A Structural Account of English Tenseless Clausal Constructions

Dr. Himdad Abdul-Qahhar Muhammad, Salih Ibrahim Ahmed


This paper is an attempt to present a new classification for clausal constructions in English language, namely tenseless constructions. Moreover, it provides a structural account for this issue. It groups infinitive clauses, participle clauses, verbless clauses, and subjunctive that-clauses under the term ‘tenseless’ due to the absence of tense indicator in their structures. On this basis, the dichotomy of finite vs. non-finite is an imperfect classification as it excludes verbless and subjunctive that-clauses. Thus, the dichotomy of tensed vs. tenseless clauses is a better alternative since tenselessness is the feature which is common among all other clausal constructions other than tensed clauses. The focus of the paper is on the tenseless clausal constructions, and it consists of four sections: infinitive clauses, participle clauses, verbless clauses, and subjunctive that-clauses. The paper ends with the conclusions achieved throughout the study. One of the conclusions is that tenseless clauses are subordinate, and their structure is usually determined by the main-clause verb.   

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