Курсовая работа : Types of sentences 

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Types of sentences

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1. The Sentence

2. Classification of Sentences

3. The Simple Sentence and Its Types

4. One Member Sentences

5. The Composite Sentence

6. Compound Sentence

7. Complex Sentence




The theme of my course paper sounds as following: «Types of Sentences». Before beginning of investigation in our theme, I would like to say some words dealt with the theme of my course paper.

The problem of classification of sentences is a highly complicated one, and this classification we must begin by comparing a few sentences differing from each other in some respect. Take, for example, the following two sentences:

(1) But why did you leave England? (GALSWORTHY)

(2) There is to-day more people writing extremely well, in all departments of life, than ever before; what we have to do is to sharpen our judgement and pick these out from the still larger number who write extremely badly. (CRUMP)

Everyone will see that the two sentences are basically different. This is true, but very general and not grammatically exact. In order to arrive at a strictly grammatical statement of the difference (or differences) between them we must apply more exact methods of observation and analysis.

Standing on such ground, I would like to point out tasks and aims of my work

1. The first task of my work is to give definition to term «sentence».

2. The second task is to give the classification of sentences in English.

3. The last task of my work is to characterize each type of sentences from grammatical point of view.

In our opinion the practical significance of our work is hard to be overvalued. This work reflects modern trends in linguistics and we hope it would serve as a good manual for those who want to master modern English language. Also this work can be used by teachers of English language for teaching English grammar.

The present work might find a good way of implying in the following spheres:

1. In High Schools and scientific circles of linguistic kind it can be successfully used by teachers and philologists as modern material for writing research works dealing with English verbs.

2. It can be used by teachers of schools, lyceums and colleges by teachers of English as a practical manual for teaching English grammar.

3. It can be useful for everyone who wants to enlarge his/her knowledge in English.

After having proved the actuality of our work, I would like to describe the composition of it:

My work consists of four parts: introduction, the main part, conclusion and bibliography. Within the introduction part we gave the brief description of our course paper. The main part of the work includes several items. There we discussed such problems as the types of sentences in English, their classification, and etc. In the conclusion to our work we tried to draw some results from the scientific investigations made within the present course paper. In bibliography part we mentioned some sources which were used while compiling the present work. It includes linguistic books and articles dealing with the theme, a number of used dictionaries and encyclopedias and also some internet sources.

1. The Sentence

The notion of sentence has not so far received a satisfactory definition, which would enable us by applying it in every particular case to find out whether a certain linguistic unit was a sentence or not.

Thus, for example, the question remains undecided whether such shop notices as Book Shop and such book titles as English are sentences or not. In favour of the view that they are sentences the following consideration can be brought forward. The notice Book Shop and the title English Grammar mean 'This is a book shop', 'This is an English Grammar'; the phrase is interpreted as the predicative of a sentence whose subject and link verb have been omitted, that is, it is apprehended as a unit of communication. According to the other possible view, such notices as Book Shop and such titles as English Grammar are not units of communication at all, but units of nomination, merely appended to the object they denote. Since there is as yet no definition of a sentence which would enable us to decide this question, it depends on everyone's subjective view which alternative he prefers. We will prefer the view that such notices and book titles are not sentences but rather nomination units.

We also mention here a special case. Some novels have titles formulated as sentences, e. g. The Stars Look Down, by A. Cronin, or They Came to a City, by J.B. Priestley. These are certainly sentences, but they are used as nomination units, for instance, Have you read The Stars Look Down? Do you like They Came to a City?

With the rise of modern ideas of paradigmatic syntax yet another problem concerning definition of sentence has to be considered.

In paradigmatic syntax, such units as He has arrived, He has not arrived, Has he arrived, He will arrive, He will not arrive, Will he arrive, etc., are treated as different forms of the same sentence, just as arrives, has arrived, will arrive etc., are different forms of the same verb. We may call this view of the sentence the paradigmatic view.

Now from the point of view of communication, He has arrived and He has not arrived are different sentences since they convey different information (indeed, the meaning of the one flatly contradicts that of the other).

2. Classification of Sentences

The problem of classification of sentences is a highly complicated one, and we will first consider the question of the principles of classification, and of the notions on which it can be based.

Let us begin by comparing a few sentences differing from each other in some respect. Take, for example, the following two sentences:

(1) But why did you leave England? (GALSWORTHY)

(2) There is to-day more people writing extremely well, in all departments of life, than ever before; what we have to do is to sharpen our judgement and pick these out from the still larger number who write extremely badly. (CRUMP)

Everyone will see that the two sentences are basically different. This is true, but very general and not grammatically exact. In order to arrive at a strictly grammatical statement of the difference (or differences) between them we must apply more exact methods of observation and analysis.

