Index

The following topics are discussed in this Help file:

adverbial
clause, main
clause, subordinate
conjunction
free predicative
interjection
negator
non-finite complement
object, direct
object, indirect
object, oblique
object predicative
predicator
subject
subject, anticipatory
subject predicative
subordinator
vocative


adverbial

We can recognize several types of adverbial. A basic type indicates various accompanying circumstances of the event/situation described in the clause: time, place, reason, condition, etc. The questions you may use to identify an adverbial are of the following types:

Place:
Where did it happen?
From where did he come?

Time:
When did it happen?
How often did it happen?
How long did he stay there?

Reason/cause:
Why did it happen?

Manner:
How did he do it?

Condition:
On what condition will it happen?

Note that there may be more than one adverbial in a clause.

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clause, main

A main clause is a clause which has a finite verb group functioning as predicator and which is not introduced by a a subordinator.

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clause, subordinate

A subordinate clause is a clause which has a non-finite verb group functioning as predicator and/or is introduced by a a subordinator:

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conjunction

A co-ordinating conjunction (and, but, or) is placed between the two co-ordinated elements, whereas a subordinating conjunction is placed first in the subordinate clause. Remember that the function of the subordinating conjunction is

Beyond this, the subordinating conjunction has no syntactic function in the subordinate clause.

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free predicative

A free predicative (fP) is a clause element made up of a noun phrase or an adjective phrase which ascribes a quality or property to the referent of the subject without being linked to the subject by means of a copula: He returned home happy and contented (‘he was happy and contented when he returned home’); A timid child, he never made many friends (‘he was a timid child, so he never made many friends’). Unlike subject predicatives and object predicatives, free predicatives do not have a fixed position in the clause but can be moved around fairly freely. An free predicative is never part of the complementation pattern of a verb.

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interjection

An interjection (Int) is a noise, word or phrase which can be inserted in utterances for a variety of purposes: to give vent to the speaker’s emotions (ouch, wow, hell, oh bother, oh dear), to attract somebody’s attention (hey), to indicate hesitation (well..). An interjection is never part of the complementation pattern of a verb.

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negator

The negator not (or its contracted form n't) should be treated as part of the verb group, and consequently as part of the clause element predicator.

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non-finite complement

A non-finite complement (nfc) is a clause element required by certain intransitive and monotransitive verbs: He ended up writing a new book, She persuaded him to leave. The nfc is made up of an infinitive clause or an ing clause.

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object, direct

The direct object (dO) is the clause element which typically indicates the person/animal/thing affected by the action represented by the predicator. If in the clause The cat caught the rat you have identified caught as the predicator and The cat as the subject you should then go on to identify the direct object by asking the question What did the cat catch?. The answer is, the rat; thus, the rat is the direct object of the clause.

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object, indirect

The indirect object (iO) is the clause element which typically indicates the person who receives something (represented by the direct object) from somebody (represented by the subject). The indirect object is realized by a noun phrase (underlined in the following examples) placed before the direct object:

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object, oblique

The oblique object (oO) is a clause element which in one of its uses indicates a person who receives or loses/parts with something (in the first case the oO is an alternative realization of the indirect object). The oblique object is realized by a prepositional phrase (underlined in the following examples) placed after the direct object:

Another use of the term oblique object is found with verbs of the type convince somebody of something, deprive somebody of something, present somebody with something, where the underlined part in each example is a prepositional phrase which functions as an oblique object.

Unlike a direct or indirect object, an oblique object can never be made the subject of a passive clause.

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object predicative

The object predicative (oP) is the clause element which typically indicates a property of the person/animal/thing referred to by the direct object noun phrase. The oP is typically realized by an adjective phrase (She boiled the potatoes dry) or a noun phrase (They appointed him governor).

The verb preceding the oP is a so-called complex-transitive verb. Examples of complex-transitive verbs are (some uses of): appoint, elect, paint.

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predicator

The predicator is a clause element which is, typically, realized by a verb group which, in its turn, is made up from one or more words of the word class verb, possibly also including the negator not.

The predicator is the clause element which typically indicates what happens/happened. If you are in doubt about how to analyse a clause, for example The cat caught the rat, you should start by asking the question: What happened?. The answer is, Somebody caught somebody else; thus, caught is the predicator in the clause.

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subject

The subject (S) is the clause element which typically indicates the doer of an action. If in the clause The cat caught the rat you have identified caught as the predicator, you should then go on to identify the subject by asking the question Who caught something?. The answer is, The cat; thus, The cat is the subject of the clause.

A different kind of subject is found in a so-called passive clause, in which the verb group is marked for passive voice. The subject in the passive clause indicates a person/animal/thing affected by the action represented by the verb. In the clause His car was stolen last week you will have identified was stolen as the predicator, you can then go on to identify the subject by asking What was stolen?. The answer is, His car; thus, His car is the subject of this clause.

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subject, anticipatory

An anticipatory subject (aS) is a clause element which occurs in two types of construction:

In an extraposition construction like It surprised John that Mary got upset, the real subject (S) is the clause that Mary got upset (it tells us what surprised John). This clausal subject has, however, been extraposed, i.e. moved away from the standard subject position to a position last in the sentence. Since the subject position must not be left empty in an English clause, the pronoun it has been inserted in subject position. Since it anticipates the real subject, it is referred to as the anticipatory subject.

A different kind of anticipatory subject is found in a so-called existential there construction like There are two cars in the garage. The real subject is here two cars; the word there functions as the anticipatory subject.

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subject predicative

The subject predicative (sP) is the clause element which typically indicates a property of the person/animal/thing referred to by the subject noun phrase. The sP is typically realized by an adjective phrase (He felt very tired) or a noun phrase (John is an engineer).

The verb preceding the sP is a so-called copular verb, which basically serves to link the sP to the S. Examples of copular verbs are (some uses of): be, become, seem, get, feel, smell, taste.

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subordinator

A subordinator is a function word which marks the beginning of a subordinate clause. There are two types of subordinators in English:

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vocative

A vocative (Voc) is a referring or descriptive phrase which is typically used to get the addressee’s attention, indicate to whom an utterance is addressed or suggest the speaker’s attitude towards the addressee (John, Mary, darling, idiot). A vocative is never part of the complementation pattern of a verb.

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