Literary Stylistics:
Workshop Notes No. 6

Further Notes on The Clause

Page Index
The Hallidayan Clause
   Nature of the Complement
   Absence of Constituents
Ordering of Constituents: Thematisation
The Adjuncts

The Clause in Halliday's Grammar

Before we can go to the analysis of mood and modality itself, let us go back to the constituents of the Hallidayan clause, which was introduced in the third workshop notes. We may want to note here again that an unmarked declarative clause may consist of the following:
     Subject, Finite, Predicator, Complement, Adjunct
(See below for the definition of the marked/unmarked distinction in linguistics).

These constituents can be illustrated with the example below:

Table 6.1
I am writing handouts for my students
Subject Finite Predicator Complement Adjunct

As mentioned in the earlier workshop, and as can be seen from the above illustration:

We can also note that
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Nature of the Complement

Another important feature to note is the nature of the complement:

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Absence of Constituents

Not all the constituents indicated above need to be present in all simple declarative clauses.

Ordering of Constituents: Thematisation

As you know, there is no necessity for the Subject - Finite - Predicator - Complement - Adjunct pattern to be present in the given order in a simple declarative clause in the active voice. One feature of the English language which you may have noticed, is the fact that you may shift some elements of the clause about. This is a factor which may be of relevance for theme-rheme analysis, which we will do later in the semester. For instance, the above example can be written as:
         ii) 'For my students, I am writing handouts',
         iii) 'Handouts I am writing for my students'.
In the instances here, the adjunct (more appropriately, the circumstantial adjunct) in ii), and the complement in iii) are fronted or thematised.

Since the idea of thematization in itself is not very difficult to understand, we may note here, in advance of our workshops on theme-rheme, that another word used to describe the fronted element of the clause is theme. We may also note that everything else which follows the theme in a single clause, is the rheme. In other words,

are all themes, and each of the rhemes is formed by all the other constituents within the clause which follow the theme, as illustrated below:
Table 6.2

Theme Rheme
i) I am writing handouts for my students
ii) For my students, I am writing handouts
iii) Handouts I am writing for my students

You may also want to note here that the constituent in iii) is less commonly thematised than that in i). In other words, it is more likely that the subject rather than the complement of a declarative clause is thematised.


A concept found in linguistics to indicate whether a linguistic element or pattern is or is not commonly found, is that of markedness. Hence

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The Adjuncts

You may have noticed that I have used the term circumstantial in parentheses in relation to the adjuncts above. Apart from circumstantial adjuncts, we also have modal and conjunctive adjuncts in Hallidayan linguistics. (There will be more discussion on these adjuncts later this semester; students who are interested may want to look at pp. 49-52, 81-3 and 302-9 of the first edition of Halliday's Introduction, pp. 48-52, 80-4, 323-30 of the second edition, or pp. 81-4, 125-33, 145-50, 260-80, 355-6, 359-60 of the third [n.b.: page references to the first edition will henceforth be in italics, those to the second in bold letters, and those to the third underlined]).

Our interest here is with the significance of the various types of adjuncts in the analysis of the structure of the clause. For this purpose, a very brief and basic definition of these adjuncts in terms of what Halliday calls the three metafunctions of language may be helpful.

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Texts to Analyse

Extract from Katherine Mansfield's 'Feuille d'Album'
Blake's 'The Tyger'

Further Reading

Dr Alvin Leong's lecture notes on the clause (which was earlier mentioned in Workshop Notes Three, in relation to downranking).

Click here for the notes for the next workshop.

Click here for the notes for the previous workshop.

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Last revised: 11 May 2017
Ismail S. Talib 1996-2017.