Let us, then, proceed to a careful observation of the features which constitute the difference between the two sentences.

1. The first sentence expresses a question that is the speaker expects an answer which will supply the information he wants. The second sentence expresses a statement, that is, the author (or speaker) states his opinion on a certain subject. He does not ask about anything, or expect anybody to supply him any information. This difference is expressed in writing by the first sentence having a question mark at the end, while the second sentence has a full stop.

2. The first sentence is addressed to a certain hearer (or a few hearers present), and is meant to provoke the hearer's reaction (answer). The second sentence is not addressed to any particular person or persons and the author does not know how anybody will react to it.

3. The two sentences differ greatly in length: the first consists of only 6 words, while the second has 39.

4. The first sentence has no punctuation marks within it, while the second has two commas and a semicolon.

5. The first sentence has only one finite verb (did… leave), while the second has three (are, have, write).

These would seem to be some essential points of difference. We have riot yet found out which of them are really relevant from a grammatical viewpoint. We have not included in the above list those which are quite obviously irrelevant from that viewpoint; for example, the first sentence contains a proper name (England), while the second does not contain any, or, the second sentence contains a possessive pronoun (our) while the first does not, etc.

Let us now consider each of the five points of difference and see which of them are relevant from a purely grammatical point of view, for a classification of sentences.

Point 1 states a difference in the types of thought expressed in the two sentences. Without going into details of logical analysis, we can merely say that a question (as in the first sentence), and a proposition (as in the second) are different types of thought, in the logical acceptation of that term. The problem now is, whether this difference is or is not of any importance from the grammatical viewpoint. In Modern English sentences expressing questions (we will call them, as is usually done, interrogative sentences) have some characteristic grammatical features. These features are, in the first place, a specific word order in most cases (predicate – subject), as against the order subject – predicate in sentences expressing, propositions (declarative sentences). Thus word order may, with some reservations, be considered as a feature distinguishing this particular type of sentence from others. Another grammatical feature characterizing interrogative sentences (again, with some reservations) is the structure of the predicate verb, namely its analytical form «do + infinitive» (in our first sentence, did, leave…, not left), where in a declarative sentence there would be the simple form (without do). However, this feature is not restricted to interrogative sentences: as is well known, it also characterizes negative sentences. Anyhow, we can (always with some reservations) assume that word order and the form «do + infinitive» are grammatical features characterizing interrogative sentences, and in so far the first item of our list appears to be grammatically relevant. We will, accordingly, accept the types «interrogative sentence» and «declarative sentence» as grammatical types of sentences.

Point 2, treating of a difference between a sentence addressed to a definite hearer (or reader) and a sentence free from such limitation, appears not to be grammatical, important as it may be from other points of view. Accordingly, we will not include this distinction among grammatical features of sentences.

Point 3, showing a difference in the length of the sentences, namely in the number of words making up each of them, does not in itself constitute a grammatical feature, though it may be more remotely connected with grammatical distinctions.

Point 4 bears a close relation to grammatical peculiarities; more especially, a semicolon would be hardly possible in certain types of sentences (so-called simple sentences). But punctuation marks within a sentence are not in themselves grammatical features: they are rather a consequence of grammatical features whose essence is to be looked for elsewhere.

Point 5, on the contrary, is very important from a grammatical viewpoint. Indeed the number of finite verbs in a sentence is one of its main grammatical features. In this particular instance it should be noted that each of the three finite verbs has its own noun or pronoun belonging to it and expressing the doer of the action denoted by the verb: are has the noun people, have the pronoun we, and write the pronoun who. These are sure signs of the sentence being composite, not simple. Thus we will adopt the distinction between simple and composite sentences as a distinction between two grammatical types.

The items we have established as a result of comparing the two sentences given earlier certainly do not exhaust all the possible grammatical features a sentence can be shown to possess. They were only meant to illustrate the method to be applied if a reasonable grammatical classification of sentences is to be achieved. If we were to take another pair or other pairs of sentences and proceed to compare them in a similar way we should arrive at some more grammatical distinctions which have to be taken into account in making up a classification. We will not give any more examples but we will take up the grammatical classification of sentences in a systematic way.

It is evident that there are two principles of classification. Applying one of them, we obtain a classification into declarative, interrogative, and imperative sentences. We can call this principle that of «types of communication».

