Grammar-Quizzes Connectors › Subordinators

Subordinators

Include additional information within a clause

X structure diagram
walking
She says that she likes walking.
‹ diagram ›
► How is a subordinator a connective? ▼ Explanation of term

A subordinator:

  • expresses no meaning of its own. It has a grammatical function rather than a lexical (word) meaning.
  • functions as a marker that subordinates a clause to the main clause. 
  • takes form as:
    • that before a declarative clause; She says that she likes walking. She says that she likes walking.  Note because that does not carry meaning, it is often omitted, especially before commonly used verbs such as said, think, know, believe.
    • whether or if before a  yes-no question (closed interrogative) clause; He asked whether/if [we could go with him tomorrow.]
    • to before a plain form verb in an infinitival clause;  She wishes to [walk tomorrow.]  Nonfinite Clauses
    • for before a noun or accusative (obj) pronoun before an infinitival clause; She wishes for [us to [walk tomorrow.]] Infinitive Cls w/Subj
  • may be omitted under special circumstances:  omitting "that" (object pronoun in relative clause), omit "that" (said, think, know…), Omit "to" (bare infinitives).

See Connector Overview for sources.

 

Subordinators

Finite / Nonfinite (for/to)

Infinitives w/Subj (for/to)

He intends (for/to) infin

"It's easy" (for/to) infin

"It takes" (for/to) infin

 

Subordinators (complementizer, conjunction)

Summary of Practices

 

 

That–Clause:  embed a content clause within a main clause

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

John Glenn NASA

The need for more people in math and science is clear to all.

That we need more people in math and science is clear to all.

 

Statement Clauses: restate quoted speech within a clause (Indirect Speech)

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Couple under umbrella

She said, "It's raining here."

She said [that it was raining there].

Said Synonyms: explore other words for reporting speech (Indirect Speech)

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

speaker

She said to me [that it is nearby].

She told me [that it is nearby].

She added [that it is nearby].

Imperative Clauses: restate a command within a clause

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

A girl resting

The doctor said, Get some rest."

The doctor said [to get some rest].

The doctor said [that I should get some rest].

The doctor told me [to get some rest].

The doctor advised [that she get some rest].

Order + Noun + Infinitive: Impose will on others

Intermediate– Advanced ESL

Judge

The judge ordered John [to leave].  

The judge ordered [that John leave]. 

If / Whether: (subordinators) state a condition or an alternative

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

cell reception on a mountain top

I don't know if my mobile phone will work here.
I don't know whether my mobile phone will work here.


I don't know whether or not my mobile phone will work if I use it here.
       (alternative - whether or not)             (condition)

 

Yes/No-Question Clauses: restate quoted questions (Indirect or Reported Questions)

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Man asking questions

My friend said, "Are you coming with us?"

My friend asked whether I was going with them.

Finite / Nonfinite: recognize two clause categories (primary/secondary verbs)

Advanced ESL, Native Speaker

Charlie dislikes sitting all day

Charlie wants to raise his hand.  (infinitival)

Charlie dislikes sitting all day. (gerund-participle)

Charlie, annoyed, raised his hand. (past participle)

Subordinators—"for" as subject subordinator to an infinitival clause

"It is" Adj/Noun + Infin: express opinion or advice

Intermediate ESL

lab technician

It's a good idea to put on a lab coat.

It's a good idea for us to put on our lab coats.

It's hard for us to know when a rat will get loose.

Infinitive Cls w/Subj: take action vs. express desire for someone else to do an activity

Beginning– Intermediate ESL

Brummer Man sitting

Ed needs to get some help.
Ed needs me to get some help.


Ed intended for Frida to do the portrait.
Ed persuaded Frida to do the portrait.

Ed made Frida do the portrait.
Ed helped Frida (to) do the portrait.

So…that / Such…that: intensify a quality before stating an effect

Intermediate. ESL, Native Speaker

Meteor

The meteor storm was so beautiful that we watched it all night.

It was such a beautiful meteor storm that we watched it all night.

We will learn so much interesting information that it will take years to process it.  (quantity)

We will learn such interesting information that it will take years to process it.  (quality)

So that / So: express purpose vs. effect

Intermediate– Advanced ESL, Native Speaker

Meteor Shower

We stayed up all night so that we could watch a meteor storm.

We stayed up late, so we were able to see the meteor storm as it passed.

It as Subject Placeholder: use it to refer to a moved content clause  "It exposition"

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Fred Armisen and Barak Obama

It is obvious to all that Fred is a funny comedian.

It is easy to see his talent.

It seems to come naturally to him.

It takes a lot of talent to succeed.

It makes sense to take advantage of it.

It was late.  There were a lot of peoplel.

It seems /occurs / is likely: express opinion about a situation

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

uncertain teen

It seems that she is doing well.

It appears to me that she likes her classes.

It occurred to me that she would probably like that.

It happens that she knows an old friend of mine.

It strikes me as odd that she would quit ballet.

It seems odd to me that she would quit anything.

The Reason Is + Cls: specify reason by grouping or moving content

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Hire me

The reason that he can't find a job is the weak economy.
He can't find a job because the economy is weak.

The reason is logical.   "be - describing"

The reason is the economy. "be - specifying"

→The reason is that the economy is weak.

~The reason why is that the economy is weak.

~The reason is because the economy is weak.

~The reason for that is that the economy is weak.

See Connectives for a complete summary of connectors.