with finite & nonfinite clauses
A complex sentence combines a simple sentence (often called an independent clause) with a subordinate clause. These sentences are the fundamental type used in academic writing--and thus a major feature in the reading and writing of ESL/EFL learners who are studying (or who wish to study) in the U.S. (or other English-speaking countries).
Complex sentences come in many varieties based on the types of subordinate clauses that are available in English. In the Longman Student Grammar (and other studies of English grammar), subordinate clauses are divided into two major types: (1) finite clauses snf (2) non-finite clauses. Let's go through these one by one.
are the basic subordinate clauses that are the focus of most work with
complex sentences and dependent clauses in ESL/EFL grammar/writing courses
and materials. The "finite" just means that there a full verb phrase--and
that the clause has some type of "time" meaning. Finite clauses include
(1) adverbial clauses, (2) noun clauses, (3) wh-clauses, and (4)
relative clauses. In each of the following examples, the verb phrase
is given in bold type to focus your attention on that feature of the clause.
are built around verbs that do not have tense or modality--verbs that are
not sentence verb phrases. These are clauses with (1) infinitives
and (2) participles (both -ed and -ing).
Non-Finite Clauses & ESL/EFL Materials & Teachers
Some teachers prefer to call infinitives and participles phrases. This terminology seems to be a reasonable response to a teaching reality: most learners have more trouble with the finite clauses than they do with non-finite clauses. Moreover, sentences with infinitives don' t appear to be very "complex": I like to study grammar looks like a simple SVO with the infinitive as the direct object. When teaching students how to write complex sentences, teachers are generally more concerned about the difficulties of getting the right verb tense (and all of it) in finite clauses; they don't want to complicate things by calling sentences with infinitives complex sentences. Because one of the audiences for textbooks is the teachers who will use it, in a grammar textbook that I published titled Applied English Grammar, I decided to go with the tradition of calling infinitives and participles phrases. I'm not sure I would make the same decision today, but I also do not think that it matters a great deal. In one setting, I can talk about infinitive clauses and in another setting infinitive phrases. I just advise that you be consistent in your usage--and that you follow whatever system is used in the textbook that you and the students are working with.
Consider these sets of made-up examples:
1a. The noise made by the car suggested an engine problem.1a and 2a show participle clauses that have adjectival function; they come after the noun and are attached to it and have become part of it. They can be analyzed as reduced relative clauses:
1a. The noise that was made by the car suggested an engine problem.While the other clauses have the same types of words and the same organization, they have different functions--and are analyzed as coming from different sourses. 1b and 2b are actually adverbial in function and meaning.
1b. Because we were tired from the trip, we went to bed right after dinner.Here's are authentic sentences from my sociology source. They're from a chapter opener that tells the story of an anthropologist's encounters with another culture.
Anthropologist Napolean Chagnon was nearing the end of a three-day journey to the home territory of the Yanomamo, one of the most technologically primitive societies remaining on earth.Please email me your questions and comments. Thanks.