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The Principal Parts of the Sentence

In a sentence we distinguish the principal parts, the secondary parts and the independent elements. The principal parts of the sentence are the subject and the predicate.

The subject

The subject is the principal part of a two-member sentence which is grammatically independent of the other parts of the sentence and on which the second principal part (the predicate) is dependent. The subject denotes a living being, a thing or an idea. It can be expressed by:

1) a noun (N) in the common case

· The waiter brought my tea.

Occasionally a N in the possessive case is used as the subject:

· Ada’s is a noble heart.

2) a pronoun – personal, demonstrative, defining, indefinite, negative, possessive, interrogative.

· Everyone was silent for a minute.

· Who tore this book?

The subject is often expressed by the indefinite pronoun one or the personal pronouns they, you, we, which refer not to any particular person or thing but to people in general:

· Life is beastly short. One wants to live forever./…. Хочется жить вечно .

· They say he’s clever./ Говорят , ….

3) A substantivized adjective or participle:

· The wounded were taken good care of.

4) a numeral (cardinal or ordinal):

· The two were quite unable to do anything.

5) an infinitive, an infinitive phrase or construction;

· To live is to work.

6) a gerund, a gerundial phrase or construction:

· Lying doesn’t go well with me.

7) Any part of speech used as quotation:

· On is a preposition.

8) a group of words which is one part of the sentence:

· The needle and thread is lost.

When it is a notional subject the pronoun it has the following meanings:

1) The personal it - It stands for a definite thing or some abstract idea

· The door opened. It was opened by a little girl.

2) the demonstrative it - It points out some person or thing expressed by a predicate, or it refers to the thought contained in the preceding statement

· It is John.

· It was a large room with a great window.

As a formal subject it has the following meanings:

1) the impersonal it is used –

a) to denote natural phenomenon (state of weather, etc.) or that which characterizes the environment:

· It is cold in winter.

The state of weather can be also expressed by meant of there is construction. In such sentences the N introduced by there is is the subject:

· There was a heavy frost last night.

b) to denote time and distance:

· it is 5 minutes past 6.

· It is along way from the station.

2) the introductory/anticipatory it introduces the real subject:

· It ’s no use disguising facts.

3) The emphatic it is used for emphasis:

· It was he who won the race.

26а) The subject. Means of expressing the subject.

The subject is the independent member of a two-member predication, containing the person component of predicativity. The subject is generally defined as a word or a group of words denoting the thing we speak about. The subject of a simple sentence can be a word, a syntactical word-morpheme or a complex. As a word it can belong to different parts of speech, but it is mostly a noun or a pronoun. A word used as a subject combines the lexical meaning with the structural meaning of “person”. So it is at the same time the structural and the notional subject. We may speak of a secondary subject within a complex. The syntactical word-morphemes there and it may also function as secondary subjects (It being cold, we put on our coats. I knew of there being no one to help them). The analysis of sentences like He was seen to enter the house, is a point at issue. Traditionally the infinitive is said to form part of the complex subject (He…to enter). Ilyish maintains that though satisfactory from the logical point of view, this interpretation seems to be artificial grammatically, this splitting of the subject being alien to English. He suggests that only HE should be treated as a subject, whereas was sees to enter represents a peculiar type of compound predicate. Some grammarians (Smirnitsky, Ganshina) speak of definite-personal, indefinite-personal, impersonal sentences, but it is a semantical classification of subjects, not sentences. If we compare the subject in English with that of Russian we shall find a considerable difference between them. In Russian the subject is characterized by a distinct morphological feature – the nominative case, in English it is indicated by the position it occupies in the sentence. In Russian the subject is much less obligatory as a part of the sentence than in English. In English the subject may be a syntactical word-morpheme, a gerund, or a complex, which is alien to Russian.  



The Object

The O. is a part of the complementation of a verb, a verbal or an adjective within verb, verbal (non-finite) or adjective phrases. It refers to a person or thing, or a state of affairs which is affected or produced by, or is related to the action or state expressed by the predicate of a sentence. There may be 2 objects in one simple sentence: Mary sent Jane a letter. The pronoun it can be used as a formal object (expressed by an infinitive or gerundial phrase) extraposed to the end of the sentence: I don’t like it to be treated like this. The O. may be represented by a single word, a phrase, a predicative construction or a subordinate clause.

Parts of speech: a noun, a pronoun, a numeral, a substantivized adjective or participle (the wounded), an infinitive, a gerund, a predicative construction (non-finite clauses) – They insisted on my answering him, a quotation – She exclaimed “My God”. In a complex sentence, a subordinate clause may serve as an O. to a verb in the main clause – I didn’t know where they lived.

