School of Humanities and
Formal & Functional Grammar
Clause elements (constituents)
grammar is a
We start our exploration of FG with
the idea of ‘text’
What is a text?
oA text is a piece of language in use; that is, “language that is
functional” (Halliday & Hasan, 1985).
oA use of language that has some identifiable social location and
purpose (which also has an identifying beginning & end).
oAny use of language in a context.
oCoheres both in terms of language use and meaning.
Adapted from Derewianka (1998)
The Rank Scale
o It identifies the different levels of
o It shows how the units at each level (or
rank) are made up of one or more units of
o Text – consists of one or more sentences
o Sentence (clause complex) – consists of one or more clauses
o Clause – consists of groups (and phrases)
o Group – consists of words (and/or groups/phrases/clauses)
o Phrase – consists of words (and/or groups/phrases/clauses)
o Word – consists of one or more morphemes
o Morpheme – consists of one or more phonemes
The Rank Scale
• Text: On Friday we went to the Blue Mountains. We stayed at David and
Delia’s house. It has a big garden and it has lots of colourful flowers.
• Clause Complex: It has a big garden and it has lots of colourful flowers.
• Clause: it has lots of colourful flowers
• Group: lots of colourful flowers
• Word: flowers
• Morphemes: flower s
(text from Droga and Humphries)
oWe recognise a clause by the presence or absence of the verbal group.
oMost functional linguists recognise four other groups:
§ Nominal groups (the car, the smoke…)
§ Adverbial groups earlier, well…)
§ Conjunction groups (firstly, because, as, when…)
§ Prepositional phrases (at the bus stop).
oUse // (a double slash) or two parallel lines (II) to mark the clause boundaries
On Friday we went to the Blue Mountains. We stayed at David and Delia’s house. It
has a big garden and it has lots of colourful flowers.
Task 1. Now divide the following individual clauses into groups and phrases and
write the name of each group or phrases in the box.
1. Rainforests are a valuable resource, so they need to be protected.
2. This does not reflect the interests of the children.
3. One day, Stacy’s stepfather discovered her noted.
4. Pull all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them thoroughly.
Independent clauses: Clauses that can stand alone are called
An independent clause contains a Subject and a verbal group.
a) Linguistics can be a fascinating pursuit.
b) She lived in a tiny-bed sit.
The clause complex
Dependent clauses: Clauses that cannot stand alone and provide supportive
information for an independent clause.
James won’t be home tomorrow II because the ABC called II and offered him a job
interview tomorrow morning.
James won’t be home tomorrow: independent clause
because the ABC called: dependent clause
and offered him a job interview tomorrow morning: dependent clause
Note: boundaries between clauses are marked with two parallel lines II, boundaries
between clause complexes are marked with three lines III.
The clause complex
A clause may function as one of the constituents of another clause or it may
function as a constituent of one of the groups/phrases in a clause. These are called
embedded or rank shifted clauses.
Note: We show an embedded clause by enclosing it in double square brackets [[…
]]. Here are some examples:
My husband loves the dress [[that I bought in Tokyo]].
Sit on the grass [[that has been freshly mown]].
[[What I really liked about Tokyo]] were the cherry blossoms.
At 10:15 am on Friday 23rd March there was an incident in which a
student sustained a minor injury. The student was participating in a
gymnastics class involving a series of floor exercises. During an
attempt at backward rolls the student strained her neck slightly.
Following assessment of the injury by the supervising teacher the
student was taken to hospital, where the injury was diagnosed as minor
neck strain. The medical officer on duty advised the student that she
would be fit to return to school the next day.
Divide the following text into clauses and mark boundaries on the text. Use two lines
to indicate boundaries between clauses and three lines for clauses complexes.