of c1ause structures in declarative clauses, although it will need later modification (efNotes [a) and lb]). The distinction between 'centre' and 'periphery' is relatÍve rather than

absolute. The verb element is the most 'central' element in that (i) its position is normally medial rather than initíal or final; (ii) it is normally obligatory;


it cannot normally be moved to a different position in the c\ause; and


it helps to determine what other elements must occur (ef2.16ff). For the

opposite reasons, adverbials are the most peripheral elements: (i) their position is most frequently final; (ii) they are usually optional; (iii) they are m0 st ly mobile; and (iv) they do not determine what other elements occur. Thf:'y 111i1.y be regarded, from a structural point of view, largely as 'optional ex.tras', which may be added at will, so that it ís nor possible to give an eX:lct

limit to the number of adverbials a clause may contain. The other elements, subject, object, and complement, are in varíous degrees more peripheral than the verb, and less peripheral than the adverbial.


[aJ Although in [1-7J the subject is apparently just as indispensable to clause strueture as the verb, it will be noted that in imperative and nonfinite clauses the subject is usually optional (el 2.57, 11.24[, 14.6ff). There is also a calegory of clauses in whieh the verb is omitted (verbless clauses; el 14.9), bul this is a less significant cÍttegory than those of imperative and nonfinite

(bJ clauses. The aboye generalizalions will, of course, be subjeet 10 modification when we consíder a wider range of c!auses, particularly subordinate and nondeclarative elauses. For example, elemenls other than adverbials have a limiled mobilily; on movement of subjects, el 2.48; of verbs, 18.8/; of objeets and complements, 18.20, 18.37, 18.38. [e]lt is unfortunate that traditional1y the word verb does service both for a clause element, and for the class of word which occurs as a constituent of thal elemento For example, in the former sense mus! pUl in [7J is a verb, and in Ihe latter sense, musl and pUl are verbs individually (el 2.27). The lerm 'predicator' has been sometimes used to re place 'verb' in the sense of 'verb element', bu! for lack of a familiar altemative, we shall eontinue to use verb in bolh senses, distinguishing between verbs as elements and verbs as words where there is sorne risk of confusion. ln yet another sense (el 2.35) verb designates a basic verb form, or LEXICAL ITEM, whieh is manifested in different morphemes or morpheme eombinations; eg: hove, having, and had are aH forms of the lexical item HAVE. (A similar polysemy applies to other word elasses,

particu!arly nouns).

A 'fixed

word-order language'







+ l." -,t;:Io'"t~ 'l'lfP Clause structure 51 may observe that in example [21

Clause structure


may observe that in example [21 usually can be moved to initial or final position:




However, the other elements cannot be similarly moved from their 8 V O sequence:

My mother usually enjoys parties very mucho [8 A V O

Usually my mother enjoys parties very mucho [A 8 V O Al My mother enjoys parties very much, usually. [8 V O A Al

*Usual1y enjoys parties my mother very mucho [A V O S A] *Enjoys usually my mother parties very mucho [V A 8 O Al *My mother parties usually enjoys very mucho (S O A V Al

The fact that these orders, and many others of the same elements, do not readily occur, helps to explain why English is commonly described as a 'fixed word-order language'. In practice, discussion of word order in languages tends to revolve around the ordering of phrases which are clause elements, and it is notable, ror instance, that in English the positions of subject, verb, and object are relatively fixed. In declarative clauses, they occur regularly in the order 8 V O, unless there are particular conditions {ror example, the initial placing oC the object pronoun in relative clauses) which lead to a disturbance of this order. Further conditions allow variations of this declarative order (for example, Parties my mother usually enjoys very much is a possible, though less usual, variant of [2]); these will be discussed in 2.59 and 18.20. It is enough to state here that English does indeed have strict limitations on the ordering of clause elements, but that the more peripheral an element is, the more freedom ofposition it has. After'V, Sis the least mobile element, followed by O and C. Later we shall give attention to the various factors which lead to the displacement of an element from its regular position (efesp 2.59,11.5, 11.l4,and 18.l9ff).

Note [a] In [2J, Ihe restrietion on movemenl even exlends to the adverbial very much, which in comparison wilh olher members of Ihe adverbial category is relatively immobile:

*Very much my mother usuaHy enjoys parlies. [A S A V O] [2e] [b] In !erms of the presenl grammatical hierarehy (ef2.7) Ihe lerm word order ought to apply strictly 10 the ordering of words within phrases, rather Ihan of phrases within clauses. This is nol the normal inlerprelation of the expression. but il may be incidentaUy noted that in Ihis more reSlrleted sense, English has an even grealer fixity of word order. Note, for example, beside {2a­ 2c], Ihe slill greater dislocation in:

• MOlher my usually enjoys parties much very.


2.15 It is worth pointing out that different degrees of centrality can be observed

not only in different elements of clause structure, but also in different sub­ categories of the same element. Thus the adverbial category has been described as the most peripheral, but it is in fact a heterogeneous category, within which there are relatively central and relatively peripheral types of adverbial. In examples 2.13 [1- 7], most of the adverbials are both mobile and optional: it is possible, for example, to omit the adverbial usually in [2] (My mother el1ioys parties very mueh) as well as 10 change its position (as in

53 Clause structure
53 Clause structure


Clause structure

52 A survey of English grammar

examples 2.14 [2a) and [2b)). But there are, as we have just seen in [2c], sorne adverbials which cannot readily be moved from their position in a given clause, and there are even adverbials which are obligatory, such as the place adverbials in the garden in example 2.13 [41 and upstairs in 2.13 [71:



1 have been in the garden aH the time since lunch. You must put aH the toys upstairs immediate\y.


*I have been all the time since lunch. "You must put aH the toys immediately.



Because they are essential to the 'completion' of the rneaning of the verb, such elements are classified by sorne grammarians as complements (e/2.17/, 10.11). Our position, however, is that adverbials represent a spectrum of types, the most central of which, because of their obligatoriness and relative immobility, resemble complements. In provisional support of this analysis, note that in the garden and upstairs are equivalent to adverbials in meaning, eg in answering the question Where?, even though they are similar to complements in acting as an obligatory element following the verb BE. At the other end of the spectrum, there are elements which are frequently called SENTENCE ADVERBIALS, because they tend to qualify, by their meaning, a whole sentence or clause, rather than just part of a clause (such as a verb, or a verb and object):


To mv ref{ret, he refused the offer of heip. He was, however, very interested in my other proposais.


In Chapter 8, these adverbials are subdivided into DISJUNCTS (those which, like lO my regret in [8], comment on the form or content of the clause) and CONJUNCTS (those which, like however in [9], have a connective function). Such sentence adverbials are distinguished from ADJUNCTS and SUBJUNCTS, adverbials which are more closely integrated with the rest of the clause, and which include such familiar categories as adverbials of manner, place, time, and degree (e/8.39, 8.51,8.79,8.104). Characteristic of disjuncts and conjuncts are such markers of peripherality as separation from the rest of the clause by intonation boundaries in speech (e/ App n.11ff) or by commas in writing (e/ App III.l7!). The distinctions between these four major types of adverbial are significant enough to deserve careful analysis in a later chapter (8.24jj), and yet it must be concluded that there is no clear division between the more central and more peripheral adverbials. Here we anticipate a problem whích will be confronted at the end ofthis chapter (2.60): that ofthe partial INDETERMINACYof gramrnatical categories.

