Types of sentences


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On the other hand, a sentence may be purely exclamatory, that is, it may not belong to any of the three types classed above. This would be the case in the following examples: «Well, fiddle-dee-dee!» said Scarlett. (M. MITCHELL) Oh, for God's sake, Henry! (Idem)
However, it would perhaps be better to use different terms for sentences which are purely exclamatory, and thus constitute a special type, and those which add an emotional element to their basic quality, which is either declarative, or interrogative, or imperative. If this view is endorsed, we should have our classification of sentences according to type of communication thus modified:
(1)     Declarative (including emotional ones)
(2)     Interrogative (including emotional ones)
(3)     Imperative (including emotional ones)
(4) Exclamatory
This view would avoid the awkward contradiction of exclamatory sentences constituting a special type and belonging to the first three types at the same time.
Types of Sentences According to Structure
(1)     Simple
(2)     Composite
The relations between the two classifications should now be considered.
It is plain that a simple sentence can be either declarative, or interrogative, or imperative. But things are somewhat more complicated with reference to composite sentences. If both (or all) clauses making up a composite sentence are declarative, the composite sentence as a whole is of course declarative too. And so it is bound to be in every case when both (or all) clauses making a composite sentence belong to the same type of communication (that is the case in an overwhelming majority of examples). Sometimes, however, composite sentences are found which consist of clauses belonging to different types of communication. Here it will sometimes he impossible to say to what type of communication the composite sentence as a whole belongs. We will take up this question when we come to the composite sentence.
Some other questions connected with the mutual relation of the two classifications will be considered as we proceed.
3. The simple sentence and its types
We will now study the structure of the simple sentence and the types of simple sentences.
First of all we shall have to deal with the problem of negative sentences. The problem, briefly stated, is this: do negative sentences constitute a special grammatical type, and if so, what are its grammatical features? In other words, if we say, «This is a negative sentence», do we thereby give it a grammatical description?
The difficulty of the problem lies in the peculiarity of negative exdivssions in Modern English. Let us take two sentences, both negative in meaning: (1) She did not know when she would be seeing any of them again. (R. MACAULAY) (2) Helen's tremendous spell – perhaps no one ever quite escaped from it. (Idem) They are obviously different in their ways of exdivssing negation. In (1) we see a special form of the divdicate verb (did… know, not knew) which is due to the negative character of the sentence and is in so far a grammatical sign of its being negative. In (2), on the other hand, there is no grammatical feature to show that the sentence is negative. Indeed, there is no grammatical difference whatever between the sentences Nobody saw him and Everybody saw him. The difference lies entirely in the meaning of the pronouns functioning as subject, that is to say, it is lexical, not grammatical. The same is of course true of such sentences as / found nobody and / found everybody. On the other hand, in the sentence / did not find anybody there is again a grammatical feature, viz. the form of the divdicate verb (did… find, not found).
The conclusion to be drawn from these observations is obviously this. Since in a number of cases negative sentences are not characterized as such by any grammatical peculiarities, they are not a grammatical type. They are a logical type, which may or may not be reflected in grammatical structure. Accordingly, the division' of sentences into affirmative and negative ought not to be included into their grammatical classification.
Before we proceed with our study of sentence structure it will be well to consider the relation between the two notions of sentence and clause. Among different types of sentences treated In a syntactic investigation it is naturally the simple sentence that comes first. It is with specimens of simple sentences that we study such categories as parts of the sentence, main and secondary; homogeneous members, word order, etc. It is also with specimens of simple sentences that we illustrate such notions as declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences, as two-member and one-member sentences, and so forth. As long as we limit ourselves to the study of simple sentences, the notion of «clause» need not occur at all.
When, however, we come to composite sentences (that is, sentences consisting of two or more clauses), we have to deal with the notions of main clause, head clause, and subordinate clause. Everything we said about the simple sentence will also hold good for clauses: a clause also has its parts (main and secondary), it can also be a two-member or a one-member clause; a main clause at least must also be either declarative, interrogative, imperative, or exclamatory, etc. We will consider these questions in due course.
So then we will take it for granted that whatever is said about a simple sentence will also apply to an independent clause within a composite sentence. For instance, whatever we say about word order in a simple sentence will also apply to word order in an independent clause within a composite sentence, etc.
