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TYPES OF ADVERBIAL CLAUSES

Some adverbial clauses can be easily grouped under types more or less corresponding to the types of adverbial modifiers in a simple sentence, which have been considered above. Others are more specific for the complex sentence and do not fit into "pigeonholes" arranged in accordance with the analysis of the simple sentence. Among those that will easily fit into such "pigeonholes" are clauses denoting place, those denoting time (or temporal clauses), clauses of cause, purpose, and concession, and also those of result. There are also clauses of comparison and of degree.

Clauses of Place

There appears to be only one way of introducing such clauses, and this is by means of the relative adverb where, and in a very few cases by the phrase from where. For instance, . . .Miss Dotty insisted on looking into all the cupboards and behind the curtains to see, as she said, "if there were any eyes or ears where they were not wanted." This way of indicating the whereabouts of "eyes or ears" serves to characterise it by referring to a situation expressed by the subordinate clause, rather than to indicate the precise places meant. Then go where you usually sleep at night. Here the room where the person addressed is asked to go is characterised by what takes place there.

Here is an example of a prepositional where-clause denoting place in the literal sense of the term: From where he stood, leaning in an attitude of despair against the parapet of the terrace, Denis had seen them. . . The clause from ... the terrace denotes the place from which the action of the main clause (Denis had seen) was performed. Occasions for this particular way of denoting the place of an action appear to be rather rare.

The number of sentences with an adverbial clause of place is negligible as compared with those containing an adverbial clause of time. The cause of this is plain enough. It is only in exceptional cases that the speaker or writer deems it necessary to denote the place of an action by referring to another action which occurred at the same place. In the vast majority of cases he will rather indicate the place by directly naming it (at home, in London, at the nearest shop, and so forth). Sentences with adverbial clauses of place are therefore used only in cases where the speaker or writer avoids naming the place of the action, or in sentences of a generalising character, or again in sentences where the place is perhaps hard to define and the name is unimportant.

Clauses of place can also be used in a metaphorical sense, that is, the "place" indicated may not be a place at all in the literal meaning of the word but a certain generalised condition or sphere of action. This of course is made clear by the context, that is, by the lexical meanings of the other words in the sentence. Compare the following sentences. Wherever the choice has had to be made between the man of reason and the madman, the world has unhesitatingly followed the madman. Both the adverb wherever and the meaning of the sentence as a whole show that not a concrete place but a general review of conditions is meant.



Proverb: Where there is a will there is a way

Clauses of Time (Temporal Clauses)

The number of conjunctions used to introduce temporal clauses is very considerable, and it seems to be growing still at the ex-pense of nouns denoting time units, with the definite article, such as the moment, the instant, etc. Temporal clauses are used much more frequently than clauses of space.

On the one hand, time relations are much more varied than space relations. If we want to indicate the time when an action occurred by referring it to another action, the time relations between the two may be various. The one action may be taking place at the very time when the other action was being carried out; or it may have begun a short while after the other action was finished, or it may have ended just as the other action was about to begin, etc., etc.

On the other hand, it is a very common occurrence to indicate the time of an action by referring it to the time of another action, with which it happens to be connected either by some causal link or by a coincidence in time. The speaker or writer may in many cases use this way of indicating the time of an action, rather than an adverbial modifier of time in a simple sentence (such as, at five o'clock, etc.), because the exact time may be either unknown (this especially refers to actions in the future), or irrelevant. The time relation between the action of the main clause and that of the subordinate clause may be expressed with a very great degree of exactness: the two actions may be simultaneous, or the one may precede the other, or follow it, or it may last until the other has begun, etc.

There is one more point to be noted here. The action of the head clause may be connected with that of the temporal clause by some causal tie, that is, if the action of the temporal clause did not take place, that of the main clause would not take place either; or the connection may be purely temporal, with no causal relation implied. This is especially characteristic of temporal clauses indicating natural phenomena, such as sunrise, sunset, etc., which are not the cause of anything happening in human relations but merely an external method of reckoning time as it passes. The cases of the first kind (with causal relation implied) are to be seen in the following examples: She made a little curtsy as he bowed... She was busy enough, and on most nights her eyes closed the minute her head touched the pillow. A case of the second kind (with no causal relation implied) is seen in an example of a different character: As she stood hanging to the sill, a deafening explosion burst on her ears, louder than any cannon she had ever heard.

Occasionally a when-clause indicates an action opposed to that of the main clause, rather than the time when that main action occurred: Where on earth was the double game, when you've behaved like such a saint? Here, too, it is the lexical meanings of the words which make the relation clear. Of course a when-clause of this kind can only come after its head clause.

There are two more points to be mentioned in connection with temporal clauses, and they both bear on the temporal clause losing its subordinate character and tending to become independent of the clause with which it is connected.

