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Lecture 13. The Composite Sentences

The modern approach to the composite is that it is a syntactic unit with more than one subject-predicate-groups/clusters, by which we mean predicative relations. Earlier grammarians in their prescriptive grammars didn't pay much attention to a sentence in their syntactic parts, they mostly described word-groups and didn't consider a sentence as a unit. The first to introduce the idea of tire sentence as a unit (the concept of the sentence) was Brightland (18th century). He defined the sentence as a unit consisting of one affirmation and a name and he distinguished a simple and a compound sentence: a simple - one name and one affirmation; a compound - more than one name and more than one affirmation.

Later the prescriptive and scientific grammars (the middle of the 19th century) introduced a very important innovation: the subdivision of the compound sentence into compound proper and a complex sentence. The term “composite" was introduced by Poutsma, thus we got the so-called the thrichotomic division of sentences into simple, compound and complex (together - the composite).

One of the usual approaches to a compound sentence is that it is a sentence, whose parts are independent to such an extent that Ch. Freeze thinks a compound sentence is just a matter of intonation and punctuation. He thinks that the difference between a simple sentence and a part of a compound sentence is just punctuational.

There are at least three ways helping to avoid the ambiguity concerning the fact that a compound sentence in fact is a number of sentences:

- some grammarians try to explain it by emphasizing the complete independence of clauses of a compound sentence and the ability of isolating each member of a compound sentence without any change of its meaning or intonation,

- other grammarians just employ new terms to express more exactly the grammatical peculiarity of the combinations of sentences: “double", “multiple" sentences;

- still others exclude the concept of a compound sentence from the structural classification of sentences.

As far as the complex sentence is concerned it is a sentence consisting of at least two parts: the main clause, which is more independent, and a subordinate clause, which depends on the main clause. But in some cases it's difficult to see which of the two is more dependent on the other. So a complex sentence is a sentence in which one or more members of the sentence are expressed by subject-predicate groups/clusters, the parts of the complex sentence are interdependent both semantically and grammatically.

What you say, must be true. - mutually dependent.

I say, you 're absolutely right. - the subordinate is more independent of the two. As far as the subordinate clauses there are two approaches to their classification. The first is based on the syntactic function of the clause. According to it the subordinates may be subject, object, predicative, attributive, adverbial (all of them are clauses). The second is based on the part of speech which the clauses represent or whose function they perform (in Curme’s grammar). Here we find:

- substantive clauses (subject, predicate, object);

- adjective clauses (attributive);

- adverbial clauses (adverbial);

It should be mentioned that English is rich in constructions built up around a certain non-finite form. Some grammarians consider them clauses too. Bryant names them verbids — verbid clauses


Modality is one of the two ingredient parts of predication, the other being temporality. Modality and temporality are the two ingredient parts of predication.

Modality is the speaker’s attitude towards what he is speaking about. In the wide sense of the word it is any attitude - in this meaning it is normally used in literal criticism meaning the emotional key-note. According to the narrower approach modality as the speaker’s attitude from the point of view of the reality of the action - the degree of reality of the action. In the later approach two spheres of modality are to be distinguished:

- modality of reality/unreality proper which is usually marked by the category of mood - the morphological way of expressing modality;

- modality of necessity, probability, which is usually expressed by means modal verbs, words and expressions.

Modality always carries some elements of subjectivity which is clear from the very definition, but considering the two spheres we see, 1st sphere is more objective and the 2nd is more subjective.

Modality can be expressed at all the lingual levels:

- phonetically (intonation, emphatic stresses);

- lexically (modal verbs, phrases, words);

- grammatically (morphologically - morphologically modality is marked by the


- syntactically it can be expressed by certain syntactic structures which are not special ways of expressing modality but which may acquire some special modal change: tags, pseudo-questions and pseudo-subordinate clauses (And he is a scoundrel, that brother of yours. You ’re ready, aren't you? (in both cases - the modality of reality and assurance)). By pseudo-questions we mean sentences which are constructed like questions, but which are not questions but assertions: Do you Jcnow him? - Do I know him! (Мне ли его не гнать!) By pseudo-subordinate clauses we mean constructions, which look like subordinate clauses, which are introduced by certain subordinate conjunctions, but which are also complete assertions: As if you have never heard of it! - Как будто ты не знаешь об этом! All these structures are expressively charged and they all carry the subjective modality of assurance and the objective modality of reality.


1 Classify these adverbial clauses according to their semantics:

a) Bessie sometimes narrated on winter evenings, when she chanced to be in good humour.

b) Mr. Miles affirmed that he would do very well if he had fewer cakes and sweetmeats sent him from home...

c) ...I went to the window-seal to put in order some picture-books and doll’s- house furniture scattered there...

d) There were moments when I was bewildered by the terror he inspired, because I had no appeal whatever against either his menaces or his inflictions.

e) My racked nerves were now in such a state that no calm could soothe, and no pleasure excite them agreeably.

f) She never saw him strike or abuse me, though he did both now and then in her presence.

g) ... Bums immediately left the class, and going into the small inner room where the books were kept, returned in half a minute...

h) ... she took her hands out of my arm, and gazed at me as if she really did not know whether I were child or fiend.

2. According to the syntactic forms the adverbial clauses present, they can be classified into five groups: finite, ed-clauses, ing-claitses, to-clauses, verbless clauses. Use this criterion to classify the following sentences:

a) ...till emerging from the total and somewhat dreary silence pervading that portion of the house we had traversed, we came upon the hum of many voices...

b) When. I dared move, I got up and went to see.

c) After tea. I asked leave of the new superintendent to go to Lowton...

d) ... a testimonial of character and capacity, signed by fire inspectors of that institutions, should forth-with be furnished me.

e) ... I was tugging at tire sash to put out the crumbs on the window-sill...

3. Give your own examples illustrating modality at the phonological, lexical, grammatical and syntactical levels.

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