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4D - The Sentence Level

Published: 25.05.2010, Updated: 03.03.2017
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The simple clauses we have used as illustrations above have one verbal. We can combine two or more clauses, each with its own verbal, into clause combinations. Such combinations are technically referred to as sentences because they have two verbals.

The more formal and complex styles we talked about in the 'Style' section often have difficult vocabulary, long and complex noun phrases, but also complicated clause combinations with many sub-clauses packed between two full stops.

Here are some examples of different types. Each clause has been underlined.

Coordination (‘sideordning’) by means of conjunctions and, but, or, etc.

  • John left and/but I stayed.
  • You can leave or you can stay for dinner


Subordination (‘underordning’) by means of subjunctions when, because, if, that, etc.
In such cases the sub-clause functions as a clause element in the main clause.

  • If you do one of the problems, I’ll buy you a drink (initial sub-clause is an adverbial)
  • She didn’t go out into the garden when she got home (final sub-clause is an adverbial)
  • She demanded that the mess should be cleared out (final sub-clause is a direct object )

 

Subordination and coordination combined into more complex combinations.
The final sub-clause below is the direct object after wondered. There is coordination of two clauses inside the final sub-clause

  • She wondered whether John would take part and whether he wanted money for the job.


Subordination of non-finite clauses
(i.e. clauses with verbals not marked for tense (‘tid’))
People walk past the house to see its garden. (non-finite is an adverbial of purpose)
We can’t risk losing everything. (non-finite is the direct object of can’t risk)

Clauses can be combined in a great number of ways and even stacked inside each other in very complex hierarchies. Such usage is frequent in the formal, written language of academic articles and in some types of news reports. Here is a typical example, stretching over almost three lines. Note its typical ‘newsy’ way of starting with the message and then adding the source at the very end.

Teenagers who listen to rap and pop songs with degrading sexual lyrics are more likely to engage in precocious sexual activity than their contemporaries who listen to songs that, though explicit, are not considered to be sexually degrading, a study claims.
The Independent, Feb 24, 2009

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