Main clauses ← Subordinate clause ← Subordinate clause 578
The main clause may have several subordinate clauses of equal rank, that is coordinated with one another. This kind of relationship is called parallel subordination or co-subordination, and the subordinate clauses are homogeneous.
I know that you are afraid of me and that you suspect me of something.
In this case the structure of the sentence is:
|Main clause||Subordinate clause | and | Subordinate clause|
The main clause may have several subordinate clauses with different functions.
All she saw was that she might go to prison for a robbery she had committed years ago.
|Main clause All... was...||<——————————————||Predicative clause ... that she might go to prison for a robbery...|
|Attributive clause.. ...she saw...||Attributive clause .. .she had committed years ago.|
Occasionally the two ways of joining clauses may result in a sentence of great complexity, when two or more main clauses are coordinated, each of them being the “main” in relation to their subordinate clauses.
The walls were panelled, because this was the office of the department chairman, and because this
department was physics, the panels held small engraved portraits of Newton, Leibnitz, Faraday, and other
|Main clause The walls were panelled||—————and————————||main clause the panels held small engraved portraits of... scientists|
|Subordinate clause of cause...because this was the office of the department chairman||Subordinate clause of cause ...because this department was physics...|
§ 147. Subordination is used to join clauses with a different degree of interdependence or fusion, in the same way as parts of the sentence are joined to one another with a different intensity of connection. Therefore some clauses - subject, predicative, most object clauses - are obligatory for the completeness of main parts, which are otherwise deficient. For instance, in the sentence I think you are right it is impossible to drop the object clause, as the part I think makes no sense. In the same way if we drop the predicative clause in the sentence My opinion was that there was something behind, the part left *My opinion was is ungrammatical.
As can be seen from the examples given above, the role of a subordinate clause for the completeness of the main clause is closely connected with the function of the former.
Most adverbial clauses are optional, not essential for the completeness of the main clause. Thus if we drop the subordinate part in the following sentence, the part left will be identical with a simple sentence.
We’ll have dinner at 8 o’clock, when you come.
We’ll have dinner at 8 o'clock.
According to its syntactic function and the word it refers to, the subordinate clause may be placed before, after, or in the middle of the main clause. Punctuation also depends on these factors: if closely connected, a clause may be joined without any punctuation mark.
I know he is here.
This is the man I toldyou about.
If the connection is rather loose the clause may be commad off.
Should you see him, give him my regards.
In some cases, especially in the case of asyndetic connection, a subordinate clause may be separated by a dash to mark the borderline between the clauses.
The evil simply was - he had missed his vocation: he should have been a soldier, and circumstances had
made him a priest.
Semantically the main clause generally dominates the subordinate clause, as it contains the main information of the utterance. However, there are cases when one part is as important as the other, and even cases when the subordinate clause is the central informative part of the sentence and the main clause is less important, introductory, maintaining only the immediate communicative connection with the listener:
I asked him if he knew the man.
There are cases when the main clause is relegated to a link-verb only:
What he saysis not what he thinks.
Complex sentences are classified according to the function of the subordinate clauses (that is, according to their meaning and position in relation to the main clause).