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II. The material to be read for the seminar

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An adverbial clause performs the function of an adverbial modifier. It can modify a verb, an adjective or adverb in the principal clause. E.g.: 1. He stopped as Kate came rushed out. (Heyn) 2. He was getting on better than he had expected. (Lindsay) 3. Frank … returned to the auction room as fast as his legs would carry him. (Dreiser)

According to their meaning we distinguish the following kinds of adverbial clauses: adverbial clauses of time, place, cause (reason), purpose, condition, concession, result, manner and comparison. Adverbial clauses are joined to the principal clause by means of subordinating conjunctions; they are not joined to the principal clause asyndetically except sometimes adverbial clauses of condition. An adverbial clause may precede the clause to which it is subordinated or follow it. In the first case it is separated from the principal clause by a comma, in the second, as a rule, no comma is used. An adverbial clause may also interrupt the principal clause in this case, a comma is used at the beginning and at the end of it. E.g.: 1. The sun was out again when I rode up to the farm. (Galsworthy) 2. When those two were gone, Jolyon did return to his painting. (Galsworthy) 3. The first words, when we had taken our seats, were spoken by my lady. (Collins)

Adverbial clauses of time show the time of the action expressed in the principal clause. Such clauses are introduced by the conjunctions when, as, after, till, until, directly, as soon as, since, now that, while, whenever, as long as. Adverbial clauses of time introduced by the conjunction when denote that the action of the principal clause and that of the subordinate clause are either simultaneous or follow each other. E.g.: 1. I took the little baby in my arms when it was awake, and nursed it lovingly. (Dickens) 2. When he had sealed and stamped the envelope, he went back to the window and drew a long breath. (Galsworthy). Clauses of time introduced by directly and as soon as denote that the two actions closely follow each other. E.g.: 1. As soon as the sun rose, I rose too. (Bronte) 2. I recognized the place directly I saw it.

A subordinate clause introduced by till and until indicates the concluding moment of the action of the principal clause or its future duration: 1. So we went on till we came to another hotel. (Jerome) 2. I watched the hall fill until extra chairs had to be placed among the palms. (Cronin)

An adverbial clause of place shows the place of the action expressed in the principal clause and may be introduced by the conjunctions where and wherever: I am quite comfortable where I am. (Wilde). 2. She came up to the window wherever she could see a beautiful landscape.

Adverbial clauses of concession express same circumstances despite which the action of the main clause is (was, will be) performed. They are introduced by the conjunctions though, although, no matter how, however, whatever, whichever, even if, even though or conjunctive phrases no matter what, no matter how, for all that, despite that: 1. Although the sun had set, the heat hung heavy in the narrow street. 2. Whoever may come, tell them that I am very busy. 3. Whatever he says, I don’t believe him. 4. Whoever he may be, he has no right to speak like that. 5. No matter how difficult the task might be, I’ll cope with it.

Adverbial clauses of causeexpress the reason, cause or motivation of the action expressed in the main clause or of its content as a whole. They are introduced by the conjunctions because, since, as, for the reason that, on the ground that, seeing that, considering that: 1. Since he had a certain talent for composition, his English master encouraged him to write little pieces. 2. We were up early in the morning, as we wanted to be in Oxford by the afternoon.

Adverbial clauses of purposeusually contain a planned action which is to be achieved by the action expressed by the predicate in the main clause. They are introduced by the conjunctions that (in order that, so that), lest, so as, for fear that. The predicate in the subordinate clause is in the subjunctive mood. E.g.: 1. That night the dining-room was cleared for dancing, so that the guests might feel freedom and gaiety in the air. (Galsworthy) 2. She was going on tiptoes, lest she should disturb him. (Dickens) 3. He opened the door, that he might still hear her music drifting in… (Galsworthy)

Adverbial clauses of comparisongive a qualification to the action or events rendered by the principal clause and are introduced by the conjunctions as if, as though, than, the more … the more, the less … the less: 1. When a man gets up at four o’clock and goes into a summer morning, he feels as if all had been made new. (Galsworthy) 2. Mr. Tupman did, as he was requested. (Dickens). Complex sentences where the principal and the subordinate clause are connected by the more … the more show correlative increase, quantitative or qualitative, in both the principal and the subordinate clause: 1. The more we learn, the cleverer we are. 2. The more we reflect upon this question, the harder it is to answer.

Thus clauses of adverbial positions constitute a vast domain of syntax which falls into many subdivisions each distinguishing its own field of specifications, complications and difficulties of analysis. The structural features of the principal clause differ with different types of subordinate clauses. In particular, various types of subordinate clauses affect the principal clause from the point of view of degree of its completeness.


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