Sentence [4aJ is grammatical if been is interpreted as an auxilíary verb followed by ellípsis of the main verb, as in (cfI2.62):

A: You should have been waiting here when the taxi arrived. B: 1 have been (waiting) all the time since lunch.

Clause types

2.16 By eliminating optional adverbials from the clause structures illustrated in 2.13, we arrive at a classification of the essential core of each clause structure. Of the obligatory elements, the main verb is the one that wholly or largely determines what form the rest of the structure will take. From examples [1-71 the following seven CLAUSE TYPES emerge:

Table 2.16 Clause types





C(omplement) A(dverbial)



was laughing



My mother enjoys











have been

in the







the visitor


a glass















al! the





This set of patterns is the most general classification that can be usefully applied to the whole range of English clauses whether main or subordinate. Each clause type is associated with a set of verbs, as will be shown in detail in 16.18-66. The seven fall naturally into three main types. There are:

a two-element pattern:

three three-element patterns:

three four-element patterns:


SV + {~}

SVO + {~}

Cutting a<:ross thís threefold classification are three main verb classes:

INTRANSITIVE VERBS (eg: laugh in [la]), are followed by no obligatory element, and occur in type SV. TRANSITIVE VERBS (eg: enjoy in [2a], give in [5a], consider in [6a1, puf in [7an are followed by an OBJECT (cf2.17), and occur in types SVO, SVOO, SVOC, :mn svaA re:;;nectivelv.


f' "Me, gn'rrz=mr=m




54 A survey of English grammar


Clause structure


COPULAR VERBS (eg: become in [3a], be in [4aJ) are followed by a SUBJECT COMPLEMENT (cf2.l7) or an ADVERBIAL, and occur in types SVC and SVA.

In a general sense, the term TRANSITlVE is often applied to all verbs which require an object, including those of clause types SVOO, SVOC, and SVOA. It ¡s, however, convenient to make a further c\assification of the verbs in these patterns:



The term 'verb' primarily refers not to the whole V element, but to the main verb (ef2.29) of the verb phrase: in [7a1, for example, it is the main verb pul (or more strictly, the lexical item PUT; ef2.35-36) which determines that an object and an adverbial must follow the verb element.

Most people consider these books rather expensive. [6a]

i The distinction is effectively made by noting that in [3a] the country is understood to have become a totally independent country, while in [6a] the books are understood to be considered rather expensive books. In other words, in SVC clauses the complement applies sorne attribute or definition to the subject, whereas in SVOC clauses it applies an attribute or definition to the object. This distinction is usually denoted by the terms SUBJECT COMPLEMENT and OBJECT COMPLEMENT respectively. in these cases, the complement is an adjective phrase, but elsewhere, where the complement is a noun phrase, the same kind of distinction holds:



Type SVC:

Type SVOC: Most people considered Picasso a genius.

The country became a separate natíon.

In the SVC sentence, a separate nation is understood to be a definition of the subject, the country, while in the SVOC sentence, a genius is understood to be a definition of the object, Pieasso.


The term COPULA refers to the verb BE, and COPULAR verbs are those verbs (including BE and BECOME) which are functionally equivalent lo the copula (el 16.21ff). They are variously called

Objects and complements


'copulative', 'equative', 'intensive', or 'linking' verbs.


Befare considering the verb further, however, it is important to notice differences between the various elements which have been labelled 'object' and 'complement'o The following distinctions will be made:






An object such as parties in [2a] (My mother enjoys parties) clearly has a different semantic role in the clause from an object such as the visitor in [5a1 (Mary gave the visitor a glass of mi/k), and this has been traditionally recognized by applying the term DIRECT OBJECT to the former, and INDIRECT OBJECT to the latter. Leaving the semantic distinction until 10.7, IO.l8ff, we give priority here to the distributional fact mat whenever there are two objects (in type SVOO), the former is normally the indirect object, and the latter the direct object. But although it is more central with regard to position (ef2.l3), in other respects the indirect object is more peripherai than the direct object: it is more likely to be optional, and may generally be paraphrased by a prepositional phrase functioning as adverbial (cf2.23). Similarly, we must distinguish between the type of complement found in the SVC pattern; te: totally independent in:

The country becarne totally independent. [3a1

and the type of complement found in the SVOC pattern; ie: rather expensive in:


[a] In place of 'subject complement', the terrn 'predicative noun' or 'predicative adjective' is sometimes used. Other alternatives are 'predicative nominal' and 'predicative adjectival', the choice between 'nominal' and 'adjectival' being determined by whether this element is a noun phrase or an adjective phrase. [b] AIso, some writers make useof a very broad sense of'complement', subsuming comp!ements, objects, and obligatory adverbials in the present grammar.


2.18 There is a parallel between complements and obligatory adverbials (ef2.15). Obligatory adverbials are largely restricted to what in a broad sense we may termSPACE ADJUNCTS (ef8.3, S.39ff). Just as complements can be divided into subject complements and object complements, so can obligatory space adjuncts be divided into those occurring in the SVA pattern, in which a location is attributed to the referent oC the subject, and those occurring in the SVOA pattern, in which a location is attributed to the referent of the object. The parallel may be brought out as follows:

He [S1 stayed [V] very quiet [C s ].


{ He [S1 stayed [V] in bed [A.].


They [S1 kept [V] him [O] very quiet [Col.


{ They [S1 kept [V1 him [01 in bed [A o ]'

The symbols A. and Ao here indicate a subject-related adjunct and an object­ related adjunct respectively. The parallel between the two sets of clause types is also evident in the verb classes, and we acknowledge this by calling the verb in both [11 and [21 COPULAR (since it is equivalent in function to the copula BE) and calling the verb inboth [3] and [4] COMPLEX TRANSITIVE (ef


Space adjuncts occurring in the SVA and SVOA patterns include not only those indicating position, such as in bed or at the office, but also those indicating direction, such as down in She put the glass down (ef 10.10, 16.24), By extension, they may also include adverbials which specify 'temporal location', as in:

56 A survey of English grammar

The next meeting will be on the 5th February.

and by a more abstract and metaphorical interpretatíon of'space' (cf9.32):

The road [S] is (V] under eonstruetion We (Sl kept (V] him [01 offcigarettes [Aa]'

But there are still sorne obligatory adverbials to which a locational metaphor cannot be applied. Examples are the manner adjunct kindly in [51, and the prepositional phrase without a job in

They [S] treated [V]

her [01 kindly [Al.


He [S] is (V] without ajob [A].


At the same time, the close relatíonship ofthe preposítional phrase in [6) to a subject complement is evident in its semantíc equivalence to the adjective


Note As the above examples suggest, the distinction between complement and adverbial is by no means c1ear-cut, and there are strong arguments for c1assifying prepositional phrases such as withoul (l job in [6J as complements. For further discussion, ef 10.11. Another difficulty, in determining the funclÍon in a clause of sorne preposítíonal phrases, is that which arises over the status ofprepositional verbs such as cons;sl of(cf 16.5jJ).

