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Clauses of Manner and Comparison

Sub-clauses of manner and comparison characterise the action of the principal clause by comparing it to some other action. Patterns of this sort are synsemantic in their value. Sometimes the implication of

1 See: O. Jespersen. Essentials of English Grammar. London, 1933, p. 372.


comparison seems quite prominent, in other cases the clause is clearly one of manner.

The meaning of comparison makes itself quite evident in cases like the following:

You can lead men, I am sure, and there is no reason why you should not succeed at anything you set your hand to, just as you have succeeded in grammar. (London)

It followed inevitably upon the work, as the night follows upon the day. (London)

She was not exactly as daring as she seemed, but she loved to give that impression. (Dreiser)

In patterns like She did it as best as she could the implication of comparison is hardly felt at all.

The conjunction as has a wide and varied range of structural meanings. It is often used to introduce sub-clauses of time and cause, and it is only the context that makes the necessary meaning clear.

Further examples of sub-clauses of comparison are:

His father's face, dusky red, twitching as if he were going to cry, and words baking out that seemed rent from him by some spasm in his soul. (Galsworthy)

And all that passed seemed to pass as though his own power of thinking or doing had gone to sleep. (Galsworthy)

Overlapping relationships and synsemantics in hypotaxis

A word must be said about the synsemantic character of various types of hypotaxis which in many cases have mixed or overlapping meaning. In some of these instances there is only a suggestion of the secondary meaning, in others it is fairly prominent.

The complexity of sub-clauses, their synsemantic character and overlapping relations observed in various patterns of subordination bear immediate relevance to such questions as the lexico-grammatical organisation of the sentence, implicit predication and the potential valency of connectives introducing sub-clauses.

Overlapping relationship in adverbial clauses merits special consideration. Instances are not few when clauses introduced by subordinative connectives and clauses to which they are joined seem to be equal in their functional level.

It is always important to remember that not all the general potential meaning of a given category will be relevant in each occurrence. A distinction that is relevant to one occurrence of the pattern can sometimes have no bearing at all on another use. Examples to illustrate the statement are numerous. Thus, for instance, a conditional element can be suggestive of the secondary causal meaning e. g.:

"If that's what the President wants," said Garlock, "well, of course, I have no objection". (Baily)

..."And real reason, Mr. President?"


"Yes, damn it I need to plan some strategy and if I'm going to do it, I need to think for a change". (Baily)

"What shall I make my check for?" pursued Monsieur Profond. "Five hundred" said Soames shortly; "but I don't want you to take it if you don't care for it more than that". (Galsworthy)

A good example to illustrate overlapping relations of condition and cause will be found in Bain's Higher English Grammar, from the fable, where the ant says to the grasshopper, "It you sang in summer, dance in winter". The conjunction if has here the force of a reason, the condition being a realised fact. If you sang = since you sang or as you sang.

Causal relations are fairly prominent when the condition under which the action is performed precedes the action which results from it.

  1. If you have already made such arrangements I cannot interfere.

  2. If he'd had the brass to stay in England after committing such a bare-faced forgery, he would have the brass to come here again and see what more he could get. (Galsworthy)

  3. The thing I did not like was not being able to see her two whole weeks, but if it was for her good I was prepared to put up with that. (Curme)

  1. It was a mistake she was making,... but if she was determined on it, what could he do about it? (Curme)

  2. If you are not in love, of course there's no more to be said.(Galsworthy)

It is of interest to note that composite sentences with overlapping relations cf condition and cause are generally characterised by the indicative modality of the sub-clause. Predication in the principal clause can be of different modal force (indicative, oblique or imperative).

If Soames had faith, it was in what he called" English common sense"or the power to have things, if not one way then another. (Galsworthy)

And here are a few typical examples of sentence patterns with sub-clauses of condition used to intensify the relations of cause:

And if Brian even felt distrust for that sympathetic organisation it was only because all big names seemed like devil's threats to hold his soul in thrall. (Sillitoe)

In other cases if-clauses have a prominent suggestion of the meaning of concession, e. g.:

She would hold Tara, if she had to break the back of every person of it. (Mitchell)

If Old Jolyon saw, he took no notice. (Galsworthy)

They had come at a good bat up the slope and were a little out of breath: if they had anything to say they did not say it, but marched in the early awkwardness of breakfasted morning under the songs of the larks. (Galsworthy)

If Bosinney was conscious of her trouble, he made no sign. (Galsworthy)

A conditional sub-clause introduced by the conjunction if is sometimes suggestive of adversative relations, e. g.:

The senior senator from California was not a particularly striking figure, but he successfully conveyed the impression of being a man who expected to dominate a gathering and usually did. If he was a bit heavy across the midriff, that gave him a certain advantage over men of less ample bulk. If his


gestures were a trifle broad, his voice a shade too strong for ordinary conversation, these characteristics seemed appropriate enough in a man more used to being listened to than listening. (Baily)

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