Kinds of O:

1. The direct O. is used after transitive verbs and denotes a person or a thing wholly involved and/or directly affected by the action of a transitive verb: She saw me and smiled. The d.O. may complement monotransitive phrasal verb with the adverb preceding or following it: Ray gave up his work. Come on, I’ll show you around.

2. The indirect O. is the first complement of the distransitive verb. The second noun phrase complementing the verb functions as direct object: Give me a chance! Sometimes the i.O. is used alone to complement the verb: Shall I tell hem? The i.O. is related to a prepositional phrase introduced by to, for, of: He bought a dress for her.

3. The prepositional O. is a nominal phrase introduced by a preposition which serves as part of the complementation of the prepositional verb or an adjective with a “fixed” preposition: The value of liberty depends on other values. Ditransitive prepositional verbs are complemented by a direct object and by a prepositional phrase, which follows it: She blamed herself for saying it.


The Attribute

The A. is a secondary part of the sentence which constitutes part of a noun phrase, modifies its head and denotes a quality of a person or a thing. It may be represented by a single word, a phrase, or a subordinate clause; it may precede or follow the word it modifies.

Parts of speech: an adjective, a pronoun (my, these), a numeral, a noun, a participle – a sleeping baby, a gerund – sleeping tablets, an infinitive – a book for you to read, an adverb – the room above, prepositional phrases – jokes of your brother’s. Attributive clauses used as postmodifiers transform the whole sentence into a complex one: I’ll never forget the day when we first met.


28а) The Attribute

  Attribute is a dependent element of a nominative phrase that denotes an

attributive quality of an object expressed by a noun. It is a secondary part of the

sentence modifying a part of the sentence expressed by a noun, a substantival

pronoun, a cardinal numeral, and any substantivised word, and characterizing the

thing named by these words as to its quality or property.

  According to the position relative to the head word, attributes can be

prepositive and postpositive. The position of an attribute with respect to its head

word depends partly on the morphological peculiarities of the attribute itself, and

partly on stylistic factors.

  Apposition has been often regarded as a special kind of attribute, and

sometimes as a secondary part of a sentence distinct from an attribute. Apposition

is a word or phrase referring to a part of the sentence expressed by a noun, and

explaining and specifying its meaning by giving it another name. Appositions are

usually expressed by nouns.


The Adverbial modifier

The A.m. is a secondary part of the sentence which modifies a verb, an adjective or an adverb. A.m. denote the time, place, cause and manner of the action or process expressed by the verb. When modifying an adjective, the A.m. characterizes quality or quantity of a state denoted by the adjective. The A.m. may be expressed by a single word (an adverb), a phrase consisting of two or more words (prep.phrase), or a clause (modifies the whole clause it relates to, characterizing the latter denotes – He was ten when I saw him first.)

A.m.can be placed at the beginning, in the middle or, most typically, at the end of the sentence. Adverbials denoting indefinite time (usually, never, recently) and degree (almost, completely, only) – a medial position. They follow (modal) auxiliaries or the first of two auxiliaries in any complex verb group: No one could quite understand it. Interrogative sentences – after the subject: What have you finally decided? Modal words (Perhaps,etc) – at the beginning or in the middle. Enough – after the word it modifies. When more that one adverbial comes in the sentence, first – an A.m. of place and time.

Semantic types of AM

1. The A.m. of place and direction may be expressed by a prep.phrase, an adverb, an adverbial phrase or a clause.

2. The A.m. of time may be expressed by a noun (tomorrow), a prep.phrase (before the war), a partII preceded by when/while (When refused…), a participle or a part.phrase (Take care crossing the street), a gerund with a prep. or a ger.phrase and clauses of place (You won’t recognize the house when you come next time)

3. The A.m. of condition is expressed by a noun or a pronoun preceded by the prepositions and conjunctions but for, except for, in case, by a participle or an adjective with the conjunctions if, unless(if necessary,…), by a gerundial phrase introduced by the prep. without, by an adv.clause of condition.

4. The A.m. of concession is introduced by the preps despite, for all, in spite of, with all and the conjunction though.

5. The A.m.of cause (reason) may be expressed by a prep.phrase: He couldn’t speak for tears. Because of, due to, on account of, owing to, thanks to…, by a clause or by a participial phrase: Wishing to say sth he jumped from the chair.

