It's hard to explain why we [subordination / coordination]

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Sar9a

Member
italian
Hello everyone! I actually have no idea how all of this works but I hope I'll know soon.
I just started studying a bit of English linguistics but some uncertainties came up.

For instance,the main issue is that I don't know how to deal with subordination and coordination.
1. ''It's hard to explain why we like a particular hue''. In this example I would say ''it's hard'' is the main clause while ''to explain'' and ''why we like a particular hue'' are two different,but both subordinate, clauses. Is that correct?

2.''Whether or not we care to admit it,we're all familiar with procrastination''. I would go for ''we're all familiar with procrastination'' as the main clause and ''whether or not we care to admit it'' as the subordinate clause. But,should I split the subordinate in two taking ''care'' and ''to admit it''? How does it work?

3. Last but not least. ''Think of a footballer dribbling towards the net''. ''think of a footballer'' as the main clause and ''dribbling towards the net'' as a subordinate,right? What kind of subordinate would that be though?
If somebody knows a bit more than I do,it'll be very appreciated!! Thank you in advance :)))
 
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  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Welcome to the forum, Sar9a.:)

    A main clause must have a finite verb.

    It's hard to explain why we like a particular hue - the main clause is the whole sentence, with a noun clause (why we like a particular hue) embedded in it. [To explain [why we like a particular hue]] is hard. To explain grammar is hard. "To explain" is an infinitive, subject of the clause whose finite verb is "is".

    ...we're all familiar with procrastination - main clause (There is only one subordinate clause in the sentence. Care to admit - a catenative verb phrase. "To admit" is an infinitive)

    Think of a footballer dribbling towards the net. Think is an imperative, which is finite. Dribbling is a non-finite verb form.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Sentences don't usually break up into non-overlapping parts:

    [word 1 word 2 . . . word n] [word n + 1 . . . word p] [word p + 1 . . .]

    In simple cases you can do this. But usually you have phrases inside other phrases, and (often) clauses inside other clauses. (They're 'nested'.) Basically, there is one clause for each verb, so in your first sentence, the verbs 'is' (contracted), 'explain', and 'like' are at the centre of clauses. As velisarius has shown, your first sentence contains two subordinate clauses, one nested inside the other:

    [to explain [why we like a particular hue]]

    The words 'to explain' by themselves are not a constituent of the sentences. It's not:

    [to explain] [why we like a particular hue]

    In the second one, the clause centred on 'care' also contains another nested inside it:

    we [care [to admit it]]

    Again, this doesn't break up into:

    [we care] [to admit it]
     

    billj

    Senior Member
    British English
    Sar9a Could you please edit you question to remove the bold text? It makes it more difficult to read and it looks as though you are shouting at us!
     

    billj

    Senior Member
    British English
    Your examples are tricky to analyse, so I'll just do the first now, and the others later.

    [1] It's hard to explain why we like a particular hue.

    This is a special kind of construction called 'extraposition' where the dummy pronoun "it" is the subject, and the infinitival clause to explain why we like a particular hue is extraposed subject. The basic (non-extraposed) version is To explain why we like a particular hue is hard'.

    "It’s hard" is just part of the main clause, which is the sentence as a whole.

    "Hard" is predicative complement of "be" and the infinitival clause to explain why we like a particular hue is the extraposed subject in which why we like a particular hue is a subordinate interrogative clause (embedded question) functioning as complement of explain.

    The overall meaning of the sentence is "It’s hard to explain the answer to the question ‘Why do we like a particular hue?'"

    Does that make sense to you?
     

    Sar9a

    Member
    italian
    Thank you for the answer Velisarius and entangledbank.
    I just need a few more clarifications.
    1. So in this first one I should consider the whole sentence as the main one(without any subordinate clause)? ''It's hard to explain'' can't work as standalone clause;while ''why we like a particular hue'' would be the subordinate clause representing the object of the sentence?

    2. All good for this one.

    3. ''dribbling towards the net'' is a subordinate clause,isn't it? But,in that cause, what kind of subordinate would be? Because I only know three and it doesn'fit in any of those(relative,complement,adverbial)
    Thank you all guy if you answer!
     

    Sar9a

    Member
    italian
    That's exactly what I was looking for,thank you. I couldn't figure out extra-position.
    Whenever you want feel free to have a look at the other questions,thankss again!
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I'll just comment on the first sentence because it will be too long to address the other sentences.

    'It's hard to explain why we like a particular hue': this is complicated by the use of the cleft structure with a non-finite clause.

    That sentence means: '[To explain why we like a particular hue] is hard'. The whole bit within the square bracket is the subject here.

    'Why we like a particular hue' is a clause that functions as the object of explain. You can replace it with that, for instance: 'To explain that is hard', or 'It is hard to explain that'.
     

    billj

    Senior Member
    British English
    [2] Whether or not we care to admit it, we're all familiar with procrastination.

    Again the main (matrix) clause is the sentence as a whole.

    "To admit it" is complement of "care".

    This is called an 'exhaustive conditional construction', where the underlined element is a subordinate interrogative clause functioning as an adjunct.

    Briefly, the meaning is If we care to admit it, we’re all familiar with procrastination, and if we don’t care to admit it, we’re all familiar with procrastination.

    It’s called an exhaustive conditional construction because it uses an interrogative clause to express a set of conditions that exhaustively cover all the possibilities.
     

    billj

    Senior Member
    British English
    [3] Think of a footballer dribbling towards the net.

    Again the main clause (here, an imperative) is the sentence as a whole. "Think of a footballer" is just part of the main clause.

    A footballer dribbling towards the net is a non-finite clause with "a footballer" as subject, and the gerund-participial verb phrase "dribbling towards the net" as predicate.

    The clause functions as complement to the preposition "of", and the whole preposition phrase "of a footballer dribbling towards the net" is then complement of "think".
     
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