One of these is the type of sentence which consists of a clause narrating some situation and followed by a when-clause telling of an event which burst into the situation and which is the central point of the whole sentence. Such a when-clause always comes after the main clause and this may be considered its grammatical peculiarity. A clear example of this type may be seen in the following sentence: Judith had just gone into her room and closed the door when she heard a man's voice in the parlour, and in a few minutes she heard the closing of Eve's bedroom door. It is quite clear here that the when-clause does not indicate the time when the action of the first clause took place but contains the statement which is the centre of the whole composite sentence. It is also evident that a when-clause of this kind must necessarily come after the head clause within the composite sentence. Compare also the following passages: It was the middle of the August afternoon when Harry Emory got back to his office at the canning factory after lunch and he felt drowsy and sluggish and downright lazy in the summer heat. Once more, we see from the lexical meanings of the words that the when-clause does not indicate the time when the action of the other clause took place. It might indeed be argued that it is the other way round: the first clause indicates the time when the action of the when-clause took place. This way of constructing the sentence seems to be designed to lay the main stress on the time indication, that is, to mark it out as the rheme of the whole sentence.

The conjunction while, as is well known, expresses simultaneity of an action with another action. However, this meaning of simultaneity can, under certain conditions, change into a different meaning altogether. If, say, two people simultaneously perform quite different actions, possibly opposed to one another in character, this state of things may serve to characterise the two people as opposed to each other. This may be the meaning of a sentence like the following: Magnus briefly outlined the case for the independent sovereignty of Scotland, while Frieda listened without any remarkable interest. It is clear that the while-clause does not here express the time when the action of the first clause took place: it rather expresses an action opposed in its character to the first action, and in this much it serves to characterise the doer of the action. We might here put the conjunction and instead of while and the actual meaning would be the same, though the sentence would now be a compound one. Since, therefore, the function of the second clause is quite different from the usual function of a subordinate adverbial temporal clause, and since no purely grammatical peculiarities make it necessary to term the second clause a subordinate one, we may say that it is not subordinate and the sentence not complex.

Causal Clauses

The similarity between temporal and causal clauses is manifested by the fact that both kinds of clauses can be introduced by the conjunction as, and nothing but the context, i. e. the lexical meanings of the words involved, will enable us to tell whether the clause is temporal or causal. Thus the difference between the two kinds is not grammatical in these cases. Let us consider the following two examples: For ever since he had fled from Kansas City, and by one humble device and another forced to make his way, he had been coming to the conclusion that on himself alone depended his future, with a clearly temporal meaning, and "So," said Helen, "since you obviously don't know how to behave in Great Britain, I shall take you back to France directly " , where the connection is causal.

There would be no necessity to analyse the meanings of the words, etc., if the subordinate clause were introduced by a conjunction which can have one meaning only, for instance, the conjunction because. No clause introduced by this conjunction could ever be a temporal clause.

A special problem, which has received much attention, attaches to clauses introduced by the conjunction for. In many ways they are parallel to clauses with because

But at the same time there is a basic difference between the two types. Because-clauses indicate the cause of the action expressed in the main clause. They can be used separately as an answer to the question why...?, as in the following bit of dialogue: "I must have come." "Why?" "Because I must. Because there would have been no other way." A for-clause could not possibly be used in this way. The reason is that a far-clause expresses an additional thought, that is, it is added on to a finished part of the sentence, as in the following extract: "What game are they all playing?" poor Fleda could only ask; for she had an intimate conviction that Owen was now under the roof of his betrothed.

It would also be impossible to replace because by for in the following sentence: But either because the rains had given a freshness, or because the sun was shedding a most glorious heat, or because two of the gentlemen were young in years and the third young in the spirit for some reason or other a change came over them.

This peculiarity of for-clauses as distinct from because-clauses is in full harmony with the fact that for-clauses can also come after a full stop, thus functioning as separate sentences, much as sentences introduced by the conjunction but do, as in the following extract: This thought cheered him and caused him to step along most briskly and gaily. For, since having indulged in this secret adventure so long time, both were unconsciously becoming bolder.

Conditional Clauses

Conditional clauses may be introduced by several conjunctions such as if (the most general one), unless, provided, supposing (with more specialised meanings), and the phrase in case.

An essential peculiarity of conditional clauses, or, we should rather say, of conditional sentences (including both the main and the subordinate clause), is the use of verbal forms. Here the actual meaning of a verbal form depends entirely on the syntactical context: it may acquire a meaning which it would never have outside this context.

The classification of conditional sentences is familiar enough. The main types are three: (1) If we can get to the bicycles, we shall beat him. (2) If they could derive advantage from betraying you, betray you they would . . . (3) If you had been arguing about a football match I should have been ready to take a more lenient view of the case,..

There may, however, also be other types, with the action of the subordinate clause belonging to the past and its consequence to the present, e. g. Anyhow, if you hadn't been ill, we shouldn't have you here, etc.