Clause elements subclassified

2.19 Table 2.19 Verb classes in relation lO clause types



V (inlransitive)



[ 1]



V (monotransitive)




c1assical musie





V (copular)


Your faee







V (copular)


My sister







V (ditransitive)








birthday [5]



V (eomplex transí ti ve) deelared


C o

The president

the meeting





V (eomplex transitive) showed




the guests

into the





Ao object-related adverbial As subject-related ad verbial

Ca object complement subject complement

Od directobject O, indireet object

We have now found it necessary not only to distinguish functíonal categories such as subject, verb, and object in the structure of the clause, but also to


Clause structure


subclassify these ínto more specific categories, such as transitíve verb, direct object, and subject complement. Such subclassificatíon is typícal of both formal and functional distinctions in grammar. Only through these finer dístínctions can an adequate account be given of what combinations of constituents enter into the structure of the English clause. To clarify the terminology and its use, let us return to the seven clause types in Table 2.16, and specify the structures more precisely (again omitting optional adverbials) by means of subcategories of V, O, C, and A, in Table 2.19 opposite. The abbreviations used are those which will be current throughout this book (new examples are added for further illustration). Further variations on these clause types, includíng sorne exceptional patteros, are discussed in 16.18ff.

Systematic correspondences

2.20 The study of grammatical structure is aided by observíng systematic CORRESPONDENCES between one structure and another. Such correspondences are sometimes described in terms of transformational rules, but we shall not make use of such theoretícal formulations in this book. Instead, we shall use demonstrable correspondences as an informal way of showing similaritíes and contrasts between structures. They are important in explaining the relatíon between grammatical choice and meaníng, and also in provídíng critería for classification. A systematic correspondence may be broadly defined as a relatíon or mappíng between two structures X and Y, such that ir the same lexical content occurs in X and in Y, there is a constant meaning relation between

the two structures. (In using the term 'lexical content', we aiiow for the possibílíty that X and Y may contain different, though related, lexicat items, such as wise and wisely.) This relation is often one of semantic equivalence, or paraphrase. In 2.21- 24, we give three important examples of systematíc correspondence, and show how they help in the identification of clause elements. Further types of correspondence will be examined in 2.45ff. The symbol - ís used in thís book to represent such correspondences. Lack of systematic correspondence is symbolized by ,

We take the seven basic clause types of [1- 7] as the poínt of departure for our description, but do not regard correspondences as unidirectional.

Active and passive structures

2.21 Clauses containing a noun phrase as object are distinguished by the fact that they are usually matched by passive clauses, in which the object noun phrase now appears as subject (V pass = passive verb phrase), ef Table 2.21 on the next page. As type SVOO clauses have two objects, they can often have two passive forms - one in whích the indirect object becomes the subject, and another in which the direct object becomes subject. Further discussion of the active-passive relationship is found in 3.63ff. As the formulae show, this correspondence permits us to convert clauses of types with an object into equivalent types without objects (or, in the case of SVOO, with only one object). Thus the passive of They considered him a genius [SVOC] is closely parallel in meaning to the SVC pattern, except for the passive verb phrase:

58 A survey of English grammar

He was considered a genius. [S Vpass C s ] ef He seemed a genius. [S V C s ]

In aH passive clause types, the agent by-phrase (ef 3.65ff, 9.50), which

incorporates a noun phrase equivalent to the subject of the corresponding active clause, has the structural status of an optional adverbial (it is marked (A) in Table 2.21). Even when.the agent bY'phrase is absent, however, there is an implication of its presence at the level of meaning. In this sense, the agent by-phrase acts as complementation (ef2.32) of the passive verbo Thus

He was eonsidered a genius carries the implication '

by someone or other'.

Table 2.21

Relations between active and passive clause types




V pass (A)

A number ofpeople saw the accident The accident was seen (by a number of people)






My father gave me this watch 1 was given this watch (by my father)



S Vp,ss Od (A)




V pass O¡ (A)




This watch was given (to) me (by my father)





V Od C.

Queen Victoria considered him a genius


V pass es CA)


He was considered a genias (by Queen Victoria)





An intruder must have placed the ladder there


V pass As (A)


The ladder must have been

placed there (by an intruder)

Note [a) There are some exceptions (eg the verbs have, cost, resemble; ej 10.14, 16.27) to the passive equivalence with type SVO; eg:

John had the book - ·The book was had by John. [b] The second passive corresponding to type SVOO in Table 2.21 aboye is unidiomatic in AmE. More acceptable, in both AmE and BrE, is the related SVOA ~ SVA passive with a prepositional phrase(cj2.23); eg:

Some ftowers had been brought him. is less natural than:

Some ftowers had been brought jor him.

With some verbs the former type seerns quite unacceptable (ef 16.55ff):

·Some fish had been caught/bought/cooked uso

Copular and complex transitive structures

2.22 Another correspondence often obtains between an SVOC clause and a clause with an infinitive or that-clause (cfI6.50j):



cons! ere

d h



ifi 1 eautl u . "'"

{I considered her to be beautiful.

1 considered that she was beautiful.


Clause structure


This correspondence indicates that the O and C of an S VOC clause are in the same relation to one another as the S and C of an SVC clause: She was beautiful (ef I6.43ff). This relation is expressed, wherever it is made explicit

at aIl, by a copular verb, and we may therefore caIl it, for further reference, a COPULAR relationship. Copular relationships are important in other aspects of grammar apart from cIause structure. They correspond, for example, to



of apposition (ef 17.65ff) and many relations of modification (ef

Further, we may extend the concept of 'copular relationship' to the relation between subject and adverbial in SVA c1auses and the relation between object and adverbial in SVOA clauses (eflO.l0, 16.24, 16.48).


" f.i


':, :r


Indirect objects and prepositional phrases

2.23 There is a further correspondence by which SVOO cIauses can be converted into SVOA clauses by the substitution of a prepositional phrase foIlowing the direct object for the indirect object preceding it:

She sent Jim a card "" She sent a card fo Jim. She left Jim a card '" She left a cardfor Jim.

To andfor, indicating a recipient (ef9.46), are the prepositions chiefly used, but others, such as with and of, are occasionally found (cf 16.57).


[al There are however, sorne recipíent to- andfor-phrases whíeh cannot be rnade into índireet

objeets: He suggested the idea to Bill; She described her IIome to us; etc. A borderlíne case is ?He

explailled me his plall, whicb. ís aeeeptable to sorne speakers, but not to others.

lb) We (ater (16.56ff) consider an alternative analysis in whieh the lo-phrases and thefor-phrases

descríbed as prepositiollal objeets, ano are regarded as grammatically

illustrated aboye are

et{ulv4{icui. LU ilid!! e.,:;( vbjects.

The characterization of clause elements

2.24 Por a fulIer appreciation of the clause patterns outlined in 2.16, we need to know, of course, on what grounds the elements subject, verb, object, complement, and adverbial are ídentified. The identification of the verb element in general presents no problem, as this element can be realized only by a verb phrase (ef 2.27). Por the other elements, it is necessary to use a variety of criteria. Although c1ause elements are functional categories (ef 2.12), their definítions are based on formal as weIl as on functional criteria. Thus it is an important part ofthe definition of both subjects and objects that they normalIy consist of noun phrases; it is an important part of the definition of complements that they are normally noun phrases or adjective phrases; and it is an important part of the definition of adverbials that they may be adverb phrases, prepositional phrases, or noun phrases. It is unnecessary to go into these definitions any further in this chapter. as they are elaborated i systematically in 10.5ff.
























