It has been noted in grammar books that there exist more than three
hundred definitions of the sentence but it seems hardly possible to
arrive to a complete and exaustive definition of the sentence because
the unit itself possesses so many specific features that any attempt to
define it in all respects would seem futile. Moreover, the philosophical
outlook and the linguistic conception of scholars predetermine their
approach to the main communicative units of language.
a) The sentence is identified as a syntactical level unit possessing the
distinguishing features of such level-units and occupying its
appropriate place in the hierarchy of syntactic units.
b) The sentence is a predicative unit of quite definite type which is a
lingual representation of predicative thoughts.
c) The sentence is the main syntactic unit and the highest linguistic
form which may occur as part of the supersyntactic structural forms. The
sentence itself Is not a mere composition of words and word-groups, it
is a constructive integration of all the lower language units.
d) The sentence is a very complex linguistic entity. Its complexity is
revealed both in its content and expression sides. The content of the
sentence is the complex of semantic features whereas the expression of
the sentence is represented by the complex of its formal
e) the sentence is undoubtedly the main communicative unit of human
language with the help of which speech communication is achieved, and
without which the latter is inconsistent. The communicative force of the
sentence is its distinguishing qualitative characteristics which makes
it dominant over the rest of syntactic units of non-predicative and of
The composite sentence, as different from the simple sentence, is formed
by two or more predicative lines.
Each predicative unit in a composite sentence makes up a clause in it,
so that a clause as part of a composite sentence corresponds to a
separate sentence as part of a contextual sequence. E.g.:
When I sat down is dinner I looked for an opportunity to slip in
casually the information that I had by accident run across the
Driffields; but news travelled fast in Blackstable (S. Maugham).
The cited composite sentence includes four clauses which are related to
one another on different semantic grounds. The sentences underlying the
clauses are the following:
I sat down to dinner. I looked for an opportunity to slip in casually
the information. I had by accident run across the Driffields. News
travelled fast in Blackstable.
In combination of sentences into larger units we may observe two
different types of grammatical relationship based upon relative position
and interaction of sentences. These are co-ordination and subordination.
This classification remains the prevalent scheme of the structural
classification of sentences in the grammars of all types in various
languages. A very important syntactic concept developed along with this
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