Complement Clause

The Complement clauses ( abbreviated as COMP-clauses) are commonly defined as subordinate clauses functioning as an argument of a predicate. The Complement Clause functions as an NP in a sentence – can occur anywhere a regular NP occurs:

– as the subject, object, complement, object of the preposition, etc.
– in apposition to other NPs
– as adjective complements

Complement Clauses: Classification

A. Declarative Type
1. “That” type
2. Infinitival type (For-to- type)
3. Gerundial type (Poss-ing type)

B. Interrogative Type
1. Yes/No sub-type
2. Wh sub-type

Features of Complement Clauses

The Complement Clause functions as an NP in a sentence – can occur anywhere a regular NP occurs:

– as the subject, object, complement, object of the preposition, etc.
– in apposition to other NPs
– as adjective complements.

S-complements either include a that-complementizer, If-complements introduced by the complementizers if (or whether), which in contrast to that, qualify the meaning of the COMP-clause. Finally, wh-complements have a specific syntactic structure which sets them apart from both S-complements and if-complements: They are introduced by a wh-word serving as an argument or adjunct in the embedded clause; that is, while the complementizers of S- and if-complement clauses are grammatical operators, the wh-pronouns/adverbs of wh-complements serve a semantic role within the embedded clause.

Complementizer Placement

‘That’ Type
• John knew that Bill was a fool
DS: John past-know-[Bill-past-be a fool]
The insert sentence is transformed into a CC, through the addition of a complementizer, in this case, that.
Complementizer Placement (CP) -> John-past-know-that-Bill-past-be-a fool.
AS -> John know-past that Bill be-past a fool
SS -> John knew that Bill was a fool.

Infinitival (For-to- ) Type
• John wished to go
DS: John-past-wish-[John-t-go]
CP -> John-past-wish-[for-John-to-go]
For del -> John-past-wish-[John-to-go]
Equi-NP del -> John-past-wish-to go.
AS -> John wish-past to go.
SS: John wished to go.

Gerundial (Poss-ing) Type
• It is dangerous arguing with women.
DS: [Someone-t-argue with women]-pres-be dangerous.
CP -> [Someone’s arguing with women]-pres-be dangerous.
Unsp NP del -> Arguing with women pres-be dangerous.
Extraposition -> It-pres-be dangerous arguing with women.
AS -> It-be-pres dangerous arguing with women.
SS: It is dangerous arguing with women.

Interrogative Type Complement Clauses

A. Yes/No Interrogative Type Complement Clause
Eg: I asked him if/whether he wanted the book.
B. Wh-interrogative Type Complement Clause
Eg: I asked him why he wanted the book.

Yes/No Interrogative Type Complement Clause
• I asked him if he wanted the book.
In this type of CC, the complementizer is either an if or a whether.
The insert sentence, in its SS, is a Yes/No interrogative, which in turn was derived from a (Q)-declarative sentence DS.
I asked him-[Did he want the book?]

Wh-interrogative Type Complement Clause
• I asked him why he wanted the book.
Here, the complementizer is the very same wh-question word, which is found in the Wh-interrogative question that is the insert sentence.
DS: I asked him-[Why did he want the book?]
The auxiliary inversion of the insert sentence is simultaneously reversed, leaving the sequence why he wanted the book.
SS: I asked him why he wanted the book.

  •  
    15
    Shares
  • 13
  •  
  • 2
  •  
  •  
  •  
Previous articleTypes of Reports
Next articlePlacement of Adverbs
Devika Panikar has been teaching English Language and Literature for 14 years now. She is an Assistant Professor with the Directorate of Collegiate Education under the Government of Kerala. She teaches at the Government Colleges coming under this directorate and is now posted at the Department of English, H.H. The Maharaja’s Government College for Women, Thiruvananthapuram. This website is a collection of the lecture notes that she prepared by referring various sources, for her students’ perusal. It has been compiled here for the sake of future generations.

COMMENT