Subordinate Clause Types
| Subordinate clauses
may be finite or nonfinite. Within this broad classification, we can make
many further distinctions. We will begin by looking at subordinate clauses
which are distinguished by their formal characteristics.
Many subordinate clauses are named after the form of the verb which they contain:
For convenience, we sometimes name a clause after its first element:
As we'll see on the next page, if-clauses are sometimes called conditional clauses.
The that element is sometimes ellipted:
An important type of subordinate clause is the RELATIVE CLAUSE. Here are some examples:
Relative clauses are generally introduced by a relative pronoun, such as who, or which. However, the relative pronoun may be ellipted:
NOMINAL RELATIVE CLAUSES (or independent relatives) function in some respects like noun phrases:
The similarity with NPs can be further seen in the fact that certain nominal relatives exhibit number contrast:
Notice the agreement here with is (singular) and are (plural).Singular: [What we need] is a plan
Finally, we will mention briefly an unusual type of clause, the verbless or SMALL CLAUSE. While clauses usually contain a verb, which is finite or nonfinite, small clauses lack an overt verb:
We analyse this as a unit because clearly its parts cannot be separated. What Susan found was not the job, but the job very difficult. And we analyse this unit specifically as a clause because we can posit an implicit verb, namely, a form of the verb be:
Here are some more examples of small clauses:
All of the clause types discussed here are distinguished by formal characteristics. On the next page, we will distinguish some more types, this time on the basis of their meaning.
copyright The Survey of English Usage 1996-1998
Supported by RingJohn
Online Marketing UK