LITERARY DISCOURSE: Phrases, Clauses and Sentences Part Two

In a previous write-up, we started a discourse on PHRASES and CLAUSES as salient particles of a SENTENCE. STRUCTURAL and FUNCTIONAL types of sentences were also outlined as critical aspects worthy of discussion. Today, we continue the discourse from CLAUSES. Before we proceed we recap the Learning Outcomes.

Learning Outcomes
By the end of this discourse, fellow students and readers are expected to improve their understanding of:

Functional and structural types of sentences.
A Clause is a part of a sentence that contains its own subject and predicate. It is either independent/main or dependent/subordinate in construction.

Independent clause: a clause that can function as its own sentence and stand alone as a meaningful statement. Below is an example:

When Kotoko and RTU are playing, THE STADIUM IS FULL.

The above construction comprises two clauses or sentences – “When Kotoko and RTU are playing” and “The stadium is full.” Out of the two, the second clause, which is in uppercase, can stand alone and be meaningful. It is, therefore, an independent clause or a meaningful/simple sentence.

Dependent clause: a clause that cannot function as its own sentence. A dependent clause relies on an independent clause to complete its meaning. An example is as follows:

WHEN KOTOKO AND RTU ARE PLAYING, the stadium is full.

Using the same example, we realize that the first clause – WHEN KOTOKO AND RTU ARE PLAYING – cannot be meaningful if it does not depend on the second one. It is, therefore, a dependent clause.

Functions of the Dependent Clause
A dependent clause can function as any of the following:

A noun

An adverb
WHEN KOTOKO AND RTU ARE PLAYING, the stadium is full.

An adjective
The “fufu” THAT I ATE FOR DINNER made me drowsy.
Elliptical clause: a type of dependent clause with a subject and a verb that are implied rather than expressed.

THOUGH UNHAPPY, Tiyumtaba still smiled.
In the clause “THOUGH UNHAPPY”, the subject and the verb “HE WAS” are implied: Although (HE WAS) unhappy. Types of Sentences Functional

Sentences can be classified according to their content, function or intention: In this sense, sentences are of the following types:

Declarative sentence: a sentence that states a fact or an idea and ends in a period or full stop.

The police officer stopped the man in the red car because he was speeding.

Interrogative sentence: a sentence that asks a question and ends in a question mark.

Where are Rosemary and Maltiti?
Imperative sentence: a sentence that issues a command or makes a request.

Please, bring the newspaper.
Exclamatory sentence: a sentence that issues a command or makes a dramatic observation. Exclamation points or marks (!) always punctuate exclamatory sentences.

Huwwah! God is wonderful!
Get away from me!
Sentences can also be classified according to their structure, and below are the types of sentences in this classification:

Simple sentence: a sentence made up of a single independent clause.

Compound sentence: a sentence made up of two independent clauses connected by a coordinative conjunction. Note that both clauses are in uppercase.


Complex sentence: a sentence made up of one or more dependent clauses connected to an independent clause by one or more subordinative conjunctions. Note that the independent clauses are in uppercase.

Because it is a beautiful day, I AM EAGER TO GO TO BEACH.

Although it is a rainy day, I AM EAGER TO GO OUT because I have an appointment, which I cannot afford to miss.

Compound-complex sentence: a sentence made up of multiple independent clauses and at least one dependent clause. In a compound-complex sentence, each coordinate clause can be on its own – independent clause (Quagie, 2010; Quirk & Greenbaum, 2000). See some examples below:

I LOVE SUNSHINE, and I AM EAGER TO GO OUTSIDE because it is a beautiful day.

When I studied at Oxford University in 2008, I WAS HAPPY because there were many Ghanaians who were ready to socialise with me; and WE WERE ALL REALLY PLEASED.

To conclude, we need to summarise the salient points of this discourse for easy comprehension. Below is the summary:

A sentence is a complete reasonable statement made up of a subject and a predicate.

A clause is a complete logical statement that can function as a sentence. This implies that a sentence and a clause are the same and can be used interchangeably. However, the subordinate clause cannot be on its own.

A phrase is a group of words without a subject and a verb (predicate). Usually, phrases do not make a complete meaning when they stand alone.

In making grammatically accepted constructions, one should carefully utilise a variety of sentences, clauses and phrases.

Fellow student/reader, your comments/questions on this discussion are welcome.

God is the Best Grammarian.
Halliday, M. A. K. (2004). An introduction to functional grammar. (3 rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Harmer, J. (2001). The practice of teaching English language. (3 rd ed.). England: Longman.

Quirk, R.& Greenbaum, S. (2000). A university grammar of English. London: Pearson Education Ltd.

Quagie, J. K. (2010). English: a tool for communication. Accra: Hybrid Publication.

By Abubakar Mohammed Marzuq Azindoo, Coordinator of Students and University Relations, University of Applied Management (UAM), Germany – Ghana Campus, McCarthy Hill, Accra and Tamale

Email: Tell: 0244755402

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