Showing posts from November, 2014

An adjectival dependent (subordinate) clause

A dependent clause is a group of words in the sentence with its own subject and verb that cannot stand alone and usually starts with a subordinator.

He came home. // independent clause

After he came home // dependent clause, has no meaning on itself

He prepared dinner after he came home.

After he came home, he prepared dinner.

Please notice that we usually separate dependent clause with a comma when it starts a sentence, and obviously we need an independent clause to combine with a dependent part to create a complex sentence.

A subordinate clause can act as an: adjective, adverb and noun in a sentence.

An adjectival clause is called a relative clause with essential and non-essential information.

Adjective clauses modify a noun or pronoun and answer the questions: which one? what kind? how many? They usually begin with a relative pronoun or with a relative adverb. Relative pronouns normally function in two ways: they join the clause to the word it modifies and they function as part of t…

Independent clause, correlative conjunctions and inversion

The correlative conjunctions are always in pairs. The most common connectors of independent clauses are:
either-or,whether-or,both-and, Either I heard someone knocking or I thought that I did.
Whether you like it or they like it, doesn't matter.
Both what I say, and what I do are important.
not only-but also, neither-nor, Not only will I do my best, but also I will do it correctly.
Neither had the man gone nor was he going soon.

The two sentences above - negative conjunctions require inversion in the clause. Inversion is normally used in questions and as a language tool to accentuate the uniqueness of the sentence.
Adverbs with negative meaning like: hardly, never, scarcely, little, no sooner, only, so, such, that and some conditionals are the next examples of inversion.

Independent clauses joined by a pair of correlative conjunctions make the sentence look complex and will give the extra marks on formal writing; thus, it is important to master them.

Not only do I want to master my En…

Correlative conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions, also called two words conjunctions or paired conjunctions, may link words, phrases and clauses. Here are the most common pairs. As / asBoth / andEither / orHardly / whenIf / thenJust as / soNeither / norNot only / but alsoNo sooner / thanNot / butRather / thanScarcely / whenWhat with / andWhether / or Correlative conjunctions create parallel structures which must agree grammatically. They may connect: nouns, adjective, phrases and independent clauses. 
Connecting nouns: I like both cats and dogs. Both France and Germany agreed to the treaty. Both John and Peter are teachers. 
Connecting adjectives: Theresa reads both romance and fantasy books. They were both kind, nice and cheerful. Life is not easy but difficult. In her life, Theresa was not only successful but also happy.
Connecting prepositional phrases: I will go for a holiday either in June or in July. He worked hard the whole life neither for fame nor for money.Our children want neither to go for a stroll n…

Independent clauses linked by a conjunctive adverb

Two independent clauses joined by a transitional word or phrase require a semicolon between them and a comma after a linking word.

Let's look at some examples:

It is true that among the Arunta, where visible traces of classification still exist, as we shall see, different words designate the totem and the other beings placed with it; however, the name given to these latter bears witness to the close relations which unite them to the totemic animal.

They themselves have an interest in its being celebrated; therefore, in certain tribes, it is they who invite the qualified clan to proceed with the ceremonies.
(Emile Durkheim. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life) 

Here is the list of the most common conjunctive adverbs: accordingly, furthermore, moreover, similarly, also, hence, namely, still, anyway, however, nevertheless, then, besides, incidentally, next, thereafter, certainly, indeed, nonetheless, therefore, consequently, instead, now, thus, finally, likewise, otherwise, und…

Conjunctive adverbs

Conjunctive adverbs called also transitional words and expressions or adverbial phrases or big, ugly linking words can be rather difficult to master for students of English as a second language.

First, they may work as simple adverbs, thus play the role of adverbs, modifying verbs, adjectives and other adverbs.

