Students understanding the complexity of language
 

Chapter 05-02: Clauses I – Clause Types

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Chapter 5: clause types

We begin with the assumption that a clause is a key grammatical unit and that every clause in English requires a  nominal subject and a main verb phrase/predicate, in that order. And, despite the  complexity of our language, we can categorize almost every clause as  one of five basic clause types. We use this categorization to recognize  that our language occurs in consistent patterns, and that certain FUNCTION SLOTS appear in the same places, whether those slots are  filled by a word, phrase, or even another clause.
 
Basically, English has FIVE simple clause types. The  structural differences in the main verb phrase and its predicate  elements are what distinguish the five types.
 
Clause Type I – Intransitive
Structurally, there are only two elements (two function slots) required in  Clause Type I: nominal subject and main verb phrase [intransitive]. Not  uncommonly, an adverbial can serve as a complement for this clause, but  it is not required. Oftentimes, this optional adverbial will take the form of a prepositional phrase, so be aware if you see a prepositional phrase following a main verb phrase then it is most likely Type I
Clause Type II – BE requiring adverb of time/place
Structurally, there are three required elements (three function slots) in Clause Type II:  nominal subject, main verb phrase [required BE Main Verb], and an adverbial of time or  place. This clause type is much less common than you might think.
Clause Type III – Linking verb with adjectival subject complement
Structurally, there are three required elements (three function slots) in Clause Type III:  nominal subject, main verb phrase [a linking verb that is most often a BE Main Verb], and an adjectival subject complement (that modifies the subject).
 Clause Type IV – Linking verb with nominal subject complement
Structurally, there are three required elements (three function slots) in Clause Type IV:  nominal subject, main verb phrase [a linking verb that is most often a BE Main Verb], and a nominal subject complement (that renames the subject).
 Clause Type V – Transitive
Structurally, there are three elements (three function slots) required in Clause Type V:  nominal subject, main verb phrase [transitive], and a nominal direct object  (a nominal that is different from the nominal subject).
Clause Type V – Transitive (variation)
This variation on Clause Type V has four elements (four function slots):  nominal subject, main verb phrase [transitive], a nominal indirect object, and a nominal direct object  (each nominal is different from the other two).
Clause Type V – Transitive (variation)
This variation on Clause Type V has four elements (four function slots): nominal subject, main verb phrase [transitive], a nominal direct object, and a nominal object complement (although this might also be an adjectival object complement). The key to recognize is that the object complement is renaming or modifying the direct object, not the subject.
 
We will discuss each of these clause types in more detail. For now, understand that each clause type is made up of very specific FUNCTION SLOTS that will show up consistently again and again. The sooner you recognize the makeup of each clause type, the easier that analyzing clauses will be in the future.