Section 6: Clause Type I - Intransitive Verb

Clause Type I contains a main verb phrase that is intransitive (MVint)--meaning that it does not require a complement to follow it, like a nominal or an adjectival phrase. In other words, all the clause needs is a nominal subject and a main verb phrase. The easiest way to identify an intransitive verb is to determine if the action of the main verb phrase is complete in the context of this clause through just these two elements.

Consider the following examples:

  1. she arrived
  2. he ran
  3. *he reported

Clauses (1) and (2) are simple in structure, containing only a subject and a main verb phrase. Clause (3) is similar; however, it seems to be missing something. This is because clause (3) contains a transitive verb, which requires a direct object to complete its action (e.g. He reported [something]) - He reported the outcome. (We will discuss this in greater depth with Clause Type V).

Keep in mind, however, that many main verbs can be both intransative OR transitive, depending on the context. For example (using the clause from above):

  • He reported the facts, and that is what he reported.

In the first clause, HE REPORTED THE FACTS, we have a clear direct object (THE FACTS), so we must analyze it as a Type V. In the final clause, WHAT HE REPORTED, the main verb stands alone, so must be analyzed as a Type I

So the tricky part with an intransitive MVP is determining that everything in the predicate is not required. This means, basically, that in a Type I clause, you just need to make sure that no nominal (direct object) is present. In most cases, if a nominal (direct object) is not present, then everything else will be adverbial.

Despite the seeming simplicity of the above examples, language in its natural environment is more complex—crawling with modifiers. The following sentences are also Type I:

  1. He arrived before the storm.
  2. The reinforcements for the ambush finally arrived at base camp.

Remember, a clause is NOT a sentence. A sentence may have only one clause, but your analysis, especially for this section, should focus only on the clauses, which means finding the Main Verb Phrases first and foremost. For example, we could combine the two sentences above into one sentence that contains two clauses:

He arrived before the storm, and the reinforcements for the ambush finally arrived at base camp.

Each clause is still a Type I. The underlined sections are adjectival and/or adverbial modifiers present in both sentences; however, they are not required. They provide additional details, but they are not essential to meaning:

  1. He arrived.
  2. The reinforcements arrived.

Simplified, we find the underlying structure of a Type I in both examples. NOTE: the only structure that adverbial and/or adverbial phrases fill a mandatory slot is with the Type II clause, which we will look at next.

ONE FINAL NOTE: in most cases, any Main Verb that is a Passive Structure should be considered a Type I. We will analyze a more complex passage later for clause types, and we will discuss how clauses can combine to create sentence variety in Section 7.