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.


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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