Subordinate conditional clauses can also, like some types of clauses considered above become independent sentences expressing wish. From a sentence like If I had known this in advance 1 should have done everything to help, etc., the conditional clause may be separated and become an independent exclamatory sentence: If I had known this in advance! The conjunction if in such a case apparently ceases to be a conjunction, since there is no other clause here. The conjunction then becomes a particle typical of this kind of exclamatory sentence. The following examples will illustrate this point: If only she might play the question loud enough to reach the ears of this Paul Steitler.

Clauses of Result

Clauses of result give rise to some discussion, since the distinction between them and some other types of subordinate clauses is in some cases doubtful and to a certain extent arbitrary.

It should first of all be noted that the term "clauses of result" must not be taken to imply that the result was necessarily planned in advance, or that it was consciously aimed at. The result may have been brought about without anybody's intention. So these clauses might be termed "clauses of consequence", but since that term is also liable to different interpretations, we may as well stick to the usual term "clauses of result".

Clauses of result may be connected with the head clause in either of two ways: (1) the clause is introduced by the conjunction that, while in the head clause there is the pronoun such or the adverb so, which is correlative with the conjunction; (2) the subordinate clause is introduced by the phrase so that.

The latter variety does not give rise to any special discussion. Lot us, for instance, take the sentence: In the centre of the chamber candlesticks were set, also brass, but polished, so that they shone like gold.

The head clause describes a situation, and the subordinate clause says what the result (or consequence) of that action was.

Things are somewhat less clear with clauses of the first variety (those introduced by the conjunction that, with a correlative such or so in the head clause). Here two possible ways of interpreting the facts appear. Let us take a sentence with the adverb so in the head clause correlative with the conjunction that introducing the subordinate clause: She was so far under his influence that she was now inclined to believe him. One way to look at this sentence is this: the head clause tells of some state of things, and the subordinate clause of another state of things which came as a result or consequence of the first. Taken in this way, the clause appears as a clause of result. However, that is not the only possible way of taking it. The other way would be this: the subordinate clause specifies the degree of the state of things expressed in the head clause by illustrating the effect it had. If the sentence is taken in isolation, it is absolutely impossible to tell which of the two views gets closer to the mark.

If the intensity of the state is described in the head clause and in that case the subordinate clause would have to be taken as an adverbial clause of result. With another sequel, it would be obvious that the state of things described in the second clause had no interest as such, but was mentioned exclusively in order to illustrate the degree of the state of things described in the head clause. In that case the clause may be taken as an adverbial clause of degree.

It remains now for us to consider the mutual relations between an adverbial clause of result and an adverbial modifier of result in a simple sentence.

Adverbial modifiers of result in a simple sentence are extremely rare. Here is a case in point: She was shaken almost to tears by her anger. Taking into account the lexical meanings of the words involved, we may perhaps term the phrase almost to tears an adverbial modifier of result.

In the vast majority of cases the result is an action or a situation which cannot be adequately expressed without a subordinate clause.

Clauses of Purpose

Clauses expressing purpose may, as is well known, be introduced either by the conjunction that or by the phrase in order that. There is a basic difference between the two variants. A clause introduced by in order that is sufficiently characterised as a clause of purpose, and nothing else is needed to identify it as such. A clause introduced by that, on the other hand, need not necessarily be a clause of purpose: it can also belong to one of several other types. To identify it as a clause of purpose other indications are needed, and the most usual of these is the verb may (might) or should as part of its predicate.

A clause of purpose can also be introduced by the phrase so that, and some special signs are needed to distinguish it from a clause of result.

Let us take as an example the following sentence with two clauses introduced by the phrase so that. Although slightly nearsighted, Elisabeth, so that nothing might damage the charm of her dark brown eyes, tragic and wide apart under straight brows, wore no glasses but carried instead a miniature lorgnette, for which she now searched in her purse, unobtrusively and on her lap so that Steitler, who was speaking to her son, would not notice.

Both clauses here are clauses of purpose, not result, and this is seen from the following facts: as to the first clause, its position between the subject of the main clause (Elizabeth), and its predicate (wore), shows beyond doubt that it cannot express result: the result could not possibly be mentioned before the action bringing it about was stated. Another point speaking in favour of the clause being one of purpose is its predicate (might damage). As to the second clause introduced by so that, its position at the end of the sentence does not tell anything about its being a clause of purpose or of result. That it is a clause of purpose is seen from the predicate (would not notice), which would have no reasonable sense in a clause of result. If we make a slight change and replace the predicate would not notice by did not notice, the clause will decidedly be a clause of result. So the meaning of the clause appears to depend entirely on the verb would.

Compare also the following sentence: Mrs Cox did not object to this so long as they talked English, so that she could keep a line on the conversation; if it was French, she did not know what they were up to. Here the words talked English and could keep a line point to the meaning of purpose, rather than result.

 


Date: 2015-12-24; view: 430


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