Course Outline EBS 282









Course: EBS 282: Forms and Functions of the English Clause                      Credit Hours: 2

Course Description

This course guides students to develop the conceptual knowledge and analytical skills for an in-depth description of the English clause, with a focus on subordinate clauses. It examines the formal characteristics and functions of embedded (or downranked) clauses and the forms and meanings of hypotactic clauses (or non-embedded subordinate clauses). Students’ knowledge of basic notions such as rank scale, rankshift/embedding, grammatical unit, grammatical class, and function will be consolidated and deepened.


Course Content

Week Topics Suggested Readings
1-2 The English clause in relation to organising principles of grammar

·         The English grammatical rank scale

–          constituent relationship

–          consist-of-relationship

·         Rankshift (or embedding)

–          ranking clauses

–          downranked (or embedded) clauses

Thompson (2014: Ch. 2)
3 Basic concepts in grammatical analysis

·         Grammatical unit/rank

·         Grammatical class

·         Grammatical function/element

Downing (2014: Unit 2)
4-5 Subordinate clauses and formal marking

·         The finite subordinate clause

·         The non-finite subordinate clause

·         The verbless clause (i.e. finite subordinate clauses with elliptical elements)

Quirk & Greenbaum (1973, pp. 310-313)


Downing (2014, pp. 12-13)


6-7 Forms and functions of nominal clauses (embedded clauses)

·         that-nominal clause

·         wh-nominal clause

·         Nominal relative clause

·         Infinitive nominal clause (to-infinitive and bare infinitive)

·         -ing-nominal clause

Quirk & Greenbaum (1973, pp. 316-322)
8-10 Relative clauses

·         Form of the relative clause

·         Restrictive relative clause (embedded subordinate clause)

·         Non-restrictive relative clause (non-embedded subordinate clause)

·         Factors determining the choice of the relative pronoun

Quirk & Greenbaum (1973, pp. 380-384)
11-13 Forms and meanings of adverbial clauses (ranking or non-embedded subordinate clauses)

·         time

·         condition

·         reason

·         purpose

·         manner

·         concession

Quirk & Greenbaum (1973, pp. 322-330)

Downing (2014, pp. 262-266)


Reading List

Biber, D. & Leech, G. (1999). Longman grammar of spoken and written English. London:


Downing, A. (2015). English grammar: A university course. London & New York: Routledge.

Huddleston, R. & Pullum, G. (2006). Coordination and subordination. In B. Aarts & A. McMahon (eds.), The handbook of English linguistics.198-219. Malden, MA, Oxford & Carlton: Blackwell.

Quirk, R. & Greenbaum, S. (1973). A university grammar of English. Essex: Longman.

Quirk, R., Greenbaum, S., Leech, G. & Svartvik, J. (1985). A comprehensive grammar of the English language. London: Longman.

Thompson, G. (2014). Introducing functional grammar (3rd edn.). New York & London: Routledge.


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