Simple sentences are those that consist of a single main clause [주절, 主節]. There are about seven basic grammatical patterns for simple sentences. These consist of subjects (S), verbs (V), objects (O), complements (C), and adjuncts (A). A complement is a word in the predicate [the verb phrase; 술부, 述部] that completes the meaning or description of a subject or object; an adjunct [부가사, 附加詞] is an additional, optional element that adds further information, such as an adverb or a prepositional phrase (but the sentence would be grammatical and would make sense without it). Longer simpler sentences are built on the same patterns.
|Type||Example #1 (simple)||Example #2 (longer)|
|1. SV||Janice smiled.||The petite blond was grimacing.|
|2. SVC||Janice is tall.||A new hard drive would be a great addition.|
|3. SVO||Janice bought a car.||The incompetent repairman dropped the new hard drive.|
|4. SVOC||Janice made her neighbor angry.||The stupid repairman made the customer very upset.|
|5. SVOO||Janice gave her neighbor a present.||The stupid repairman had to give the customer a refund and an apology.|
|6. SVA||Janice left yesterday | in a hurry.||The evil scientist, who was experimenting with unspeakable and horrible projects, was chased | out of town | an angry mob.|
|7. SVOA||Janice gave them a present | rather unexpectedly.||The angry mob burned down the lab of the mad scientist | torches and kerosene | the middle of the cold, frosty night.|
In writing courses and in sentence grammar, we often distinguish the following types of clauses, which then form different types of sentences.
|Main or independent clauses||subject + verb
(+object / predicate) - SVO
Can exist by itself as a sentence
|Foregrounds a main idea|
|Subordinate (dependent) clauses||sub. conjunction + SVO
Cannot exist by itself as a sentence
|Backgrounds information, making it secondary to that of the main clause|
|Participle clauses||participle (adjectival form of verb) with objects / adjuncts, modifying a noun in the main clause||Backgrounds information that is additional, descriptive, explanatory, indicating results, etc.|
1 Basic clause-sentence types
Subordinate clauses that background information mainly include what are sometimes called adverbial subordinate clause. There are other types of subordinate clauses: relative clauses, for modifying nouns, and complement clauses for expressing complex ideas by embedding one clause into a higher clause as a subject or object of the higher clause (e.g., I know what you are thinking, I know that you are planning something).
These types of clauses can form the following sentence types.
|Simple||one main clause||The iguana ate the rodent.||Foregrounds activities and ideas|
|Compound or coordinate||two main clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction||The iguana at the rodent and the cheetah chases the zebra.||Foregrounds two clauses equally in sequence|
|Complex||main clause + subordinate clause||Zebras hate cheetahs because they always try to chase and eat them.||Backgrounds one idea to a main idea|
|Compound-complex||two main clauses + subordinate clause
(or main clause + two subordinate clauses)
|Some mammals hibernate in winter, but others simply adapt to cold weather, because they have evolved to adapt to and to exploit their niches differently.||Juxtaposes two foregrounded ideas with a backgrounded idea, e.g., for explanation|
A subordinate clause might go before a main clause to present secondary information leading up to the content of the main clause; or a subordinate clause could come after the main clause, to provide further explanation, evidence or support for the idea of the main clause.
- Because they always try to chase and eat zebras, zebras hate cheetahs
- Zebras hate cheetahs because they always try to chase and eat the zebras.
There are also non-finite clauses or phrases, such as participle phrases, and verbless clauses with be omitted (for modification).
- Having finished all my research writing, I decided to take a vacation.
- He talked about the different patients he was treating, many of them mentally ill.
2 Canonical verses non-canonical sentences
Canonical sentences are basic SVO sentences for normal foreground-background flow. Other types of sentences are used in academic writing, narrative writing, and informal types of writing.
|Passive||The object becomes the subject; the agent, cause or performer of an action may optionally be expressed with by + noun||A mixture of 4% acetic acid was prepared, enhanced with ground resins and aromatic compounds, and added to the salad; it was referred to as balsamic.||Focus or attention is on the subject, and what happens to it, rather than what it does|
|Inversion||An adjective, adverbial, or prepositional phrase moves to subject position, and the subject comes after the verb.
INV. + VSO
|The farmer entered the chicken coop, not suspecting the chickens would revolt against him. As he started to prepare their feed pellets, in the corner there appeared a large angry rooster with a knife, ready for hand-to-hand combat.||Makes a transition from one topic scene or topic to a related topic – a smooth topic shift or scene shift|
The following sentence types are informal, colloquial, or conversational.
|Cleft||It’s the X that...||A: The program comes in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Would you like the 32-bit?
B: It’s the 64-bit version that I need.
|emphasis and contrast, between alternatives|
|Wh-cleft (pseudo-cleft)||What [clause] is...||A: We only have the 32-bit in stock.
B: What I need is the 64-bit version.
|emphasis and contrast, between alternatives|
|Preposing (preposed object),
|object or phrase moved to sentence initial position; VSO sentence||She prepared several gifts for the committee members. One of these gifts was a toy phaser for the Trek fan; another was a little Tardis for the Dr Who fan.
|highlighting or emphasis (often said with emphatic intonation); |
sometimes used for repairs and echo questions.
|Left dislocation||Object moved to subject position, with corresponding pronoun in the predicate||Bronchitis is manageable. But pneumonia, you have to go to the hospital for that.||Amplifies a new item or topic in the discourse.|
|Extraposition (extraposed subject)||Complement clause moved out of subject position, with a dummy pronoun left behind||That I overslept was regrettable. →
It was regrettable that I overslept.
|Avoiding complex complement clause in subject position, which is harder for listeners to process|
|Like-cleft||It’s like...||I’ve tried the experiment three different ways. It’s like, I don’t know what to do.||Highlights or emphasizes the following clause, and can also soften or qualify it (some like as if)|