6. The A.m. of purpose is rendered by a single infinitive, an inf.phrase (He stood up to say goodbye), an inf.construction, a nominal or ger,phrase with the prep. for (They came for lunch. He did it for making me angry) or a clause of purpose.

7. The A.m. of result (consequence) is expressed by an infinitive, an inf.phrase or an inf.construction which refers to an adjective or an adverb preceded by such adverbs of degree as too, enough (You are clever enough not to do it), or the conjunction  so…as (She is not so foolish as to do anything wrong).

8. The A.m. of manner is expressed by adverbs or prep.phrases introduced by the preps by, by means of, with, without or with the help of. + part.phrases (She ran fast, without looking back), absolute constructions (She entered, her eyes sad) and clauses.

9. The A.m. of attendant circumstances is rendered by a participial (He was sitting smoking cigarettes), gerundial (She entered without looking at him) or infinitive phrase or by an absolute construction (I hurried away, her pale face still in my eyes). Don’t confuse №8, since №9 denotes an action or a state which is relatively independent of the action of the main verb. When expressed by an infinitive phrase, the modifier denotes an action which is neither the result nor the purpose of the action denoted by the main verb. (He opened the door to see that all had gone – Он открыл дверь и увидел, что все ушли.)

10. The A.m. of degree and measure is expressed by an adverb or a prep.phrase. intensifier adverbs (nearly, almost, rather, really) denote a point along a scale of intensity to which the action or property has been fulfilled: It’s rather chilly outside.

11. The A.m. of comparison is expressed by adjective or participle phrases introduced by the conjunction as, as if, as though. Adverbials of comparison may also be expressed by noun phrases introduced with than or as. These adverbials are preceded by comparatives – Some jobs are more difficult than others.

12. The A.m. of exclusion and substitution is expressed by nouns or nominal phrases introduced with the preps apart from, but, but for, except, instead and transfers the meaning of exception to the idea expressed by the rest of the sentence. Everybody was present but Jane.



30) Composite sentences as polypredicative constructions. Types and means of connection between parts of composite sentences.

Main features of the sentence:

1) expresses predication => is called a predicative unit. It’s the main characteristic of the sentence. The sentence reflects connection between the denoted situational event & reality, shows whether the action is real or unreal, desirable or not + expresses the time of the action.

2) nominates a situation or a situational event => can be called a nominative unit (but it’s not main feature – word’s feature).

3) can be called a communicative unit as it carries this/that communicative intention which determines the communicative type of the sentence. Traditional grammar defines the S.: it’s a word or a group of words capable of expressing a complete thought. Modern linguistics (e.g. semantic syntax)The S is a word or a group of words that nominate a situational event, express predication, and carry a communicative intention

The problem of the composite sent.: how to define it, how to know it from simple sentence. (1) the simple sent. is monopredicative, => has only 1 predicative line (center). The predicative line includes the subject + predicate. (2) the composite sent. is polypredicative => more than 1 predicative lines or centers, reflects 2 or more situational events, and each predicative center makes up a clause of its own.

Semi-composite sent. How to distinguish? “He waved his hand and went away”. – the S nominates 2 situational events but we can’t find 2 predicative centers in it as there is 1 subject & 1 clause => semi-composite (Blokh’s term) are intermediate between simple & composite.

Main features of the composite sentence: 1) a polypredicative unit, 2) is characterized by a communicative wholeness => has 1 communicative intention (смысл, значение), 3) is characterized by intonational wholeness, all are interconnected, 4) characteristic of literary written style, rarely used in oral speech, in conversations.

Types of composite sentences: Acc. to the type of connection of clauses we can distinguish between complex &compound sentences. In compound sent-s the type of connection of clauses is coordination- сочинит . (i.e. syntactically the clauses are of equal rank). In complex sent-s the type of connection of clauses is subordination- подчинит . & clauses are of unequal rank (principal and subordinate).

The means of combining clauses: syndetic (союзн.) & asyndetic (бессоюзн.). Syndetic => conj-s, relative pron-s (who, which), relative adv-s (where, how, when, why), phrases (as long as, in order that). Asyndetic => there are no connectives between the clauses. Some grammarians say, “the zero connector”.

Classification of subord. clauses: 2 approaches:

(1) shows correlation of clauses with parts of the sentence => a) the subject clause, b) the predicative, c) object, d) adverbial, e) attributive.

(2) correlates clauses with parts of speech & distinguishes: a) substantive clause – corresponding to subj., predic. & object clauses, b) adverbial clauses, c) adjectival clauses – corresponding to attribute clause. These 2 classifications correlate!



