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A sentence becomes an utterance when it is used in the continious flaw of speech aimed at bringinginto the conversation some need facts or ideas. It is only within the discourse that the sentence acquires a definite pattern of presenting information in which one idea is viewed as a continuation of the previously mentioned one. Declarative sentences are traditionally defined as those expressing statements, either affirmative or negative, e.g.: He (didn’t) shut the window. Imperative sentences express inducements of various kinds (orders or requests); they may also be either affirmative or negative, e.g.: (Don’t) Shut the window, please. Interrogative sentences express questions, or requests for information, e.g.: Did he shut the window? Any sentence expressing sudden emotion is called exclamatory sentence. It is accompanied by the ! sign (exclamation point). As for so-called “purely exclamatory sentences”, such as My God!; Goodness gracious!; etc., as was mentioned earlier, they are not sentences in the proper sense of the term, though they occupy isolated positions like separate utterances in speech. They are also treated as “pseudo-sentences”.

Nominative and actual divisions of the sentence.The notional parts of the sentence referring to the basic elements of the reflected situation form, taken together, is the nominative meaning of the sentence. For the sake of terminological consistency, the division of the sentence into notional parts can be just so called — the "nominative division." Alongside of the nominative division of the sentence, the idea of the so-called "actual division" of the sentence has been put forward in theoretical linguistics. The purpose of the actual division of the sentence, called also the "functional sentence perspective", is to reveal the correlative significance of the sentence parts from the point of view of their actual informative role in an utterance, i.e. from the point of view of the immediate semantic contribution they make to the total information conveyed by the sentence in the context of connected speech. In other words the actual division of the sentence in fact exposes its informative perspective.The term “actual division” has been described in cognitive grammar as focusing, profiling or grounding which consists in putting some conceptual content on stage to be immediately accessed by the listener, leaving the other part of the conceptual content in the background. The term “actual division” is sometimes mistakenly associated with the word order which has little of anything to do with it. It is more connected with the intonation rather than with grammar.The main components of the actual division of a sentence are the theme and the rheme. The theme is the starting point of communication, a thing or a phenomenon about which something is reported in the sentence; it usually contains some old, “already known” information. The rheme is the basic informative part of the sentence, its contextually relevant communicative center, the “peak” of communication, or the information reported about the theme; it usually contains some new information. There may be transitional parts of actual division of various degrees of informative value, neither purely thematic, nor rhematic; they can be treated as a secondary rheme, the “subrhematic” part of a sentence; this part is called “a transition” For example: Again Charlie is late. – Again (transition) Charlie(theme) is late (rheme). The rheme is the obligatory informative component of a sentence, there may be sentences which include only the rheme; the theme and the transition are optional.


A sentence is a minimal group of words which expresses predicative and is used for the purpose of communication. Predicative connection of the Subject and Predicate make some the backbone of any complete sentence in English. Sentences can be classified according to the structure into simple, composite and semi-composite.

Simple sentences are monopredicative units. It means in their structure they must have 1 Subject to 1 Predicate: Bob has never left the stadium. Opinions differ. Thismay happen any time. The offermight have been quite fair. According to this definition, sentences with several predicates referring to one and the same subject cannot be considered as simple. E.g.: I took the child in my arms and held him. Sentences having one verb-predicate and more than one subject to it, if the subjects form actually separate (though interdependent) predicative connections, cannot be considered as simple, either. E.g.: The door was open, and also the front window.

The syntactic functions or the members of the sentence are traditionally divided into principal (main) and secondary. The principal parts of the sentence are the subject and the predicate, which modify each other: the subject is the “person” modifier of the predicate, and the predicate is the “process” modifier of the subject; they are interdependent. The secondary parts are: the object – a substance modifier of the predicate; the attribute – a quality modifier of substantive parts, either the subject or the object; the adverbial modifier – a quality modifier of the predicate. E.g.: The small lady listened to me attentively.



When analysing sentences in terms of syntagmatic connections of their parts, two types of subordinative relations are exposed: on the one hand, obligatory relations, i.e. such as are indispensable for the existence of the syntactic unit as such; on the other hand, optional relations, i.e. such as may or may not be actually represented in the syntactic unit. These relations are at present interpreted in terms of syntactic valency (combining power of the word) and are of especial importance for the characteristic of the verb as the central predicative organiser of the notional stock of sentence constituents. In the cited sentence obligatory positions will be expressed by the string "The lady listened to me", the attribute "small" and the adverbial "attentively" being the optional parts of the sentence.

