ТОП 10:

The emphatic and communicative functions of word order


§ 121. The second function of word order is to make prominent or emphatic that part of the sentence which is more important or informative in the speaker’s opinion. These two functions (to express prominence or information focus, and emphasis) are different in their purpose, but in many cases they go together or overlap, and are difficult to differentiate.

Prominence and emphasis are achieved by placing the wordin an unusual position: words normally placed at the beginning of the sentence (such as the subject) are placed towards the end, whereas words usually occupying positions closer to the end of the sentence (such as objects and predicatives) are shifted to the beginning.

End position is always emphaticfor the subject. Very often this reor­dering results in the detachment of the subject.


Must have cost a pretty penny, this dress of yours!

Fronting of an object or a predicative is also often accompanied by detachment.

Horrible these women are, ugly, dirty.

Many and long were the conversations they held through the prison wall.

For debt, drink, dancers he had a certain sympathy; but the pearls - no!


If the object is prepositional, the preposition may be put after the verb or verb-group, or else after the whole sentence.

This nowadays one hears notof.


However, front position of an object does not always mean that this part is emphasized. In some cases this sort of reordering is employed to get the predicate (or what is left of it) emphasized. Talent Mr. Macowber has, capital Mr. Macowberhas not.

Front position is emphatic for adverbials (of time, manner, degree) usually attached to the predicate. It is often accompanied by inversion.

Well do I remember the day.

Many a time has he given me good advice.


Withwords functioning now as adverbs, now as postpositions, front position reveals their adverbial nature most distinctly, as postpositions are never placed here. With this reordering the emphasis is thrown upon the predicate.

Off hewent.

Up theyrushed.


Forattributes emphasis may be achieved by putting them after their headword. In this way the modifier becomes the focus and has the principal stress of the word-group.


The day following was to decide our fate.




In assessing the emphatic effect of a postmodifying attribute we should bear in mind that for certain attributes this position is normal (see § 86).


However, the fixed patterns in English limit the opportunities to shift prominence or emphasis from one part of the sentence to another, especially for main parts. Therefore prominence and emphasis are generally achieved not by reordering, but by using special constructions. One such construction used for emphasizing the subject is the introductory non-local there + verb + noun, followed by an attributive clause.

There wasa girl whom he loved.

There comesa time when one should make up one’s mind.


Another device for shifting emphasis is the construction with the introductory it, the main information being supplied by the subordinate clause. By means of this construction emphasis may be thrown upon any part of the sentence, except the predicate. Such sentences are called cleft sentences. This can be illustrated by the following:


It wasshe who opened the door.

It isnot easy to find a position.

It wasto Moscow that she went.


Special emphasis on words functioning as direct or indirect object may be achieved by the use of the passive construction, in which the words to be emphasized are moved either to front position or closer to the end.

Compare the sentences:


The teacher gave the children an easy task.

The children were given an easy task by the teacher.

An easy task was given to the children by the teacher.

The linking function of word order


§ 122. The third function of word order is to express continuity of thought in sentences (or clauses) following one another. This continuity is often supported by demonstrative pronouns and adverbs.


Some people looked down on him. Those people he despised.

They must sow their wild oats. Such was his theory.

And, oh, that look! On that look Euphemia had spent much anxious thought.

Women are terribly vain. So are men - more so, if possible.


Similarly, for purposes of enumeration, a word (or words) marking continuity is sometimes placed at the beginning of the sentence, with the verb immediately following.

Next comes the most amusing scene.



Predicative complexes (or constructions) are structures intermediate between a phrase and a clause. Unlike phrases they contain two words I which semantically are in subject-predicate relations to one another, as one (the nominal part) denotes the doer of the action or the bearer of the state or quality, while the other (the predicated part) may be either verbal (an infinitive, a participle, a gerund) or non-verbal (an adjective, a stative, an adverb, a noun). But unlike clauses the subject-predicate relations in complexes are not grammatically explicit, that is there is no finite verb-form in them, functioning as the verbal predicate or as a link-verb of a nominal predicate. Therefore complexes have neitherreal subject, nor real predicate.

Still as they have two parts with subject-predicate relations between them the complexes may be transformed into a clause, as in:


I heard him cry ——>I heard that he cried.


Other peculirities result from their structural features:

The fact that they are devoid of the finite verb form renders them dependent on the embedding sentence, and the very absence of the finite verb form is sufficient to show their dependent status as will be shown in the case of different constructions:


It raining cats and dogs, we stayed at home (adverbial).

It is for you to decide it (predicative).

I saw him cross the streat. (object)


But in most cases the dependent status of the construction is manifested by special structural devices of linking:


1. It may beoverlapping (наложение) when the embedding sentence and the complex share a common element, as in the case of objective predicative complexes:


I saw him enter this door.


where him has a double role, referring formally to the predicate of the embedding sentence (I saw him) and referring semantically to the complex, as it denotes the doer of the action ( he entered this door); in such cases the construction functions as one part of the sentence (a complex object).

In some cases overlapping is possible with verbs taking a preposition, then the latter is retained between the verb and predicative comples:


Welistened to him talking to his neighbour.


2. It may beblending (слияние), when elements of two structures blend into one syntactical part, usually into а соmpound predicate of double orientation when two elements refer to different doers of the action, as in the subjective predicative construction:


He is supposed to have arrived already —> It is supposed (they suppose) that he has arrived already.


The first part of the predicate refers to an implied doer not expressed in the sentence, though formally it agrees with the subject he. The second part to have arrived refers to the doer expressed by the subject, though grammatically the reference is not expressed. The elements of the complex structurally make two parts of the sentence - the subject and part of the predicate of double orientation.

Predicative complexes comprise the following structures: subjective predicative construction, objective predicative construction, nominative absolute predicative constructions, for-to-infinitive constructions, gerundial complexes.

The first two constructions have permanent functions in the sentence, the functions of the last three may vary.

Due to the nature of the second part of the constructions (verbal or non-verbal) all the constructions (complexes) fall into two large classes:

1.verbal constructionsand 2.non-verbal constructions.

I.Verbal constructions can be transformed into clauses with a verbal predicate:


We saw the storm approaching ———> We saw that the storm was approaching.


It raining cats and dogs, we stayed at home. ——> As it was raining cats and dogs, we stayed at home.


The train is reported to have landed. ———> lt is reported (They report) that the plane has landed.


II.Non-verbal constructions can be transformed into clauses too, but with a compound nominal predicate.


The door was painted green.——> The door was painted and it became green.

They elected him president.——> They elected him and he became president (and he is president now).

He stood there trembling with his face ablaze. ——> He stood and his face was ablaze.


Verbal constructions fall into two groups:


1. those containing an infinitive and 2. those containing a participle.


The infinitive constructions are:

the objective infinitive construction, the subjective infinitive construction, the for-to-infinitive construction

and the absolute nominative infinitive construction.


The participial constructions are:

the objective participial construction, the subjective participial construc­tion, the nominative absolute

participial construction and the prepositional absolute participial construction.

The subjective predicative constructions *


* It is traditionally called the Complex Subject. The other term often used the Nominative with the infinitive construction does not embrace all variants, as the second element may be not an infinitive.

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