The other classification is according to structure. Here we state two main types: simple sentences and composite sentences. We will not now go into the question of a further subdivision of composite sentences, or into the question of possible intermediate types between simple and composite ones. These questions will be treated later on (see pages 200 and 254 respectively). Meanwhile, then, we get the following results:

Types of Sentences According to Types of Communication

(1) Declarative

(2) Interrogative

(3) Imperative

Sentences belonging to the several types differ from each other in some grammatical points, too. Thus, interrogative sentences are characterized by a special word order. In interrogative sentences very few modal words are used, as the meanings of some modal words are incompatible with the meaning of an interrogative sentence. It is clear that modal words expressing full certainty, such as certainly, surely, naturally, etc., cannot appear in a sentence expressing a question. On the other hand, the modal word indeed, with its peculiar shades of meaning, is quite possible in interrogative sentences, for instance, Isn't so indeed? (SHAKESPEARE)

There are also sentences which might be termed semi-interrogative. The third sentence in the following passage belongs to this type:

«Well, I daresay that's more revealing about poor George than you. At any rate, he seems to have survived it». «Oh, you’ve seen him»? She did not particularly mark her question for an answer, but it was, after all, the pivot-point, and Bone found himself replying – that indeed he had. (BUECHNER) The sentence Oh, you’ve seen him? is half-way between the affirmative declarative sentence, You have seen him, and the interrogative sentence, Have you seen him? Let us proceed to find out the precise characteristics of the sentence in the text as against the two sentences just given for the sake of comparison. From the syntactical viewpoint, the sentence is declarative, as the mutual position of subject and predicate is, you have seen, not have you seen, which would be the interrogative order. In what way or ways does it, then, differ from a usual declarative sentence? That is where the question of the intonation comes in. Whether the question mark at the end of the sentence does or does not mean that the intonation is not that typical of a declarative sentence, is hard to tell, though it would rather seem that it does. To be certain about this a phonetic experiment should be undertaken, but in this particular case the author gives a context which itself goes some way toward settling the question. The author's words, She did not particularly mark tier question for an answer, seem to refer to the intonation with which it was pronounced: the intonation must not have been clearly interrogative, that is not clearly rising, though it must have differed from the regular falling intonation to some extent: if it had not been at all different, the sentence could not have been termed a «question», and the author does call it a question. Reacting to this semi-interrogative intonation, Bone (the man to whom the question was addressed) answered in the affirmative. It seems the best way, on the whole, to term such sentences semi-interrogative. Their purpose of course is to utter a somewhat hesitating statement and to expect the other person to confirm it.

Imperative sentences also show marked peculiarities in the use of modal words. It is quite evident, for example, that modal words expressing possibility, such as perhaps, maybe, possibly, are incompatible with the notion of order or request. Indeed, modal words are hardly used at all in imperative sentences.

The notion of exclamatory sentences and their relation to the three established types of declarative, interrogative, and imperative sentences presents some difficulty. It would seem that the best way to deal with it is this. On the one hand, every sentence, whether narrative, interrogative, or imperative, may be exclamatory at the same time, that is, it may convey the speaker's feelings and be characterized by emphatic intonation and by an exclamation mark in writing. This may be seen in the following examples: But he can't do anything to you! (R. WEST) What can he possibly do to you! (Idem) Scarlett, spare me! (M. MITCHELL)

On the other hand, a sentence may be purely exclamatory, that is, it may not belong to any of the three types classed above. This would be the case in the following examples: «Well, fiddle-dee-dee!» said Scarlett. (M. MITCHELL) Oh, for God's sake, Henry! (Idem)

However, it would perhaps be better to use different terms for sentences which are purely exclamatory, and thus constitute a special type, and those which add an emotional element to their basic quality, which is either declarative, or interrogative, or imperative. If this view is endorsed, we should have our classification of sentences according to type of communication thus modified:

(1) Declarative (including emotional ones)

(2) Interrogative (including emotional ones)

(3) Imperative (including emotional ones)

(4) Exclamatory

This view would avoid the awkward contradiction of exclamatory sentences constituting a special type and belonging to the first three types at the same time.

Types of Sentences According to Structure

(1) Simple

(2) Composite

The relations between the two classifications should now be considered.

It is plain that a simple sentence can be either declarative, or interrogative, or imperative. But things are somewhat more complicated with reference to composite sentences. If both (or all) clauses making up a composite sentence are declarative, the composite sentence as a whole is of course declarative too. And so it is bound to be in every case when both (or all) clauses making a composite sentence belong to the same type of communication (that is the case in an overwhelming majority of examples). Sometimes, however, composite sentences are found which consist of clauses belonging to different types of communication. Here it will sometimes he impossible to say to what type of communication the composite sentence as a whole belongs. We will take up this question when we come to the composite sentence.

