Grammar in EAP

Clause Complexes and Complex Sentences

Subordination & Coordination

A simple sentence consists basically of one independent clause. For example:

"The idea of a National Government had implanted itself in the mind of the King."

Clauses can be combined to form clause complexes. There are two main ways in whcih clauses can be combined.

Subordinate Clauses

In a subordinate clause, one clause is always part of another clause. This forms a complex sentence. There are five main ways in which the clauses combine:

  • With a subordinating conjunction: as, if, when, before, after, because, unless, although, ....
  • With a wh- clause element: what, who, whoever, how, ...
  • With a non-finite clause: to infininitive clause, -ing clause, -en clause.
  • With a non-restrictive relative clause - restrictive relative clause mainly functiion as post-modifiers in nominal groups: Nominal Groups
  • With a that clause.

For example:

If a crash comes in Germany we will have a financial situation something like that at the outbreak of war, and there will be a demand for a moratorium all round.

When Keynes's memorandum was discussed in Cabinet in February 1946, defence expenditure for 1946/7 had already been cut by 14 per cent.

What we require is a National Emergency Government.

Understanding how a planet generates and gets rid of heat is essential if we are to undestand how that planet works.

They advised him to resign his job immediately.

Reducing the use of fossil fuels is an important aim of the new govenrment.

His Majesty impressed upon them that before they left the Palace some communiqué must be issued, which would no longer keep the country and the world in suspense.

The Prime Minister said that he had the resignation of his Cabinet in his pocket, but the King replied that he trusted there was no question of the Prime Minister's resignation.

That the British eventually accepted the American view in most details shows that they had largely subsumed the aviation issue in the larger question of economic viability,

A common type of complex sentence in academic writing is a cleft sentence:

It was not until 1838 that there was general acceptance that the two diseases were distinct.

See: Grammar: Cleft Sentences


Exercise: Complex Clauses Exercise

Coordinate Clauses

In this case one clause is combined with another clause of the same status, i.e. at the same level. This forms a compound sentence. The clauses are usually combined by using words such as and, or, nor, or but and also with punctuation in writing.

For example:

If a crash comes in Germany, we will have a financial situation something like that at the outbreak of war, and there will be a demand for a moratorium all round.

It was clear that the lines were drawn and that the two countries would have to compromise or they would need to find allies if the conference was not to degenerate into a complete fiasco.

The Chicago Civil Aviation Conference of 1944 is rarely discussed today, but it established the forms and organizations that have governed postwar civil aviation to this day.

For example, the law of supply and demand was not simply a matter of eternal logic, nor were such rights as that of private property self-evident truths,

Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. (Joseph Heller)

From 1860 on, however, a dramatic increase in the number of such works occurred; a veritable explosion of major publications took place which owed a great deal to the excitement aroused by The Origin of Species.

The central core of Formen is really an attempt to answer fundamental preliminary questions for Marx's theory of capital: what is property when it is not property as visualized in the particular formulation of capitalism?

NB: It is important that for coordinate clauses, the clauses must be syntactically alike.

Realisation of Clause Elements

These elements of clause stucture are realised by various word, groups or clauses. In English there is no one-to-one correspondence between class of unit (noun, verb, nominal group, finite clause, ...) and syntactic function (subject, predicator,  complement, adjunct). See: Grammar: Realisation of Claue Elements


Exercise: Compund Clauses Exercise