The notions of simple sentence and composite sentence are well defined and
distinctly opposed to each other, but still some transitional elements can be found
between them. Such sentences are termed transitional or semi-composite. The
following syntactical phenomena can be considered transitional cases:
1) sentences with homogeneous parts (sometimes also termed "contracted
2) sentences with a dependent appendix;
3) sentences with secondary predication.
By homogeneous partsof a sentence we mean parts of the same category
(two or more subjects, two or more predicates, two or more objects, etc.), standing
in the same relation to other parts of the sentence (e.g. I invited both my friends and colleagues.). Some types of sentences with homogeneous parts quite clearly fit into the general type of simple sentences, but there can be very complicated structures containing a common subject and homogeneous predicates, each having its own objects and adverbial modifiers. The reason why we cannot call such sentences compound is that they have only one subject and thus cannot be
separated into two clauses.
Sentences with a dependent appendixare structures which clearly
overstep the limits of the simple sentence and tend towards the complex sentence,
but which lack an essential feature of a complex sentence. They include:
1) phrases consisting of the conjunction than and a noun, pronoun, or phrase
following an adjective or adverb in the comparative degree (e.g. I have met many people much smarter than you.);
2) sentences containing an adjective or adverb, which may be preceded by
the adverb as, and an additional part consisting of the conjunction as and some
other word (an adjective, a noun, or an adverb) (e.g. Her features were as soft and delicate as those of her mother).
In each case a finite verb might be added at the end (either be, or do, or
have, or can, etc.), and then the sentence would become a complex one, but as they
are, such sentences occupy an intermediate position between complex and simples
Sentences with secondary predication.
Every sentence has predication, without it there would be no sentence. In a
usual two-member sentence the predication is between the subject and the
predicate. There are also sentences that contain one more predication, which can be
termed secondary predication.
In English there are several ways of expressing secondary predication:
1) the complex object (e.g. I saw you take it.) The syntactic function of the
group you take (or of its elements) can be considered either a complex object (in
this case the group is treated is a single syntactic unit) or an object and an objective
predicative. The choice between the two interpretations remains arbitrary. There is
no universal approach.
O. Jespersen has proposed the term "nexus" for every predicative grouping
of words, no matter by what grammatical means it is realised. He distinguishes
between a "junction", which is not a predicative group of words (e. g. reading man)
and "nexus", which is one (e. g. the man reads).l) If this term is adopted, we may
say that in the sentence I saw him run there are two nexuses: the primary one I
saw, and the secondary him run. In a similar way, in the sentence I found him ill,
the primary nexus would be I found, and the secondary him ill.
2) the absolute construction.
The absolute construction expresses attending circumstances — something
that happens alongside of the main action. This secondary action may be the cause
of the main action, or its condition, etc., but these relations are not indicated by any
The absolute construction is, as we have seen, basically a feature of literary
style and unfit for colloquial speech. Only a few more or less settled formulas such
as weather permitting may be found in ordinary conversation. Otherwise colloquial speech practically always has subordinate clauses where literary style may have absolute constructions.