"Elementary sentence" is a sentence all the positions of which are obligatory. In other words, this is a sentence which, besides the principal parts, includes only complementive modifiers; as for supplementive modifiers, they find no place in this type of predicative construction.

Bearing in mind that the general identification of obligatory syntactic position affects not only the principal parts of the sentence but is extended to the complementive secondary parts, we define the unexpanded (non-extended) simple sentence as a monopredicative sentence formed only by obligatory notional parts. The expanded (extended) simple sentence will, accordingly, be defined as a monopredicative sentence which includes, besides the obligatory parts, also some optional parts, i.e. some supplementive modifiers which do not constitute a predicative enlargement of the sentence, i.e. do not make the sentence into a composite or semi-composite sentence. For example, the sentence ‘He gave me the book’ is unexpanded, because all the nominative parts of this sentence are required by the obligatory valency of the verb to give. The sentence ‘He gave me a very interesting book’ is expanded, because it includes an expansion, the attribute-supplement very interesting.

The subject-group and the predicate-group of the sentence are its two constitutive "members", or, to choose a somewhat more specific term, its "axes" (in the Russian grammatical tradition — «составы предложения»). According as both members are present in the composition of the sentence or only one of them, sentences are classed into "two-member" and "one-member" ones.

Scholars point out that "genuine" one-member sentences are characterised not only as expressing one member in their outer structure; in addition, as an essential feature, they do not imply the other member on the contextual lines. In other words, in accord with this view, elliptical sentences in which the subject or the predicate is contextually omitted, are analysed as "two-member" sentences.

Our approach to the syntactic category of axis part of the sentence is as follows.

All simple sentences of English should be divided into two-axis constructions and one-axis constructions.

In a two-axis sentence, the subject axis and the predicate axis are directly and explicitly expressed in the outer structure. This concerns all the three cardinal communicative types of sentences. E.g.: The books come out of the experiences. What has been happening here? You better go back to bed.

In a one-axis sentence only one axis or its part is explicitly expressed, the other one being non-presented in the outer structure of the sentence. Cf.: "Who will meet us at the airport?" — "Mary." The response utterance is a one-axis sentence with the subject-axis expressed and the predicate-axis implied: → *Mary will meet us at the airport. Both the non-expression of the predicate and its actual implication in the sub-text are obligatory, since the complete two-axis construction renders its own connotations. "Glad to see you after all these years!" The sentence is a one-axis unit with the predicate-axis expressed and the subject-axis implied as a form of familiarity: → *I am glad to see you...

These examples belong to "elliptical" types of utterances in so far as they possess quite definite "vacant" positions or zero-positions capable of being supplied with the corresponding fillers implicit in the situational contexts. Since the restoration of the absent axis in such sentences is, so to speak, "free of avail", we class them as “free” one-axis sentences. The term "elliptical" one-axis sentences can also be used, though it is not very lucky here; indeed, "ellipsis" as a sentence-curtailing process can in principle affect both two-axis and one-axis sentences, so the term might be misleading.

Alongside of the demonstrated free one-axis sentences, i.e. sentences with a direct contextual axis-implication, there are one-axis sentences without a contextual implication of this kind; in other words, their absent axis cannot be restored with the same ease and, above all, semantic accuracy. We choose to class them as "fixed" one-axis sentences.

By way of example, let us read the following passage from S. Maugham's short story "Appearance and Reality";

Monsieur Le Sueur was a man of action. He went straight up to Lisette and smacked her hard on her right cheek with his left hand and then smacked her hard on the left cheek with his right hand. "Brute," screamed Lisette.

The one-axis sentence used by the heroine does imply the you-subject and can, by association, be expanded into the two-axis one "You are a brute" or "You brute", but then the spontaneous "scream-style" of the utterance in the context (a cry of indignation and revolt) will be utterly distorted.

Among the fixed one-axis sentences quite a few subclasses are to be recognised, including nominative (nominal) constructions, greeting formulas, introduction formulas, incentives, excuses, etc.



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