The composite sentence is built up of two or more predicative lines. It is a poly predicative construction and expresses several elementary situations united into one sentence. Each clause in a composite sentence corresponds to a separate sentence as a part of a contextual sequence. In other words the composite sentence is a structural and semantic unity of two or more syntactic constructions each of which has its predicative centre, that is the predicative line. This unity is built up on a certain syntactic connection and is used in speech communication as a unit equal to a simple sentence.

For ex: I didn’t go there, because I was afraid of the dog. – I was afraid of the dog so I didn’t go there.

When sentences unite into a composite sentence, they come into certain types of grammatical relationships those of coordination and subordination. Sentence clauses in a composite sentence can be joined by special function words or without them. The 1st type of sentences is called the syndetic sentence and the 2nd one is asyndetic one.

The compound sentence

It is a composite sentence built up on the principal of coordination which can be expressed either syndetically by means of coordinating formative words, which are often called coordinators or asyndetically without any coordinators. In this case they speak of zero coordinators. Semantically the clauses connected coordinatively can express different relations such as copulative, adversative, disjunctive, causal, consequential. The same relations can be traced between separate sentences which build up a contextual text. This was one of the reasons why some grammarians namely L.L.Iophic deny the existence of compound sentences as a kind of a composite sentence. But as a matter of fact there is a difference between the compound sentence and the corresponding textual sequence of independent sentences. In compound sentences the cause and effect relations are more clearly expressed.

 For ex: 1. Jane liked John, but Peter hated him. 2. Each of the stuck to their view points, so that caused a lot of quarrels between them.

The formative words linking the parts of a compound sentence fall into three types:

1. Coordinative conjunctions such as – and, but, or, yet and for;

2. Conjunctive adverbs such as – consequently, further more, hence, however, moreover, nevertheless, therefore, etc;

3. Fixed prepositional phrases such as – at least, as a result, after a while, in addition, in contrast, in the next place, on the other hand, for example, etc.;

The first part of the compound sentence is called THE LEADING CLAUSE and the second part is called THE SEQUENTIAL CLAUSE.  


1. Copulative relations are expressed by copulative coordinators which connect two clauses and their meanings, the second clause indicating an addition of equal importance, an advance in time or space or intensification.

(And, both…and, equally.and, alike…and, at once…and, neither …more, not…nor)

2. Disjunctive relations are expressed by disjunctive coordinators which connect two clauses but disconnect their meaning, the meaning of the 2nd clause excluding that in the first. ( or, or...either, either…or, otherwise, else, or…else)

3. Adversative relations are expressed by coordinators which connect two clauses but contrast their meanings (but, but then, only, still, yet, and yet, however, on the other hand, again, on the contrary, )

4. Causal relations are expressed by the only coordinator “for”, which connects two clauses and adds an independent proposition explaining the preceding statement.

5. Consequential relations (elative, inferential) are expressed by coordinators which connect two clauses and introduce a conclusion, consequence, result.

(namely, therefore, on that count, consequently, accordingly, so, then, hence)

6. Explanatory relations are expressed by coordinators which connect two clauses and introduce and explanation or a particularization. (namely, that is to say, or, such as, as, like, for example, for instance, let us say, say)

British grammarians treat the sequential clauses introduced by such coordinators appositions or appositive clauses. For ex: Out teacher namely Mr.Brown has postponed his lesson.

Pr.Bloch distinguishes marked and unmarked connections in compound sentences. Asyndetic compound sentences built up with the help of zero coordinators and by the copulative conjunction “and” express unmarked connections and such sentences can be called unmarked compound sentences. Marked connections are expressed syndetically with the help of the rest of coordinators excluding the conjunction “and”.

The principal clause is incomplete in sentences with the subject and predicative subordinate clauses. For ex:

1. Why you went there was a mystery to me.

2. his arrival was just what they have expected.

Complex sentences with subject and predicative clauses are called MERGER complex sentences and the principal are called MERGER principal clauses. The complex sentences with a deployment of subordinate clauses in the functions of secondary parts of the sentence such as object ,attribute, adverbial clauses are called NON-MERGER complex sentences. The principal clause can be an invalid one when the complex sentence includes both the subject and the predicative subordinate clauses.

For ex: why he went there is what surprises me. The principal clause is the only link verb IS. Why he went there is subject clause, what surprises me – predicative.


It denotes an object situation of the process expressed by the verbal constituent of the principal clause. For ex: They will accept with grace whatever he may offer.

I demand that you should take it.

He says the train won’t come.

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