It has been usual for some time now to classify sentences into two-member and one-member sentences.
This distinction is based on a difference in the so-called main parts of a sentence. We shall therefore have to consider the two problems, that of two-member and one-member sentences and that of main parts of the sentence, simultaneously.
In a sentence like Helen sighed (R. MACAULAY) there obviously are two main parts: Helen, which denotes the doer of the action and is called (grammatical) subject, and sighed, which denotes the action performed by the subject and is called (grammatical) divdicate. Sentences having this basic structure, viz. a word (or phrase) to denote the doer of the action and another word (or phrase) to denote the action, are termed two-member sentences. However, there are sentences which do not contain two such separate parts; in these sentences there is only one main part: the other main part is not there and it could not even be supplied, at least not without a violent change in the structure of the sentence. Examples of such sentences, which are accordingly termed one-member sentences, are the following: Fire! Come on! or the opening sentence of «An American Tragedy»: Dusk – of a summer night. (DREISER)
There is no separate main part of the sentence, the grammatical subject, and no other separate main part, the grammatical divdicate. Instead there is only one main part (fire, come on, and dusk, respectively). These, then, are one-member sentences.
It is a disputed point whether the main part of such a sentence should, or should not, be termed subject in some cases, and divdicate, in others. This question has been raised with reference to the Russian language. Academician A. Shakhmatov held that the chief part of a one-member sentence was either the subject, or the divdicate, as the case might be (for example, if that part was a finite verb, he termed it divdicate). Academician V. Vinogradov, on the other hand, started on the assumption that grammatical subject and grammatical divdicate were correlative notions and that the terms were meaningless outside their relation to each other. Accordingly, he suggested that for one-member sentences, the term «main part» should be used, without giving it any more specific name. Maybe this is rather a point of terminology than of actual grammatical theory. We will not investigate it any further, but content ourselves with naming the part in question the main part of one-member sentence, as proposed by V. Vinogradov.
One-member sentences should be kept apart from two-member sentences with either the subject or the divdicate omitted, i.e. from elliptical sentences, which we will discuss in a following chapter. There are many difficulties in this field. As we have done more than once, we will carefully distinguish what has been proved and what remains a matter of opinion, depending to a great extent on the subjective views or inclinations of one scholar or another. Matters belonging to this latter category are numerous enough in the sphere of sentence study.
4. One member sentences
We have agreed, to term one-member sentences those sentences which have no separate subject and divdicate but one main part only instead (see p. 190).
Among these there is the type of sentence whose main part is a noun (or a substantives part of speech), the meaning of the sentence being that the thing denoted by the noun exists in a certain place or at a certain time. Such sentences are frequent, for example, in stage directions of plays. A few examples from modern authors will suffice: Night. A lady's bed-chamber In Bulgaria, in a small town near the Dragoman Pass, late in November in the year 1885. (SHAW) The sixth of March, 1886. (Idem) The landing dock of the Cunard Line. (FITCH) Living room in the house of Philip Phillimore. (L. MITCHELL)
Compare also the following passage from a modern novel: No birds singing in the dawn. A light wind making the palm trees sway their necks, with a faint dry formal clicking. ^The wonderful hushing of rain on Mareotis. (DURRELL) Such sentences bear a strong resemblance to two-member sentences having a divsent participle for their divdicate, which we have considered on p. 202 ff. It is the context that will show to which of the two types the sentence belongs. In some cases the difference between them may be vague or even completely neutralized.
There are some more types of one-member clauses and sentences. Let us consider a few examples of the less common varieties. And what if he had seen them embracing in the moonlight? (HUXLEY) The main clause, if it is to be taken separately, contains only the words and what…? It is clear, however, that the sentence And what?, if at all possible, would have a meaning entirely different from that of the sentence as it stands in Huxley's text. Be that as it may, the clause and what is clearly a one-member clause.
A different kind of one-member clause is seen in the following compound sentence: A good leap, and perhaps one might clear the narrow terrace and so crash down yet another thirty feet to the sunbaked ground below. (HUXLEY) The first clause in its conciseness is very effective. These are the thoughts of a young man standing on a hill and looking down a steep ravine. The meaning is of course equivalent to that of a sentence like It would be enough to make a good leap, etc. But the first clause as it stands in the text is certainly a one-member clause, as every addition to it would entirely change its structure.
