Analysis Of A Complex Sentence

Analysis of a complex sentence

complex sentence consists of one main clause and one or more subordinate clauses.

The first thing we need to do to analyze a complex sentence is to find out the main or principal clause.

Study the example sentence given below.

  • Whenever he was asked that question, the old man who lived in that house answered that the earth was flat.

The sentence given above consists of four clauses. To find out the number of clauses in a sentence you just need to count the number of finite verbs in that sentence.

A sentence that has two finite verbs has two clauses. In the same way, a sentence that has four finite verbs has four clauses.

Verbs can be finite or non-finiteInfinitives, participles and gerunds are non-finites. All other verbs are finites.

So, in the example given above the finite verbs are: was asked, lived, answered and was.

Now let us analyze that sentence:

  • Whenever he was asked that question, the old man who lived in that house answered that the earth was flat.

Analysis of the complex sentence

1. The old man answered. (Main clause)

2. Whenever he was asked that question (Adverb clause of time modifying the verb ‘answered’.)

3. Who lived in that house (Adjective clause modifying the noun ‘man’.)

4. That the earth was flat (Noun clause which acts as the object of the main verb ‘answered’.)

Note that an adverb clause of time says when something happens. An adverb clause of place says where something happens. Adverbs usually express ideas such as time, place, manner, frequency etc.

noun clause usually acts as the subject or object of the verb in another clause. In the example given above, the noun clause is the object of the verb in the main clause.

Sometimes a subordinate clause has another subordinate clause within it.

Now let’s analyze another sentence.

  • I think that he pocketed the mobile phone which was lying on the table.

Before you start analyzing this sentence you have to find out the number of finite verbs in it.

There are three: think, pocketed and was lying.

You can find more information about finite and non-finite verbs on this page.

Analysis of the complex sentence

1. I think. (Main clause)

2. That he pocketed the mobile phone (Noun clause which acts as the object of the verb ‘think’.)

3. Which was lying on the table. (Adjective clause which modifies the noun ‘mobile phone’.)

image_pdfimage_print

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *