As well as the grammatical system of THEME, the clause as a message also carries “a unit that is parallel to the clause” (H & M, p.88): the information unit. This is a system of Given and New information, where information “is presented by the speaker as recoverable (Given) or not recoverable (New) to the listener” (H & M, p.91) and is realised by the tone group. The unmarked form is one that proceeds Given → New:
- I usually (Given) play tennis (New).
The tone having prominence signals to the listener the information focus:
- I usually play tennis (Given) on Wednesdays (New).
It is also possible, however, for a marked information focus to signal to the listener that some information is news, often used contrastively:
- I (New) usually play tennis (Given) but my sister (New) doesn’t (Given).