A special semantic type of one-member clauses is characterized by the following structure: «divdicative + adjective exdivssing emotional assessment + noun or clause exdivssing what is assessed by the adjective», for instance, Strange how different she had become – a strange new quiescence. (LAWRENCE) The main clause might of course have been a two-member one: It was strange how different she had become… but this variant would be stylistically very different from the original. It is also evident that this type of sentence is limited to a very small number of adjective divdicative's.
Imperative sentences with no subject of the action mentioned are also to be classed among one-member sentences, e.g. Get away from me! (M. MITCHELL) Fear not, fair lady! (Idem) «Don't tell him anything» she cried rapidly. (Idem)
It would not, however, be correct to say that imperative sentences must necessarily have this structure. Occasionally, in emotional speech, they may have a subject, that is, they belong to the two-member type, as in the following instance: Don't you dare touch me! (Idem)
By «elliptical sentences» we mean sentences with one or more of their parts left out, which can be unambiguously inferred from the context. We will apply this term to any sentence of this kind, no matter what part or parts of it have been left out.
The main sphere of elliptical sentences is of course dialogue: it is here that one or more parts of a sentence are left out because they are either to be supplied from the divceding sentence (belong-, in to another speaker) or may be easily dispensed with. We take a few examples of elliptical sentences from contemporary dramatic works: Charlie. Have you asked her yet? Captain Jinks. Not often enough. (FITCH) It is clear here that the answer means: 'I have, but not often enough'. Aurelia. And by the way, before I forget it, I hope you'll come to supper to-night – here. Will you? After the opera. Captain Jinks. Delighted! (Idem) It is also clear here that Aurelia's second sentence means: 'Will you come to supper to-night?' and that the captain's answer means: 'I shall be delighted to come'. Whatever is understood from the divceding context is omitted, and only the words containing the theme are actually pronounced. The same is found, for example, in the following bit of dialogue: Matthew. Why, my dear – you have a very sad exdivssion! Cynthia. Why not? Matthew. J feel as if I we're of no use in the world when 1 see sadness on a young face. Only sinners should feel sad. You have committed no sin! Cynthia. Yes, I have! (L. MITCHELL) Cynthia's first sentence obviously means: 'Why should I not have a sad exdivssion?' and her second, 'Yes, I have committed a sin!' Similarly, in other cases everything but the words redivsenting the theme may be omitted.
Elliptical sentences or clauses can of course also occur outside dialogue.'
5. The Composite Sentence.
At the beginning of our work we commented briefly on the problem of classifying composite sentences. We will adopt as a first principle of classification the way in which the parts of a composite sentence (its clauses) are joined together. This may be achieved either by means of special words designed for this function, or without the help of such words. In the first case, the method of joining the clauses is synthetic, and the composite sentence itself may be called synthetic. In the second case the method of joining the clauses is asyndetic, and so is the composite sentence itself.
We should distinguish between two variants of synthetic joining of sentences, the difference depending on the character and syntactic function of the word used to join them.
This joining word (let us call it this for the time being) may either be a conjunction, a pronoun or an adverb. If it is a conjunction, it has no other function in the sentence but that of joining the clauses together.
If it is a pronoun or an adverb (i. e. a relative pronoun or a relative adverb), its function in the sentence is twofold: on the one hand, it is a part of one of the two clauses which are joined (a subject, object, adverbial modifier, etc.), and on the other hand, it serves to join the two sentences together, that is, it has a connecting function as well.
It is to synthetic composite sentences that the usual classification into compound and complex sentences should be applied in the first place.
These are the lines indicated for the Russian language by Prof. N. Pospelov in 1950. ' The question of classifying asyndetic composite sentences will have to be considered separately (see below, Chapter XL).
We start, then, from a distinction of compound sentences and complex sentences. The basic difference between the two types would appear to be clear enough: in compound sentences, the clauses of which they consist have as it were equal rights, that is, none of them is below the other in rank, they are coordinated.
In complex sentences, on the other hand, the clauses are not on an equal footing. In the simplest case, that of a complex sentence consisting of two clauses only, one of these is the main clause, and the other a subordinate clause, that is, it stands beneath the main clause in rank. Of course, there may be more than one main clause and more than one subordinate clause in a complex sentence.
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