You can do it however you like, it really doesn't matter. (a modifier of a verb DO)However hungry I am, I never seem to be able to finish off a whole pizza. (a modifier of an adjective HUNGRY)
(Cambridge Dictionaries Online)
As simple adverbs, conjunctive adverbs may be placed at the beginning, at the end or in the middle of a sentence and they do not require using a comma. 
Conjunctive adverbs can also start a clause (a sentence) to indicate: result, concession, apposition, addition, time, contrast, summary or reinforcement. 
This is one possible solution to the problem. However, there are others. There may, however, be other reasons that we don't know about.
(The exam…

Independent clauses and coordinating conjunctions

An independent clause contains a subject and a verb, creates a complete thought and stands alone as a sentence.

A cat was basking in the sun.

When we add some phrases, the sentence is more interesting but it is still an independent clause.

Alise's big, fluffy cat was basking in the afternoon sun.
I have read that a simple sentence does not require commas. Well, as we can see it depends on a sentence. A simple sentence does not mean a short sentence.

Snoring and breathing aloud, Alise's big, fluffy cat was basking in the afternoon sun.
Snoring and breathing aloud, Alise's old, big, fluffy cat was happily basking in the afternoon sun on the sofa in the dining room.

As we can see, the length of the sentence will not tell us whether the sentence is simple or not. Sometimes a good simple sentence with many phrases is better than a compound sentence (two independent clauses).

Alise was reading and a cat was basking in the sun. (a compound sentence)

Independent clauses are linked t…

What is a clause?

We talked about phrases first, as it will help us discuss clauses.
A phrase is a group of words without subject-verb agreement whereas a clause has a subject and a verb, describing the subject of a clause. Therefore, a clause has at least two parts: a noun phrase (a subject) and a verb phrase. A clause constructs a simple sentence.

The girlswere laughing. Two phrases - a noun phrase and a verb phrase together create a complete thought, an independent clause and a sentence.

As we can see we use phrases to create sentences.

The little girls were laughing at my mistake.

An English clause always has a subject, sometimes it is a phrase acting as the subject of a sentence/clause. In imperative sentences, the subject is understood:

(You) Go and play.
(You) Please give me that book.

Some structures use a dummy subject: there, it:

It feels nice.
It was raining yesterday.
There were many people at the concert.

A subject of a sentence is created by nouns, pronouns and the whole noun phrase.
She likes…

Verb phrases and verbals

Obviously, every sentence in English has to have a verb or a verb phrase, sometimes in grammar called: a verb, a compound verb and a verb string.

A one-word verb in a sentence:
She went to the park.

A compound verb:
She went to the park and watched birds.

A verb phrase (a verb string) in English may comprise as many as four words:

must have been reading, should have been asked will have been built
Importantly, any word we may find between verbs in a verb string is an adverb, not a verb.

She must not have been reading.
She has often gone to the park.
Peter would also like to go to the park.
I will never let you go.

All words in blue are adverbs, modifying verbs.

After talking about phrases, we know that there are words in a sentence which look like verbs, but in a sentence they do not play verb roles. They are called verbals and may function in many different ways in a sentence.

Gerund (doing) is a noun; a gerund phrase will always act as a noun in a sentence.
Participle (doing, done) is a…

An appositive

An appositive is a word or a phrase re-naming or amplifying a noun/object right beside it. An appositive phrase does not exist on its own; it is a function of the phrases we already know, but acting as an appositive, therefore, all phrases which may act as nominals. An appositive phrase is set off by commas unless it is closely tied with a noun so that it renames it.

We will talk more about apposition while discussing defining and non-defining relative clauses.

My son Richard is a student. A vocative closely related and the comma is not needed. She probably has another son. In a sentence: My son, Richard, is a student, we understand that she has only one son.

Our teacher, Peter, is a very nice guy.
A vocative - a noun adding extra information about our teacher. Two commas separate the appositive from the sentence.

Professor Henry, a mathematics teacher at London's university, is going to visit New York next month.

The girl in a red dress is Sara Patterson of East Yorkshire, the be…