Principies of grammatical concord, notional concord, and proximity Collective nouns and notional concord Coordinated subject Coordination with ami Coordination within a singular subject Coordinative apposition Quasi-coordination Coordination with or and nor Indefinite expressions as subject Concord of person Summary

Other types of concord

Subject-complement and object-complement concord Distributive number Pronoun reference

10.51 Semantic restrictions

























Forms of vocatives


Types of negation Chluse negation Clause negation through verb negation Contracted forms ofnegator and auxiliaries Syntactic features of clause negation Clause negation other than through verb negation Words negative in form and meaning Words negative in meaning but not in form Nonassertive items and negative items Nonassertive contexts Negative intensification More than one nonassertive item Scope of negation Focusofnegation Local negation Negation of modal auxiliaries Present forros of modals Past forms of modals Predication negation Double negation

Bibliographical note









































CJause patterns

Simple and multiple sentences

Clause patterns


10.1 Sentences are either SIMPLE or MULTlPLE. A simple sentence consists of a single independent clause. A multiple sentence contains one or more clauses as its immediate constituents. Multiple sentences are either COMPOUND or COMPLEXo In a compound sentence the immediate constituents are two or more COORDINATE clauses. In a complex sentence one or more of its elements, such as direct object or adverbial, are realized by a SUBORDINATE clause (el further 14.lff). Elements such as subject and verb are constituents of sentences and also

ofclauses within sentences. We shall speak ofCLAUSES and CLAUSE STRUCTURE

whenever what we say applies both to sentences and to the clauses of which sentences are composed. Thus a complex sentence with one subordinate

clause can be analysed twice over, once for the sentence as a whole and once for the subordinate clause included within the sentence:

s v You - can borro\<"
- can borro\<"









my car





subordinate clause

Fig 10.1


Sentence and c1ause elements

In the present chapter we are primarily concerned with simple sentences.

Discussion of coordinate clauses is deferred to Chapter 13 and of subordinate clauses to Chapters 14 and 15. The present chapter i8 further restricted to

aspects of the simple sentence chiefiy involving the elements subject, verb,

object, and complemento The adverbial, as a clause element that is generally

more detachable and more mobile than the others, receives detailed

consideration in Chapter 8.


[a] We use the term 'simple sentence' for an independent c1ause that does not have another

clause functioníng as one of its elements. Thus, [1] is a complex sentence in which ifyou need it functions adverbial:

You can borrow my car ifyou

need il.


However, a simple sentence may have a clause functíoníng wíthin a phrase. In that case the

complexity is at the level of the phrase, not at the level of the sentence or dause. Thus [2] is a simple sentence:


In f2] the relative clause Ihat belongs to my síster is a postmodifier within the complex noun

phrase constituting the object element the car Ihat belongs to my síster. Clauses functioning as modification of noun phrases are discussed in Chapter 17. Clauses functioning in the

complementation of adjective phrases are discussed in Chapter 16.

You can borrow the car that belongs to my sister.

720 The simple sentence

The term 'simple sentence' is frequent1y used elsewhere, but not in this book, ror an independent clause that does not contain another clause, regardless of whether the contained clause is an immediate constituent of the sentence or noto In some grammars, nonfinite constructions (which have a nonfinite verb as their verb element) are considered phrases rather than clauses. We treal such constructions as clauses because they can be analysed lnto clause elements (ef [4.5). Nonfinite clauses themselves are intrinsicaUy suoordínate and therefore do not constitule simple sentences in !he canonical forms (but cfll.4I). [b] A simple sentence ís no! necessarily simple in a nontechnical sense, For example, a simple senlence may be very complicated because its phrases are complex:

00 the recommendation of the committee, the temporary chairman, who had previous el\perience ofthe medical issues concerned, made the decísion that no further experiments on living animals should be conducted in circumstances that might lead lo unfavourable press publicíty, Other factors apart from the complexity of phrases are mentioned in 14.2.


Clause structures

We now turn to a further consideration of the clause structures outlined in 2,13Jj: We there distinguished five functional categories ofclause constituents, three of which were further subcategorized.









direct object (Od) indirect object (Oi) subject complement (C s )

- object complement (C o )


(A)- subject-related (A.)


object-related (A o )

By eliminating optional adverbials, we established seven major clause types, based on the permissible combinations of the seven functional categories, the clause elements. Table 10.2 opposite exemplifies the major clause types in their normal order in a simple declarative sentence, the canonical form of the sentence. The clause types are determined by the verb class to which the full verbs within the verb constituent belong. Different verb classes require different

the meaning of the verb, or

complementation (Od' O" cs, c o , A) to complete

(in the case of SV, where the verb is intransitive) no complementation.


Multiple class membership of verbs

1t must be borne in mind that a given verb can belong, in its various senses,

to a number of different classes (efApp 1.54), and hence enter into a number

is a particularly versatile one, being

excluded only from Type SV (and even then not universally; efNote):

of different clause types. The verb get


ae'!l get a surprise.


He's getting angry.


He got through the window.


He got her a splendid present.


He got his shoes and socks wet.

SVOA He got himself into trouble.

















~ ü














:~ #SO

¡;¡ ,5


.5 .~











''::: >



g ~


















~~ 8~










-o"" ~

'" ·5













Q. 8 .~


Clause patterns




o ~

o ~ a '"



-g~ *~

'" 2.


,- "'S2












ca ~



ª C')


- n



I 'ti







"' g,













































] '"

~~ ~ '"




o '"














'" ­


E "

8 a










722 The simple sentence

Through the multiple c1ass membership of verbs, ambiguities can arise: 1


found her an entertaining partner, líke She ealled him her favourite

waiter, could

be interpreted eíther as belongíng to the SVOC or SVOO types. The complementation of verbs receives detailed treatment in Chapter 16.

In informal (especíally dialectal) AmE, gel ís used even as an intransitive verb (= 'Ieave at once') in Type SV: She lold him lO gel.

Verb complementation

10.4 The elements, 0d' Cs> Ca, and A in the patterns exemplified in 10.2 and 10.3 are obligatory elements of c1ause structure in that they are required for the complementatíon of the verbo Gíven the use of a particular verb in a particular sentence, the sentence is incomplete if one of these elements is

omitted, eg: *Your dinner seems (type SVC) and *You ean put the dish (type

S VO A) are unacceptable. In sorne cases, however, a direct object or an object complement could from one point of view be considered grammatically optional:

They're eating. [S V] We elected her. [S V OJ He's teaching. [S VJ

ef They're eating lunch. [S V O] ef We elected her our delegate. [S V OC] ef He's teaching chemistry. [S V O]

He's teaching them chemistry. [S V O O]

We regard these as cases of conversion, whereby a word such as eat is transferred from the transitive to the intransitive category. Thus, They're eating is an instance of type S V rather than of S VO (with optional deletion of the object), We adopt this approach because there is to a greater or lesser extent a shift in meaning. To justify treating object omission as a matter of conversion, we may notice that it applies to some transitive verbs but not to others:

They're hunting deer. -

They're hunting.