Some other questions connected with the mutual relation of the two classifications will be considered as we proceed.

3. The simple sentence and its types

We will now study the structure of the simple sentence and the types of simple sentences.

First of all we shall have to deal with the problem of negative sentences. The problem, briefly stated, is this: do negative sentences constitute a special grammatical type, and if so, what are its grammatical features? In other words, if we say, «This is a negative sentence», do we thereby give it a grammatical description?

The difficulty of the problem lies in the peculiarity of negative expressions in Modern English. Let us take two sentences, both negative in meaning: (1) She did not know when she would be seeing any of them again. (R. MACAULAY) (2) Helen's tremendous spell – perhaps no one ever quite escaped from it. (Idem) They are obviously different in their ways of expressing negation. In (1) we see a special form of the predicate verb (did… know, not knew) which is due to the negative character of the sentence and is in so far a grammatical sign of its being negative. In (2), on the other hand, there is no grammatical feature to show that the sentence is negative. Indeed, there is no grammatical difference whatever between the sentences Nobody saw him and Everybody saw him. The difference lies entirely in the meaning of the pronouns functioning as subject, that is to say, it is lexical, not grammatical. The same is of course true of such sentences as / found nobody and / found everybody. On the other hand, in the sentence / did not find anybody there is again a grammatical feature, viz. the form of the predicate verb (did… find, not found).

The conclusion to be drawn from these observations is obviously this. Since in a number of cases negative sentences are not characterized as such by any grammatical peculiarities, they are not a grammatical type. They are a logical type, which may or may not be reflected in grammatical structure. Accordingly, the division' of sentences into affirmative and negative ought not to be included into their grammatical classification.

Before we proceed with our study of sentence structure it will be well to consider the relation between the two notions of sentence and clause. Among different types of sentences treated In a syntactic investigation it is naturally the simple sentence that comes first. It is with specimens of simple sentences that we study such categories as parts of the sentence, main and secondary; homogeneous members, word order, etc. It is also with specimens of simple sentences that we illustrate such notions as declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences, as two-member and one-member sentences, and so forth. As long as we limit ourselves to the study of simple sentences, the notion of «clause» need not occur at all.

When, however, we come to composite sentences (that is, sentences consisting of two or more clauses), we have to deal with the notions of main clause, head clause, and subordinate clause. Everything we said about the simple sentence will also hold good for clauses: a clause also has its parts (main and secondary), it can also be a two-member or a one-member clause; a main clause at least must also be either declarative, interrogative, imperative, or exclamatory, etc. We will consider these questions in due course.

So then we will take it for granted that whatever is said about a simple sentence will also apply to an independent clause within a composite sentence. For instance, whatever we say about word order in a simple sentence will also apply to word order in an independent clause within a composite sentence, etc.

It has been usual for some time now to classify sentences into two-member and one-member sentences.

This distinction is based on a difference in the so-called main parts of a sentence. We shall therefore have to consider the two problems, that of two-member and one-member sentences and that of main parts of the sentence, simultaneously.

In a sentence like Helen sighed (R. MACAULAY) there obviously are two main parts: Helen, which denotes the doer of the action and is called (grammatical) subject, and sighed, which denotes the action performed by the subject and is called (grammatical) predicate. Sentences having this basic structure, viz. a word (or phrase) to denote the doer of the action and another word (or phrase) to denote the action, are termed two-member sentences. However, there are sentences which do not contain two such separate parts; in these sentences there is only one main part: the other main part is not there and it could not even be supplied, at least not without a violent change in the structure of the sentence. Examples of such sentences, which are accordingly termed one-member sentences, are the following: Fire! Come on! or the opening sentence of «An American Tragedy»: Dusk – of a summer night. (DREISER)

There is no separate main part of the sentence, the grammatical subject, and no other separate main part, the grammatical predicate. Instead there is only one main part (fire, come on, and dusk, respectively). These, then, are one-member sentences.

It is a disputed point whether the main part of such a sentence should, or should not, be termed subject in some cases, and predicate, in others. This question has been raised with reference to the Russian language. Academician A. Shakhmatov held that the chief part of a one-member sentence was either the subject, or the predicate, as the case might be (for example, if that part was a finite verb, he termed it predicate). Academician V. Vinogradov, on the other hand, started on the assumption that grammatical subject and grammatical predicate were correlative notions and that the terms were meaningless outside their relation to each other. Accordingly, he suggested that for one-member sentences, the term «main part» should be used, without giving it any more specific name. Maybe this is rather a point of terminology than of actual grammatical theory. We will not investigate it any further, but content ourselves with naming the part in question the main part of one-member sentence, as proposed by V. Vinogradov.

