An Analysis of Hierarchy in English Clause Combination

Clarence Green


The following study presents research into English clause combination that describes how the types of clauses in English are distributed along a hierarchy of grammatical integration, in a much more complex fashion than the traditional coordination/subordination dichotomy suggests. This hierarchy extends and synthesizes previous descriptions of English combined clauses found in the most referenced descriptive grammars of English. A corpus analysis of patterns in the combined clauses that may be a consequence of hierarchy was also conducted. A corpus of 50 examples of each form was coded for tense/aspect continuity, subject continuity and syntactic function. The analysis confirmed that the different formal levels of integration amongst the clauses are reflected in their functional and discourse patterns. The implications of the study are that English clause combination might be beneficially described and taught as hierarchical beyond traditional binary categories, as combined clauses are a range of more or less integrated structures with distinct properties.  For teachers and advanced learners the research may help in an understanding of the relationship in English grammar between function, form, discourse and syntax.



English grammar, clause combination, corpus linguistics, coordination, subordination

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