They're chasing cats. -

*They're chasing,

AIso, one can find nonce object omissions, which again points to a word­ formation process rather than a syntactic process. Thus (*)John is lieking today is a highly improbable sentence for which one could (as with aH nonce­ formations) find a plausible use if one tried hardenough (eg a situation in which two people are alternatively employed in lickíng and sticking stamps on letters). Conversions from one verb category to another, íncludíng from transítive to intransitive verbs, are exemplified in App 1.54. A similar approach may be made to ínstances where the indirect object is omissible:

She gives expensive presents. [S V 0d] efShe gives her friends expensive presents. [S V Oí Od]

But here the case for conversion is not so strong, and one may regard the indirect object with many verbs as an optional element similar in status to an optional adverbial. We should in principIe distinguish different types of omission of objects, though the distinction may be blurred in particular instances :

Syntactic functions of clause elements


A specific object is recoverable from the preceding linguistic context:

A: Show me your essay.

Let's do the dishes. 1'11 wash and you dry.

B: 1'11 show you later.

In such instances the verb may be analysed as genuinely transitive with ellipsis of the direct object.

(2) A specific object is understood from the si tuational context:

Keep off [sign on grass]


The tie doesn'tfit.

Shake well before use.


(3) A specific reftexive object is understood when the verb allows such an

object (ef6.25):

I'm shaving.

They're dressing.

Sorne verbs allow omission of either a reflexive or a nonreftexive object: She's

washing (herselfor the clothes).

(4) A nonspecific object is semantically entailed (ef16.l9):

Are you eating again?

He teaehes.

They can't spell. 1don't want to read.

Do you drink?

1don't want to catch you smoking again.

1can't come

now, because I'm cleaning.

The range of understood nonspecific objects is restricted with sorne verbs when they are used intransitively. For example, Do you drink? rerers to the drinking of a1coholic drinks, I'm cleaning refers to domestic cleaning and not (say) to cleaning teeth or cleaning a pipe, and to eateh vou smoking again normaHy excludes (say) smoking fish. In other instances, the intransitive verb may Iack the causative meaning of the transitive verb: Contrast He

walked and He walked the dog (ef 10.22).


In some instances the omission of a sentence element radically changes the sense of the verbo Contrast the use ofthe verbjind and run in these examples:

1 have found her reasonably helpful. [8 V O C] 1 have found her. [8 V OJ He is running a business.¡8 V O] He is running. [8 V]

Syntactic functions of clause elements

10.5 A partial characterization of the clause elements based on formal criteria is given in 2.24. Formal critería usual1y suffice to identify the verb element within a c1ausal context, since the verb eIement is always realized by a verb phrase, We have also noted its syntactic importance in determining what other elements may or must occur in the clause (ef 1O.3!). We now give further consideration to the other clause elements.

724 The simple sentence

Distinctions between the elements and between types within the elements - are based on (i) forms (noun phrase, verb phrase, adjective phrase, finite clause, etc), (ii) position, (iii) syntactic function other than positional potentialities, and (iv) semantic role. It is primarily on the basis of (iii) and (iv) that a distinction is made between Od and Oí, C s and C The following sentences contain final phrases that are identical in form and position:



They told the mayor. {They told his life story.

They admired the

Theyadmired his tife story.

But the identity stops there. While the process of admiring the mayor is parallel to that ofadmiring his lífe story, telling the mayor involves something very different from telling his life story. The difference is confirmed by coordination:

They admired the mayor and his life story. *They told the mayor and his Jife story.

Equally, if we attempt to introduce apposition, we can contrast:

They admired the mayor, ie his Jife story. *They told the mayor, ie his !ife story.

In other words, the mayor and his l!fe story are realizations of the same type of O with admire but are realizations of different types of O with tell. Consequent1y, we eannot have:

''They admired the mayor his !ife story.

But we can have:

They told the mayor his !ife story.

Henee it is necessary (for this last sentenee) to distinguish O; (the mayor) from Od (his lije story).


Ir the verb is in the simple present, it may be indistinguishable from a noun in a sentence in block language (el 11.45), where determiners are commonly omitted:

Mailleaves tomorrow. ['Mail the leaves tomorrow.' or 'The mailleaves tomorrow.'l


10.6 Of the clause elements other than the verb, the subject is the most important in that (except for the verb) it is the e1ement that is most often present. It is also the element for which we can find the greatest number of eharaeteristic features. In characterizing the subject and the other clause elements, we identify the four types of distinetion listed in 10.5. Beeause of its conspieuousness we treat position separately from other syntaetic functions.


The subject is normally a noun phrase (efChapters 5, 6, and 17) or a nominal clause (efI5.3ff).


The subjeet normal1y oceurs beforethe verb in declarative c1auses, and after the operatorin yes-no interrogative clauses (ef 11.5ff) :

operatorin yes-no interrogative clauses (ef 11. 5ff) : Syntactic functions of clause elements Everbody [S] has

Syntactic functions of clause elements

Everbody [S] has left [V] for the day. Has [op] everybody [S]left for the day?


In wh-interrogative clauses, subjeet-operator ínversion also oecurs except where the wh-element is itself the subject:

What have [op]you [S] seen today? What [S] has {op] kept you so long?


(i) A subjeet is oblígatory in finíte c1auses exeept in imperative c1auses, where it ís normally absent but implied (ef 11.24ff). (ii) In finite c1auses the subjeet determines the number and person, where relevant, ofthe verb (eflO.34ff):

Naney [S] knows[V] my parents. {singular number eoncord] Naney and David [S] know [V] my parents. [plural number concord] I[S] am [V] your new colleague. [singular number and 1st person eoneord]

(iii) The subject normally determines number of the subject complement when that is a noun phrase (efI0.46):

Caroli'ne [S] is my sister Caroli'ne and Vanessa [S] are my sisters [C].

(iv) The subjeet determines the number and, where relevant, tue person and gender of the reflexive pronoun as direet object, indirect object, subjeet eomplement, or prepositional complement (ef6.23, 10.48, 10.50). The same eoneord relatíon generally applies when the emphatic genitive my own, etc is used (ef6.30):

1[8] shaved myself[O] with my own razor. He [S] shaved himself[O] with his own razor.

(v) The subject requires the subjective form for pronouns that have distinctive case forms (ef6.4):

1 [SJ 1ike him. He [S] likes me.

(vi) There is a systematic correspondence between active and passive

elauses in that the direct or indirect object of an active clause beeomes the

subject of a passive clause while the subject of the active clause is either omitted or made the complement in a by-agent phrase (ef 16.26):

My son [S] has prepared lunch [O] today, [active]

- Luneh [S] has been prepared by my son today. [passíve]

(vii) The subject is repeated in a tag question by a pronoun form (efll.8ff):

The mi/k is sour, isn 't it?

(viii) The implied subject of a subjectless nonfinite or verbless clause is normally identical with the subject of the superordinate clause:

Susan telephoned befare eoming overo ['

befQre Susan carne over']

726 The simple sentence


The subjeet is typíealIy the therne (or topie) ofthe e/ause (e/18.9JJ). It typíeally refers to ínforrnation that ís regarded by the speaker as gíven (e/18.8JJ). (iií) In a clause that ís not passive, the subject is agentive if the agentive role ís expressed in the clause (eflO.33).

Note [a) For adverbial forms functioning as subject, efIO.15. On adjectives functioning as heads of noun phrases (the young), ef7.23ff. [b] For declarative clauses with subject-operator or subject-verb inversion, ef 1O.58j. 15.36,


[e] For the question of there as a subject in existential sentences, ef 18.46.