One-member sentences should be kept apart from two-member sentences with either the subject or the predicate omitted, i.e. from elliptical sentences, which we will discuss in a following chapter. There are many difficulties in this field. As we have done more than once, we will carefully distinguish what has been proved and what remains a matter of opinion, depending to a great extent on the subjective views or inclinations of one scholar or another. Matters belonging to this latter category are numerous enough in the sphere of sentence study.

4. One member sentences

We have agreed, to term one-member sentences those sentences which have no separate subject and predicate but one main part only instead (see p. 190).

Among these there is the type of sentence whose main part is a noun (or a substantives part of speech), the meaning of the sentence being that the thing denoted by the noun exists in a certain place or at a certain time. Such sentences are frequent, for example, in stage directions of plays. A few examples from modern authors will suffice: Night. A lady's bed-chamber In Bulgaria, in a small town near the Dragoman Pass, late in November in the year 1885. (SHAW) The sixth of March, 1886. (Idem) The landing dock of the Cunard Line. (FITCH) Living room in the house of Philip Phillimore. (L. MITCHELL)

Compare also the following passage from a modern novel: No birds singing in the dawn. A light wind making the palm trees sway their necks, with a faint dry formal clicking. ^The wonderful hushing of rain on Mareotis. (DURRELL) Such sentences bear a strong resemblance to two-member sentences having a present participle for their predicate, which we have considered on p. 202 ff. It is the context that will show to which of the two types the sentence belongs. In some cases the difference between them may be vague or even completely neutralized.

There are some more types of one-member clauses and sentences. Let us consider a few examples of the less common varieties. And what if he had seen them embracing in the moonlight? (HUXLEY) The main clause, if it is to be taken separately, contains only the words and what…? It is clear, however, that the sentence And what?, if at all possible, would have a meaning entirely different from that of the sentence as it stands in Huxley's text. Be that as it may, the clause and what is clearly a one-member clause.

A different kind of one-member clause is seen in the following compound sentence: A good leap, and perhaps one might clear the narrow terrace and so crash down yet another thirty feet to the sunbaked ground below. (HUXLEY) The first clause in its conciseness is very effective. These are the thoughts of a young man standing on a hill and looking down a steep ravine. The meaning is of course equivalent to that of a sentence like It would be enough to make a good leap, etc. But the first clause as it stands in the text is certainly a one-member clause, as every addition to it would entirely change its structure.

A special semantic type of one-member clauses is characterized by the following structure: «predicative + adjective expressing emotional assessment + noun or clause expressing what is assessed by the adjective», for instance, Strange how different she had become – a strange new quiescence. (LAWRENCE) The main clause might of course have been a two-member one: It was strange how different she had become… but this variant would be stylistically very different from the original. It is also evident that this type of sentence is limited to a very small number of adjective predicative's.

Imperative sentences with no subject of the action mentioned are also to be classed among one-member sentences, e.g. Get away from me! (M. MITCHELL) Fear not, fair lady! (Idem) «Don't tell him anything» she cried rapidly. (Idem)

It would not, however, be correct to say that imperative sentences must necessarily have this structure. Occasionally, in emotional speech, they may have a subject, that is, they belong to the two-member type, as in the following instance: Don't you dare touch me! (Idem)


By «elliptical sentences» we mean sentences with one or more of their parts left out, which can be unambiguously inferred from the context. We will apply this term to any sentence of this kind, no matter what part or parts of it have been left out.

The main sphere of elliptical sentences is of course dialogue: it is here that one or more parts of a sentence are left out because they are either to be supplied from the preceding sentence (belong-, in to another speaker) or may be easily dispensed with. We take a few examples of elliptical sentences from contemporary dramatic works: Charlie. Have you asked her yet? Captain Jinks. Not often enough. (FITCH) It is clear here that the answer means: 'I have, but not often enough'. Aurelia. And by the way, before I forget it, I hope you'll come to supper to-night – here. Will you? After the opera. Captain Jinks. Delighted! (Idem) It is also clear here that Aurelia's second sentence means: 'Will you come to supper to-night?' and that the captain's answer means: 'I shall be delighted to come'. Whatever is understood from the preceding context is omitted, and only the words containing the theme are actually pronounced. The same is found, for example, in the following bit of dialogue: Matthew. Why, my dear – you have a very sad expression! Cynthia. Why not? Matthew. J feel as if I we're of no use in the world when 1 see sadness on a young face. Only sinners should feel sad. You have committed no sin! Cynthia. Yes, I have! (L. MITCHELL) Cynthia's first sentence obviously means: 'Why should I not have a sad expression?' and her second, 'Yes, I have committed a sin!' Similarly, in other cases everything but the words representing the theme may be omitted.

