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The Complex Sentence
Within a complex sentence clauses are joined by means of subordination, thus forming a complex sentence. Subordination is a way of linking grammatical elements that makes one of them dependent upon the other.. The first one is called the main (or principal) clause, the clause which is dependent on it is the subordinate clause. In a sentence there is one main clause and there can be several subordinate clauses.
Complex sentences can be formed by joining subordinate clauses to the main clause with conjunctions or conjunctive words (syndetically) or without them (asyndetically):
You can call yourself an extreme sports enthusiast (main clause) if (conjunction) you ski off cliffs (subordinate clause).
Sometimes I wish (main clause) life had subtitles (subordinate clause).
Conjunctions are the formal signals of subordination the only function of which is to link clauses and express the relation between them (that, because, through, in order that, as far as, if only, etc.):
Everybody knowsthat money doesn’t grow on trees.
Conjunctive words which are used to join nominal clauses combine two functions: to link clauses and to be a part in the subordinate clause (who, what, when, why, where, etc.):
Do you realize howfar it is to Hawaii?
Subordinate clauses function as different parts of the sentence (subject, predicative, object, apposition, attribute, adverbial modifier). Subordinate clauses can be classified under three headings: a) nominal (or noun) clauses (clauses functioning as nouns in various syntactical positions); b) attributive (or relative) clauses; c) adverbial clauses.
1. A subject clause may be introduced by the conjunctions that, if, whether, because, either...or, etc. or the conjunctive words who, what, which, where, how, why, wherever, etc.. Complex sentences with subject clauses may be of two patterns:
a) When a subject clause precedes the predicate of the main clause:
What was making him sad was the fact that his ladylove wasn’t with him.
What I want is for you to build me a house.
Whatever you say is wrong!
Because I ask too many questions doesn’t mean I am curious.
b) When a subject clause is in final position, the usual place of the subject being occupied by the formal introductory it:
It is understood that modern science allows such experiments.
It was lucky that she agreed to undertake the job.
2. A predicative clause may be introduced by the conjunctions that, whether, as, as if, as though, because, lest, etc. or the conjunctive words who, whoever, which, where, when, how, why, etc.:
The question is whether he has signed the contract.
It was as though our last meeting was forgotten.
A predicative clause has a fixed position in the sentence ― it always follows a link verb: to be, to seem, to appear, to feel, to look, to sound, etc., with which it forms a compound nominal predicate:
It appears he hasn’t been there.
Note 1. Predicative clauses introduced by the conjunctions as, as if, as though should not be confused with adverbial clauses of comparison introduced by the same conjunctions. A predicative clause immediately follows the link verb. Compare the following sentences:
It seems that there is no cure (a predicative clause).
It seems evident that there is no cure (a subject clause).
Note 2. If both the subject and the predicative are expressed by clauses the principal clause consists only of a link verb:
What he saysis that he goes away.
3. An object clausemay be introduced by the conjunctionsthat, if, whether, lest, etc. or the conjunctive words who, whoever, what, where, when, why, how, etc..
Everybody knows (that) money doesn’t grow on trees.
He asked me if I wanted to stay.
An object clause may either follow or precede the main clause:
What she thinks it would be impossible to say.
Swithin said he would go back to lunch at Timothy’s.
Object clauses may be used after adjectives expressing feeling, perception, desire, assurance: afraid, glad, happy, certain, sure, sorry, pleased, desirous, anxious, aware, etc.:
I’m very sorry I disturbed you.
He was glad that no one was at home.
Note: Like subject clauses, object clauses may be preceded by the formal it:
I like it when people are nice to me.
You must see to it that there should be no quarrel.
An object clause may be joined to the main clause by the prepositions after, about, before, for, of, beyond, etc.:
I want to be paid for what I do.
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