Clause vs Sentence

The difference between a clause and a sentence can be difficult, but important. A clause basically must have a Finite whereas a sentence is just an orthographic convention beginning with a capital and ending with a full stop. Here is a text from SMH that illustrates this difference nicely:

When designing their own home, architects Sacha Zehnder and Jaya Param of Walk North Architects were reminded regularly they’d chosen ”the most difficult block” in the area.
Steep, tree-covered, 50 metres above sea level, with no road access; and, on idyllic but somewhat logistically challenging Scotland Island, in the middle of Pittwater and accessible only by boat.

Here the first part actually contains three clauses in one sentence: a mental Process (‘were reminded’) and a projected clause (‘had chosen’) plus a hypotactic ‘when’ clause. The second part, on the other hand, is a ‘sentence’, in that it begins with a capital and ends with a full stop, but is not a clause as there is no Finite element. I think the second sentence is, in fact, a kind of logico-semantic relation of enhancement giving reasons why the area is ‘difficult’ (although I guess you could also it’s elaboration – exemplifying the ‘area’).

I think a lot of EFL students might miss the logico-semantic link between the two parts if they are not familiar with the difference between ‘sentence’ and ‘clause’.


Activity: Logico-semantic relations

While EFL learners are often encouraged to ‘expand’ on their answers, very rarely are they given explicit instruction as to how. Here’s a quick activity I did the other day to get low-level learners thinking about expanding and prolonging their move in the exchange using enhancement, extension and elaboration (see Eggins & Slade, here). Very simply, enhancement (notated with ×) gives extra information to a clause by adding a cause, a condition or manner etc.; extension (notated with +) adds something new to the clause; while elaboration (notated with =) adds more to the clause by specifying or describing it.

For the activity, The exchange structure is initiate → respond + develop. First, write ‘×’, ‘+’ and ‘=’ on pieces of paper. In groups of four, one person plays the role of initiate while the other three choose a piece of paper each. The first person initiates the exchange with a simple Do you like [dogs]? and the other three then respond according to their card:

× Yes, I do. They are so friendly.

+ Yes, I do. I like cats better though.

= Yes, I do. I like poodles especially.

While it may not, of course, be the most natural of conversations, it does at least get them thinking about how to expand and maintain their turn in the exchange more effectively.