[d) The implied subject of a postmodifying participle clause is the head ofthe noun phrase:

1 haven't yet seen thefriends staying with you. ['The friends are staying with you.'1 These are theflowersgiuen to us by our children. ['The ftowers were given to us by ourchildren.']

[e) The identity orthe subject can be tested in an independent declarative clause through a wh­

question with who or what. The subject is the elernent that can be replaced in its normal position by the w¡"'itern:

Joan [SI wants a
Joan [SI wants a

of cake. -

Who [SI wants a

Joan [SI wants a of cake. - Who [SI wants a is disturbing Percy. - What

is disturbing Percy. -

What [S] is disturbing Percy?

Other clause elernents require fronting and subject-operator inversion:

Joan wantsapieeeofeake[O].

What[O] does Joan want?

Object: direct and iodirect

10.7 Dírect and indirect objeets have sorne eharacterístics in common, and this faet justifies their sharing the terrn objeet:

(a) FORM

Like the subject, the object is norrnally a noun phrase or a nominal clause. There are constraínts on the types of nominal clauses that can be indireet objeet: generally, only nominal relative clauses (ef 15.8.f).

(b) posmON

The objeet norrna11y foUows the subjeet and verb If both objects are present, the indireet direet objeet (but ef 18.38):

present, the indireet direet objeet (but e f 18.38): 1 9 a v e my address


my address [Od]'


The objeet funetion requires the objeetive form for pronouns that have distinetive case forms:

They amuse me [Od]' 1 amuse them [Od].

They gave me [O¡) sorne chocolate. 1gave them [O¡) sorne chocolate.

(H) If an objeet is eoreferential wíth the subjeet, it usually requires a reflexive pronoun whieh agrees with the subjeet in person and, where

Syntactic functions of clause elements


relevant, in number and gender. Similar agreement is required for an emphatie genitive (my own, etc) within the objeet (ef6.30):

You [S] can please yourself[Od]'

I[S] have given myse(([O¡] a treat.

They [S] type their own letters [Od]'

The objeet of an active elause may generally beeome the subjeet of the eorresponding passive clause (but efNote [e] below, 16.27):

We have finished the work [0 0 ], -

The work [S] has been finished.

lfboth objects are present, it is often possible to make either the subjeet in a corresponding passive e/ause:

We sent Jaek [O;] a eopy ofthe letter [Od].



But [1] is far more eommon than [2]. Instead of the retained indireet objeet in [2], the prepositional paraphrase is more usual:

- Jaek [S] was sent a eopy ofthe letter [Od]'

"" A eopy ofthe

letter [S] was sent Jaek [O¡].

A eopy of the letter was sent lO Jaek.

(iv) The indireet objeet genera11y eorresponds to a prepositional phrase, whieh is generally plaeedafter the direet objeet:

I'll send Charles another eopy. Pour me a drink.

1'11 send another eopy to Charles. "" Pour a drink for me.


(v) The indirect objeet can genera11y be omitted without affeeting the semantic relations between the other elements:

David saved me a seat.


David saved a seat.


David saved me.

Henee, if there is only one objeet present, it is genera11y the direet objeet. But with a few verbs that are norma11y ditransitive, the indireet objeet may be retained while the direet object is omitted.ln that case the only object present is the indireet objeet:

Bob is teaehing the older ehildren.

You can pay me instead.


(O The direet objeet typieally refers to an entity that is affeeted by the aetion denoted in the elause (ef 10.19, but ef also 10.27ff) :

Norman smashed a window in his father's ear.

(ii) The indireet objeet typiea11y refers 10 an animate being that is the recipient ofthe aetion (eflO.19, but ef also 10.32).

Note (a] We do not, as sorne do, apply the term 'indirect object' to the corresponding prepositional phrases (eg:for me in Pour a drillk for me), though we use the term 'prepositional object' for the complernent in such phrases (cfI6.56, 16.60). Sorne apply the term 'direct object' 10 an indirect

object if it is the only object (eg: you in rtl show you or his ehildren in He's teaching his children).

Others again apply the t

""" '~¡.,;~" ~! _; •• •• ~ •
""" '~¡.,;~"
~! _; ••
•• ~ •

728 The simple sentence

[b] Speakers vary in their acceptance of wh·questions in which tbe wh-interrogative pronoun

replaces an indirect object. The corresponding prepositional phrase is fully acceptable:

?Who did the detective sbow his badge?

- Who did the detective show his badge UJ'

- To ",hom did the detective show llis badge? <formal) Similar variation applies to relative clauses;

?The person r sent the book has not acknowledged receiving it.

- The person [ sent ¡be book 10 has not acknowledged receiving it.

- The person lO whom 1sent the book has not acknowledged receiving it. (formal)

It also applies to retained indirect objects in passi ve clauses:

?No reply has been given me.

- No reply has been given lO me.

Retained indirect objects are gene rally restricted to pronouns.

Al! three constructions have been exemplífied by indirect objects with corresponding prepositional phrases introduced by lo. The constructions are less acceptable wíth other correspondences (eg :for-phrases) ()f no conespondences.

[e] In instances where the passive is inapplicable because the object is a clause, we can test for

the presence of an object by adding a coordinate clause with a pro-form and making the second

clause passive. r asked whetber be was

- Thal was asked by bis parents. [dI The identity of the direct object can be tested in an índependent declarative clause through

a wh-question with who or whal; fronting of the wh-item and subject-operator inversion are required:

tbere and bis parents asked Ihat too.

The buzzersignals theend o/lhe game [Od)'

- Whaf [Od] does [op]/he buzzer[S] signal? On the difficu1ty of applying this test to the indirect object, e/Note lb) aboye.

Complement: subject and object

10.8 Both complements are in a copular relationship with another clause element. The subject complement rejares to the subject, and the verb ís copuiar (el


My glass is empty. Their daughter has become an aeeountant.

The object complement relates to the direct object:

We find them very pleasant. Carol made Joshua ~nd Peter her assistants.





The implied relationship between the object and the object complement can be expressed by means of a corresponding SVC sentence with a copular verb, be ifthe object complement is a current attribute and beeome if it is a resulting

attribute (e/lO.20):



They are very pleqsant. Joshua and Peter became her assistants.



The complement is normally a noun phrase or an adjective phrase, but it may also be a nominal clause (el 15.4ff). It is a defining characteristic of complements, in contrast to objects, that they may be adjective phrases.



The subject complement normally follows the subject and the verbo The

Syntactic functions of clause elements


object complement normally follows the direct object. (But el 11.15, 11.31, 18.20ff, 18.37).


(i) If it is a noun phrase, the subject cornplement normally has concord of

number W"ith the subject, and the object complement normally has concord of number with the direct object (but ell 0.46). Contrast [2] and [4].

(ii) If it is a reflexive pronoun, the subject complement has concord of

number, person and, where relevant, gender with the subject:


She is not herselftoday.

(jii) Unlike the object, the complement cannot become the subject of a corresponding passive clause. There is no corresponding passive clause for the SVC type. With the SVOC type, the direct object can of course be made the subject of a passive clause:



The object complernent becomes the subject complement in the passive clause.

(iv) The complement can be questioned, but there is no one general way of doing so (e/ll.5 Note [e], lU5 Note [iJ). (v) If the subject complement is a pronoun, there is a distinction between subjective and objective forms; the subjective form is more prevalent in formal use (especially in AmE):

His friends call him Ted. [Ted is Col ""' He is called Ted by his friends. [Ted is

C ]


This is he. (formal)

That's him.