Elliptical sentences or clauses can of course also occur outside dialogue.'

5. The Composite Sentence.

At the beginning of our work we commented briefly on the problem of classifying composite sentences. We will adopt as a first principle of classification the way in which the parts of a composite sentence (its clauses) are joined together. This may be achieved either by means of special words designed for this function, or without the help of such words. In the first case, the method of joining the clauses is synthetic, and the composite sentence itself may be called synthetic. In the second case the method of joining the clauses is asyndetic, and so is the composite sentence itself.

We should distinguish between two variants of synthetic joining of sentences, the difference depending on the character and syntactic function of the word used to join them.

This joining word (let us call it this for the time being) may either be a conjunction, a pronoun or an adverb. If it is a conjunction, it has no other function in the sentence but that of joining the clauses together.

If it is a pronoun or an adverb (i. e. a relative pronoun or a relative adverb), its function in the sentence is twofold: on the one hand, it is a part of one of the two clauses which are joined (a subject, object, adverbial modifier, etc.), and on the other hand, it serves to join the two sentences together, that is, it has a connecting function as well.

It is to synthetic composite sentences that the usual classification into compound and complex sentences should be applied in the first place.

These are the lines indicated for the Russian language by Prof. N. Pospelov in 1950. ' The question of classifying asyndetic composite sentences will have to be considered separately (see below, Chapter XL).

We start, then, from a distinction of compound sentences and complex sentences. The basic difference between the two types would appear to be clear enough: in compound sentences, the clauses of which they consist have as it were equal rights, that is, none of them is below the other in rank, they are coordinated.

In complex sentences, on the other hand, the clauses are not on an equal footing. In the simplest case, that of a complex sentence consisting of two clauses only, one of these is the main clause, and the other a subordinate clause, that is, it stands beneath the main clause in rank. Of course, there may be more than one main clause and more than one subordinate clause in a complex sentence.

So far the classification of syndetic composite sentences looks simple enough. But as we come to the problem of the external signs showing whether a clause is co-ordinated with another or subordinated to it, we often run into difficulties. As often as not a clear and unmistakable sign pointing this way or that is wanting. In such cases we have to choose between two possible ways of dealing with the problem. Either we shall have to answer the question in an arbitrary way, relying, that is, on signs that are not binding and may be denied; or else we shall have to establish a third, or inter-* mediate, group, which cannot be termed either clear co-ordination or clear subordination, but is something between the two, or something indefinite from this point of view. It is also evident that the problem is connected with that of coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.

6. Compound Sentence

When discussing simple sentences we had to deal with communication types: declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences.

With compound sentences this problem requires special treatment. If both (or all) clauses making up a compound sentence belong to the same communication type it is clear that the compound sentence belongs to this type, too. But there are also compound sentences consisting of clauses belonging to different communication types. In that case it is impossible to state to what type the compound sentence as a whole belongs. Let us consider a few instances of this kind.

There are sentences in which one clause is declarative and the other exclamatory, as in the following example: After all, she concluded, a monkey is a ridiculous animal, and how clever of Tristram to recognize the need for just such a ridiculousness among all his dinner parties… (BUECHNER) Such examples, however, appear to be rare. The following sentence had best be considered a compound sentence, with the first clause declarative, and the second elliptical and interrogative: These came nearer than most to meaning something to her, but what? (BUECHNER) The second clause, if completed, would apparently run something like this: but what did they mean? or, what could they mean?

This absence of a unified communication type in some compound sentences has given rise to doubts whether what we call a compound sentence can be called a sentence at all. The solution of the problem-will of course depend on what we consider to be the necessary features of a sentence. If we accept unity of communication type as one of them, formations lacking this feature will have to be excluded. This view would then make it necessary to develop a theory of units other than a sentence stretching between a full stop and another full stop, or a question mark, or an exclamation mark. We will not pursue this analysis any further but we will take the view that unity of communication type is not an indispensable feature, and go on recognizing compound sentences as a special sentence type.

