How school grammars classified sentences

The history of the division of sentences into simple, compound and complex:

Complex sentences are divided into members; and these, if complex, are subdivided into clauses, as, “The ox knoweth his owner | and the ass his master’s crib || but Israel doth not know [ my people doth not consider.” This complex sentence has two members, each of which contains two clauses. (p. 226)

  • 1845 Stephen W Clark’s “A Practical Grammar: in which Words, Phrases, and Sentences are Classified” (USA)
    • sentences are
      • simple (p. 38)
      • compound (containing a coordination of words or phrases, e.g. “Warner and Arthur study grammar”) (p. 38)
      • mixed (containing one subject but two coordinated predicates, e.g. “Time slept on flowers and lent his glass to Hope”) (p. 40)
      • complex (a ‘principal’ sentence and  its ‘auxiliary’ sentences – i.e. a main clause and its subordinate clauses, e.g. “A mortal disease was upon her vitals before Caesar had passed the Rubicon”) (p. 42)
  • “A higher English grammar” (1863) by Bain, Alexander, 1818-1903
    • A Complex Sentence, while containing but one principal Subject and one principal Predicate, has two or more finite Verbs: ‘the event happened, as it was foretold ‘.
    • A Compound Sentence contains two or more principal Sentences: ‘the individual dies, but the race endures ‘.
    • The Simple Sentence contains one Subject and one finite Verb.
  • “The best prescriptive grammars of the [mid 19th century], like C. P. Mason’s English Grammar (London, 1858) and A. Bain’s Higher English Grammar (London, 1863), paved the way for the first scientific grammar of English.”
    • ” A very important innovation in the concept of the compound sentence was its subdivision into the compound sentence proper, with coordinated component parts, and the complex sentence, characterized by subordination of clauses. In this way the dichotomic classification of sentences into simple and compound was changed into a trichotomic division, according to which sentences are divided into simple, compound and complex. This theory has since been accepted with very few exceptions by prescriptive, classical scientific and some structural as well as transformational grammars. The recognition and differentiation of the two principal syntactic modes of joining subject-predicate units, subordination and coordination (the former expressing syntactic dependence and the latter — equality of syntactic rank), was a great advance in the development of grammatical theory. Of great interest also is the elaboration of the concept of a clause as a syntactic unit containing a noun and a finite verb and forming part of a complex or compound sentence. Clauses are classified as independent and dependent or coordinate and subordinate. The latter were also classified morphologically as noun, adjective and adverb clauses, because grammarians considered clauses to be of the nature of a word, and not of a part of the sentence. These three kinds of clauses were further subdivided according to their syntactic functions in the sentence.” (source)

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