1M complement typicalIy identifies or characterizes the referent ofthe c1ause

element to which it is related (e/lO.20).

[a] With sorne verbs, object córnplements can be omitted (c/16.44Jf"):

W"e appointed her ourdelegate lo Ihe

We appointed her.

They have named their baby Roger. - They have named Iheír baby. [b] The object complement cannot be the normal reflexive pronoun, but it can have a corresponding form with selflselves:

[ prefer George his normal self


1did not find them /heir 'Usual se/ves.

10.9 Adverbials are the most diverse of the clause elements, and we therefore distinguish several major types (el Chapter 8, 15.17ff).



The adverbial is normally an adverb phrase, prepositional phrase, or adverbial clause. It may also be a noun phrase (e/8.13).

(b) POsmON

In general, the adverbial is capable of occurring in more than one position in the c1ause. Constraints on its mobility depend on the type and forro of the adverbial. The adverbial in the SVA type normally follows the subject and

730 The simpLe sentence

verb, and the adverbial in the SVOA type nonnally follows the direct object (ef 10.10, also 8.27). Other predication adjuncts (ef 8.34J, 15.22) normally appear at the end of the clause.


(i) Exeept for the obligatory adverbial in the SVA and SVOA types (ef 10.10), adverbials are optional: they may be added to or removed from the clause without affecting its acceptability and without affecting the relations of structure and meaning in the rest of the c1ause. Other syntaetic potentialities depend crucial1y on the type of adverbial. At the most generallevel, the adverbial may be charaeterized negatively: it does not have the syntactic features listed for the other clause elements (ef



The adverbial refers to the eireumstanees of the situation (adjunet and subjunet), comments on the form or eontent of the clause (disjunet), or provides a link between elauses (conjunct). A more speeific semantic characterization relates to the semantic subtypes of adverbials (efChapter 8 and 15.24ff).


The terrn 'adjunct' is sornetirnes applied by others to all types of adverbial.

Obligatory adverbials: subject-related and object-related adverbials

10.10 Obligatory adverbials are a subclass of predieation adjuncts (ef 8.27) that belong to the SVA and SVOA types. Inasmuch as they are obligatory, they are central elements of the clause (ef 2.13), part of the clause nucleus. They may be adverb phrases, prepositional phrases, or adverbial clauses. In 10.11 '.'!e sugge:st that some obligatory adverb phrases and prepositional phrases may be analysed as complements, belonging to the SVC and SVOC types. Obligatory adverbials are commonly required as complementation for the verb BE in the SVA type, but they are also found as complementation for other verbs. The adverbials in this type are subject-related. Many are space adjuncts that designate the posítion of the referent of the subject:

Your children are outside.

Our car isn't in the garage. We are now living in a small village. The plane's offthe ground.

Dorothy is remaining at Oxford.

Sam is staying at a nearby motel.

Your scarf is Iying on thefioor. The road begins in Denver.

Some express other types of space relations:

We got offthe train. We all got into my ear. 1 stole into her room.

AIl roads lead to Rome.

The lawn goes a/l the way around ¡he house. The hills extendfrom here into the next eounty.

Syntactic functions of clause elements


Others express metaphorical extensions of space relations:

They're into yoga. ['are keen on yoga'] <informal)

We got into a heated argumento He's offeigarettes.

Time adjunets commonly cooeeur with an eventive subject (efl0.25):

Their holiday extended through the summer. The next meeting is on Monday. The last performance was at eight o'cloek.

The play lastsfor three hours.

On the conditions for omítting the prepositions in the last three examples, ef


We briefiy exemplífy other semantic types of obligatory adverbials in the SVA s type:



eggs arefor yOU.

[recipient, 9.46]

The drinks arefor thejourney.

[purpose, 9.45]

Iffruit prices are higherthis year, it'sbeeause

[reason, 9.44]

ofthe bad harvest.

T ransport to the mainland is by ferry.

Entranee was by special invitation only. Payment is by edsh only.

Melvin's main interest is in sport. Jack and Nora are with me.

The painting was by an

How mueh is this jacket? lt's i60.

unknown artist.

[means, 9.49] [means] [means] [stimulus, 9.51] [aecompaniment, 9.52] [agent, 9.50] [measure, 8.91

The connection of subject-related adverbial with subject is parallel to that

of subject complement with subject:

Ronald is offcigarettes. [S V As]

Ann is happy. [S V C.]

Similarly, the connection of object-related adverbial lo direct object parallels that of object complement with direct object:


We kept Ronald off cigarettes. [S V Od Ao] We kept Ann happy. [S V Od Col

Here are examples of object-related adverbials:

1 put the kettle on the stove. ['The kettle is now on the stove.'1 They are placing the blame on uso I'm keeping most of my money in the bank.

1 stuck the wallet in ¡he drawer. He set the typewriter on the tableo You should have your hands on the wheel. He directed his speech at the workers. She wants the payment in do/lars.

Like opÜonal adverbials of the same semantic types, most oblígatory adverbials can be questioned with wh-interrogative adverbials such as where,

732 The simple sentence

when, how long, why. The exceptions include the metaphorical extensions of space relations, but also the semantic relations of recipient, means, agent, stimulus, and accompaniment.


[a] In certain instances. a verb of motion is implied before the obligatory adverbials:

She asked them in. ['n show you OUI.

Truth wiU out. 1 want you inside.

1 let the cat out.

The construction with the intransitive verb is common in some varieties of colloquial AmE and Scottish English. especially with want:

The dog wants out.

1 want offat Sixth Street.

[b] The obligatory manner adverbial with behave in He's behaving badly is related to the subject, though we do not have a corresponding sentence with the copula (' He is badly) because of the adverb formo We similarly lack corresponding sentences when the prepositional phrase begins

wíth dírectional lato, as in We all gOl ¡nto myear, though we have the metaphorical informal They're jnto yoga. Compare also the metaphorical They're on to his machinations ['aware of]. [e] The obligatory manner adverbial in They Ireated him badly seems to be related both to the subject('They are behaving badly.') and to theobject ('He is in abad way.').

Gradience and multiple analysis

Prepositional phrases and adverbs as complement

10.11 Sorne clause structures and c1ause elements can be analysed in more than one way. In this and the following sections we examine instances that are best treated through gradience and multiple analysis (cf2.60f). The distinction between obligatory adjunct and complement is not clear­ cut for all prepositional phrases. Some prepositional phrases are semantically similar LO adjective or noun phrases functioning as complement:

They were out ofbreath.

That is of no irnportance. He is under suspicion. She is in good health.

They are not at ease.

- They were breathless. -


- - They are not relaxed.

That is unimportant. He is a suspect. She is healthy.

More importantly, such prepositional phrases can be coordinated with, or placed in apposition with, adjective phrases that undoubtedly function as complement:

She is young and in good health. They were out ofbreath and extremely tired. They are not at ease, ie not relaxed.~

Furthermore, unlike clear instances of obligatory adjuncts, they can be used as complementation for copular verbs other than BE, a characteristic of adjective phrases functioning as subject complement:

They appear out ofbreath. That seems ofno irnportance. She feels in good health.

Here are other examples of prepositional phrases functioning as subject complement:

Syntactic functions of clause elements

They are in love.