Compound sentences consist of clauses joined together by coordinating conjunctions. These are very few: and, bat, or, for, yet, so (compare the chapter on conjunctions, p. 158). Concerning some of them there may be doubts whether they are conjunctions (thus, yet may also be supposed to be an adverb), and concerning the word for it may be doubtful whether it is coordinating or subordinating. The meanings of the conjunctions themselves are of course a question of lexicology. What concerns us here is the type of connection between the clauses in a compound sentence.

There has been some discussion about the degree of independence of the clauses making up a compound sentence. The older view was that they were completely independent of each other. It was supposed that these clauses were nothing but independent sentences with a coordinating conjunction between them indicating their semantic relations. Lately, however, the opinion has been expressed that the independence of the clauses, and especially of the second clause (and those which follow it, if any) is not complete, and that the structure of the second and following clauses is to some extent predetermined by the first. This view was put forward in the Academy's Grammar of the Russian language. It is pointed out here that the word order of the second clause may be influenced by the connection it has with the first, and that the verb forms of the predicates in coordinated clauses are frequently mutually dependent. 'Part of this is more significant for the Russian language with its freer word order than for the English, but a certain degree of interdependence between the clauses is found in English, too.

We will now consider some questions of the grammatical structure of compound sentences in English.

The semantic relations between the clauses making up the compound sentence depend partly on the lexical meaning of the conjunction uniting them, and partly on the meanings of the words making up the clauses themselves. It should be noted that the coordinating conjunctions differ from each other in definiteness of meaning: the conjunction ~but has an adversative meaning which is so clear and definite that there can hardly be anything in the sentence to materially alter the meaning conveyed by this conjunction. The meaning of the conjunction and, on the other hand, which is one of «addition», is wide enough to admit of shades being added to it by the meanings of other words in the sentence. This will be quite clear if we compare the following two compound sentences with clauses joined by this conjunction: The old lady had recognized Ellen's handwriting and her fat little mouth was pursed in a frightened way, like a baby who fears a scolding and hopes to ward it off by tears. (M, MITCHELL) The bazaar had taken place Monday night and today was only Thursday. (Idem) The first sentence has a shade of meaning of cause – result, and this is obviously due to the meanings of the words recognized and frightened. In the second sentence there is something like an adversative shade of meaning, and this is due to the relation in meaning between the word Monday in the first clause and that of the words only Thursday in the second. In a similar way other shades of meaning may arise from other semantic relations between words in two co-ordinate clauses.

Compound sentences with clauses joined by the conjunction or (or by the double conjunction either – or) seem to be very rare. Here are a few examples: The light fell either upon the smooth grey black of a pebble, or the shell pf a snail with its brown, circular veins, or, falling into a raindrop, it expanded with such intensity of red, blue, and yellow the thin' walls of water that one expected them to burst, and disappear. (V. WOOLF) / think I see them now with sparkling looks; or have they vanished while I have been writing this description of them? (HAZLITT) Are you afraid of their biting, or is it a metaphysical antipathy? (LAWRENCE)

As to the use of tenses in clauses making up a compound sentence, we should note that there is no general rule of their interdependence. However, in a number of cases we do find interdependence of co-ordinate clauses from this point of view. For instance, in the following compound sentence the tense of the first predicate verb is past perfect and that of the second past indefinite: She had come to meet the Marquise de Trayas, but she was half an hour too early. (R. WEST)

The number of clauses in a compound sentence may of course be greater than two, and in that case the conjunctions uniting the clauses may be different; thus, the second clause may be joined to the first by one conjunction, while the third is joined to the second by another, and so forth. We will only give one example: Gerald was disappointed, for he had wanted a son, but he nevertheless was pleased enough over his small black-haired daughter… (M. MITCHELL)

A typical example of a compound sentence with the conjunction so is the following: The band has struck, so we did our best without it (FITCH)

Besides the conjunctions so far considered, there are a few more, which are generally classed as subordinating, but which in certain conditions tend to become coordinating, so that the sentences in which they occur may be considered to be compound rather than complex, or perhaps we might put it differently: the distinction between co-ordination and subordination, and consequently that between compound and complex sentences, is in such cases neutralized. This concerns mainly the conjunction while and the adverbial clauses of time introduced by it, and the conjunction though and the adverbial clauses of concession introduced by it. We will discuss these cases when we come to the respective types of adverbial subordinate clauses.

7. Complex Sentence

There is much more to be said about the complex sentence than about the compound. This is due to several causes, which are, however, connected with one another.

For one thing, the semantic relations who can be expressed by subordination are much more numerous and more varied than with co-ordination: all such relations as time, place, concession, purpose, etc. are expressly stated in complex sentences only.

