Material Processes 1

Material clause construe “a quantum of change in the flow of events as taking place through some input of energy” (H & M, p.179). The unmarked tense is present-in-present (e.g. is doing). Material clauses answer the questions: What did X do? or What happened to X?

The material clause consists of one participant, the Actor, which “brings about the unfolding of the process through time” (H & M, p.180). The clause in its most basic form is Actor + Process to produce the intransitive clause:

  • The lion (Actor) ran (Process: material).

Alternatively, “the unfolding of the process may extend to another participant” (H & M, p.180), the Goal, to produce a transitive:

  • The lion (Actor) caught (Process: material) the tourist (Goal).

We may also add more information to both of these clauses with a Circumstance:

  • The lion (Actor) ran (Process) towards the tourist (Circumstance).
  • The lion (Actor) caught (Process) the tourist (Goal) quickly (Circumstance).

Note here the change in function of the word tourist.

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About eflfunc

I'm an EFL teacher in Japan and this is a blog to record some thoughts on using Systemic Functional Linguistics in the foreign language classroom.
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