We're over the worst.

The demonstration got out ofhand.

He feels af horneo

That child seems in trouble. 1don't feel up to it.

The house seems in good conditiOfl. He sounds in great danger.


We similarly find prepositional phrases functioning as object complement:

They put me at rny ease, ['I'm at my ease. ']

I don't consider myself al risk.

He didn't feel himself at horneo She didn't want me in any danger.

He imagined himself on the point ofdeath.

1 found him in trouble.

Some adverbs can also be complements:

The milk seems off. ['sour'] (informal) The performance is overo In technology we are ahead.

I am behind in my rento

The television is still on. He imagined himself ahead.

1 declare this meeting over, They let us off.

The adverbs and prepositional phrases that function as complement are metaphoricalIy related lo space adverbials. Unlike the latter, however, they cannot be questioned by adverbial where. Contrast in this respect:


A : Where are they ') .

{ They're out of town.

out OJ "'b




*Th' ey re

On the other hand, how may be used in sorne instances to question these complements, as it is for adjective phrases functioning as complement:

B :

A: How does she feel. ')


{She feels very happy.



e lee l' s In goo


d h



[a] Speakers may vary in particular instances as to whether a copular verb other than DI! is acceptable; for example, in Fm on time (ef.· Fm early) or You're on your OWn (ef: You're alone). Contrast: (?)I seemon time and, with look as a copular verb, (?)You look on yourown. [b] Off in The milk is off has moved into the adjective class for those who accept its premodification by very. [e] There may be semantic differences between prepositional phrases and parallel adjective phrases. For example, She is healthy suggests a more permanent condition than She is in good health.

Particles and clause types

10.12 We have so far considered the verb element as realized only by a verb phrase.

For Enrique and Carmen

A University Course in



Angela Downing

and Philip Locke

Universidad Complutense de Madrid

New York

Prentice Hall









Expressing patterns of eXperlenCe:

Processes, participants, circumstances

Module 13: Experiences expressed as situation types



Processes, participants; circumstances



Types of process



Inherent participants and actualised participants


Module 14: Expressing processes 01 doing and causing


14.1 Agent



14.2 Inanimate Agent or 'Force'


14.3 Affected



14.4 Effected


14.5 Recipient and Beneficiary roles


14.6 Causative processes


14.7 Causatives with corresponding one-participant processes: ergative pairs


Module 15: One-participant processes: containing a Subject which acts or is 8cted upon


15.1 Agentive Subject of a voluntary process


15.2 Affected Subject of an involuntary process


15.3 Expressing the properties of an entity


Module 16: Expressing what we perceive, think and 1eel


16.1 Mental processes


16.2 Perception processes


16.3 Cognitive processes


16.4 Affectivity processes


Module 17: Expressing processes 01 being and becoming


17.1 Attributive relational processes


17.2 Circumstantial relational processes


Expressing patterns uf experience

Module 18: Expressing processes 01 saying and existing


Verbal processes or processes of saying


Existl;intial processes or processes of existing

Module 19: Expressing the attendant circumstances

19 1

Spatial and temporal circumstances



























Module 20: Two subsidiary participants: Range and Instrumént

20.1 Range

20.2 Instrument




Module 21: Conceptualising experiences 1rom a different angle: grammatical metaphor

21.1 Congruent realisations and metaphorical realisations

21.2 Process realised as Thing

21.3 Attribute realised as Thing

21.4 Circumstance realised as Thing

21.5 Process and circumstance as part of the Thing

21.6 Dependent situation as Thing












110 Expressing patterns of experience

110 Expressing patterns of experience Summary Semantieally, a elause represents a pattern of experienee, eoneeptualised as


Semantieally, a elause represents a pattern of experienee, eoneeptualised as a situation type.

2 Situation types consist of:

Processes: materíal, mental, relational. Participants: animate, inanimate or abstraet entities. Attributes: qualities or cireumstanees of the partíeipants. Circumstanees: time, place, manner, cause, etc., of the whole situation.

3 The type of process usually determines the type and number of the participants (verb valeney):

one participant:

The dog barked. The dog bit the postman. Mary gave the Red Cross a donation.

two participants:

three participants:

participant unexpounded:

Do you drive? (a car)

no participant:

It is raining.


13.1 Processes, participants, circumstances

[n thís chapter we look at the clause as a grammatical means of expressing patterns of experience. A fundamental property of language ís that ít enables :lS to conceptualise and describe our experience, whether of the phenomena )f the external world or of the internal world oí our thoughts, feelings and )erceptions. The clause is, here too, the most significant grammatical unit, ,ince it permits us to encode, both semantically and syntactically, our mental )icture of the physical world and the worlds of our imagination. In this nental picture we can think of a elause as being the linguistic expression of a )attern of experience, conceptualised as a situation type. 'Situation' and situation type' are, therefore, used here to refer to the conceptualisation of ~xperience, as opposed to the social context or 'context of situation' in which 1I0cutionary acts are produced by speakers, as described in Chapter 5. Certain common experiences are typically not analysed in detail. We say

t's raining rather than Drops of water are falling from the sky. But as

anguage-users, we are usually interested in participants, especially when

Experiences expressed as situation types


one or more of them is human; we are interested in the qualities we ascribe to them, in what they do, say and feel and the circumstances in which these happenings take place. The semantic framework for a situation, therefore, consists pQtentially of the following components:

the process; the participants in the situation; the attributes ascribed to participants; the circumstances associated with the process.

The process

There is no satisfactory general term to cover that central part of a situation which is typical!y realised by the Predicator and which can be a' state, an action, an event, a transition or change of state, a elimatic phenomenon, a process of sensing, saying, behaving or simply existing. We here use the term 'process' to refer in a general sense to al! these types.

The participant roles (semantic functíons) ínvolved in the situation

The entities represented by these can be persons, objects or abstractions;

they can be the Agent of the action or be affected by it, benefit from it or

receive its. effects.

Indirect Object in the syntactic structure. They are the inherent semantic


They are typically realised by Subject, Direct Object and

There are al so other, non-inherent participants; for instance, lnstru­

ment, such as her handbag in She hit the burglar with her handbag.

The Attributes ascribed to entities

These either identify or characterise the entity, or state its location in space or time. They are realised syntactical!y by the intensive Complements (Comple­ ment of the Subject and Complement of the Object).

The circumstantial roles associated with the process

These inelude expressions of time, place, manner, means, cause, condition, concession, accompaniment and role. They are typically optional in the semantic structure, in the same way as their adjunctive realisations are in the syntactic structure. Circumstances can, however, be inherent to the situation, and are then described as complements (see 4.1.1). Such is the case with the locative expression which, as well as the Object, is obligatory with put as in

Put the flowers in water.

We have now outlined the framework which will serve to carry the differen! configurations of semantic functions that go to make up semantic structures. Not that any particular configuration is inherently given in nature. There are various ways of conceptualising a situation, according to what the lexico­ grammatical resources of a language permit. In English we may say that ir's cloudy, specifying simply a state (is) and an Attribute (cloudy); or that (he sky. is cloudy, adding a Carrier participant Cthe sky) tor the Attribnte; or that

clouds are gathering in the sky, in which we represent the ~situation as

112 Expressing patterns of experience

consisting of an inanimate Agent (clouds), a dynamic process (are gathering)