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The following will not be a "book" explanation, so hopefully it will be fairly easy to understand.
Two types of dependent clauses exist: subordinate clauses and embedded clauses.
Subordinate clauses are perhaps easier to recognise, they are "adjuncts". They could be ommitted without making the sentence ungrammatical. The words that introduce this type of clause are called "subordinators", and they have specific meaning (because, since, although,, etc.).
Embedded clauses are constructions that have been "fixed firmly into a surrounding context". Unlike subordinate clauses, which are in a way "added" to the main clause, these type of clause becomes a necessary part of the main or "container" clause. Embedded clauses would, more often than not, make a sentence ungrammatical if they were omitted. Certain types of nominal clauses and relative clauses are not "subordinate" but "embedded" clauses. Why? Because, unlike subordinate clauses, embedded clauses are necessary for a sentence to be grammatical. Embedded clauses are "high rank" propositions inside a larger unit; they can be thought of as "sentences within larger sentences".
In the case of nominal clauses, those introduced by "that" and "for" are embedded clauses. Both introductory words, called "complementisers" in order to differentiate them from "subordinators", are only links and have no meaning of their own.
"It was a pity (that Sharon's car broke down)."
Relative clauses are a special case of embedded clause. These are different from other embedded clauses in that they do not need to begin with "that" or any other complementiser but can, instead, begin with a "wh-word" (a relative pronoun like "who" or "which"). The relative pronoun will be usually either the subject or the object of the embedded clause.
In the sentence
"This is the mechanic (who repaired Sharon's car)."
"who repaired Sharon's car" is a relative clause (embedded clause). This clause is a sentence that has been "embedded" into another. You could rewrite the first sentence as two different sentences:
"This is the mechanic" and "The mechanic repaired Sharon's car"
"who" in the original sentence is the subject of the relative clause.
There are relative clauses introduced by "that", but this "that" is different from the one that I mentioned before and which introduced nominal clauses. Compare:
1. "This is the book (that I bought yesterday)." --> relative clause
2. "I told her (that I bought a book yesterday)." --> nominal clause
In sentence #1, "that" is a complementiser; it introduces the clause but has no function within it, it is not a relative pronoun.
In sentence #2, "that" is a relative pronoun and it has a function within the relative clause, it is its subject.
Both sentences contain embeded clauses, I only wanted to show the difference between "that" in the first sentence and in the second.
Hopefully, this will give you an idea about embedded clauses. If it doesn't, please let me know.
Also, here's the url of a post where you will find more information about relative clauses: http://www.englishforums.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=30993
Mother of Carolyn.
The information provided are quite helpful. I would like to know whether you can help me in converting a passage into an embedded passage. This is for my TESOL diploma and I am totally confused about it. Please reply me if you can help.
Thanks and Regards,
Praveen Karumathil ( Malaysia)
his affections, like ivy, were the growth of time, they implied no aptness in the object.
Even mathematicians have employed a use for the word embedded. You might have to ask the likes of Stephen Hawkings for an explanation of that one though, which I discovered is possible by emailing his website.
Many thanks in advance.
People are waiting to help.
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