Then again, the means of expressing subordination are much more numerous. There is here a great variety of conjunctions: when, after, before, while, till, until, though, although, albeit, that, as, because, since; a number of phrases performing the same function: as soon as, as long as, so long as, notwithstanding that, in order that, according as, etc. Besides, a certain number of conjunctive words are used: the relative pronouns who, which, that, whoever, whatever, whichever, and the relative adverbs where, how, whenever, wherever, however, why, etc.

We may note that the boundary line between conjunctions and relative adverbs is not quite clearly drawn. We shall also see this when we come to the adverbial clauses introduced by the word when and those introduced by the word where (see below, p. 286 ff.). Historically speaking, conjunctions develop from adverbs, and one word or another may prove to be in an intermediate stage, when there are no sufficient objective criteria to define its status.


The notions of declarative, interrogative, and imperative sentence, and also that of exclamatory sentence appear to be applicable to some types of complex sentences as well. For instance, if the main clause of a complex sentence is interrogative or imperative, this implies that the complex sentence as a whole is also interrogative or imperative respectively. A few examples will suffice to illustrate our point. Why couldn't she sense now that he was outside and come out? (DREISER) The main clause why couldn't she sense now… and come out? is clearly interrogative», and this is enough to make the whole complex sentence interrogative, though the subordinate clause that he was outside (an object clause) is certainly not interrogative, and should, if anything, be termed declarative. This, it may be noted in passing, is an additional proof that the clause that he was outside is a subordinate clause: its type of communication is irrelevant for the type of communication to which the sentence as a whole belongs, while the type of the clause why couldn't she sense…and come out? Is decisive for it.

The same will be found to be the case in the following example: But who is to guarantee that I get the other sixty-five, and when? (DREISER) This is a slightly more complicated case. The main clause of course is who is to guarantee, and it is interrogative. The subordinate clause is that I get the other sixty-five, and it is followed by the words and when, which will probably be best described as an elliptical second subordinate clause, whose full text would run, and when I shall get it (which is an indirect question). It might also be described as. a detached adverbial modifier added on to the subordinate clause that I shall get the other sixty-five. Be that as it may, the fact remains that the interrogative main clause But who is to guarantee…? Is enough to make the entire sentence interrogative, no matter to what type the subordinate clause or clauses belong.

Now let us take a complex sentence with an imperative main clause: Never you mind how old she is. (SHAW) The main clause never you mind is imperative and that is enough to make the whole sentence imperative as well.

The same may be said about a number of other sentences


In the conclusion of my work, I would like to say some words according the done investigation. The main research was written in the main part of my course paper. So here I’ll give content of it with the description of question discussed in each paragraph.

The main part of my work consists of following items:

  • «The Sentence». Here I gave the definition to the term sentence.

  • «Classification of Sentences», in this paragraph different types of classification of English sentences are done.

  • In the next five paragraphs «The Simple Sentence and Its Types», «The Composite Sentence», «Compound Sentence», and «Complex Sentence» I described types of sentences in English due the classification according sentence structure. In paragraph «One Member Sentences» I gave the definition to the rarely discussed elliptical sentences.

Standing on such ground I will add that investigation in the questions dealt sentences in English and their types is not finished yet, so we will continue it while writing our qualification work.

I hope that my course paper will arise the sincere interest of students and teachers to the problem of adjectives in contemporary English.


  1. B. Ilyish, The Structure of Modern English.

  2. V.N. Zhigadlo, I.P. Ivanova, L.L. Iofik.» Modern English language» (Theoretical course grammar) Moscow, 1956 y.

  3. Gordon E.M. The Use of adjectives in modern English.

  4. М.М. Галииская. «Иностранные языки в высшей школе», вып. 3, М., 1964.

  5. Г.Н. Воронцова. Очерки по грамматике английского языка. М., 1960

  6. O. Jespersen. Essentials of English Grammar. N.Y., 1938

  7. Иванова И.П., Бурлакова В.В., Почепцов Г.Г. Теоретическая грамматика современного английского языка. – М., 1981. – 285 c.

  8. Ch. Barber. Linguistic change in Present-Day English. Edinburgh, 1964

  9. The Structure of American English. New York, 1958.

  10. World Book Encyclopedia Vol. 1 NY. 1993 pp. 298-299

  11. Internet http://madrasati2010.bravehost.com/adj.htm

  12. Internet http://www.vestnik.vsu.ru

  13. Internet:http://www.englishclub.com/grammar/verbs/theory.htm

  14. Inbternet:http://www.englishlanguage.ru/main/verbs_mood.htm

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