Construction of Clauses and Verb types

Grammar, Grammar and more Grammar… 

A clause is a group of lexical items centered around a verb phrase.

There are 5 elements which can surround a verb phrase to create a clause. They have different functions.




Subject (S)

This is the person/thing carrying out the verb process

The man, I, Peter 

Verb (V)

This is the the main part of the verb phrase

Am, ready, eating

Complement (C)

This provides more information about the subject/object

wet, cold, drunk, tired

Adverbial (A)

The circumstances of the action so, where, when, hot etc.

the floor, outdoors, yesterday, today

Object (O)

What is affected by the verb phrase

ball, him, dog, shoes

The combinations used in each clause are important because they communicate in different ways because they create a particular tone. Think of it this way…just like the difference between active and passive voices has a big impact so does clause construction.

The technical bit…

If we have a SVOO clause construction e.g.

‘I paid you money’  [I=Subject Paid= Verb You=Object Money =Object]

then we call it a double-object construction because there are two objects. In these verb phrases we have whats known as the direct object i.e. the object directly affected by them process e.g. ‘money’ and the indirect object i.e. the object which is indirectly affected by the object e.g. ‘you’. The key in this theory is that look at the verb e.g. ‘paid’ and see which object has been affect i.e. was the money paid or was the boy/man.

There are three different types of verbs. They are classified by the amount of objects they require.

Type of verb

Objects required




Give, Build, Ask, Call, Buy



Put, Bit, Ate, Brought, Take



Yawn, Boil, Smell, Hang, Sit

However, it depends on the scenario e.g.

Cows give milk = monotransitive and 

Give me the pen = ditransitive


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