Sample Theme Analysis


One year [[after they got married]] they found their car keys.

Marked Theme: circumstance of temporal Location realised by a nominal group with an embedded clause as Qualifier.

Note: The reason one year after is not a conjunction group, with one year as a Premodifier of after is as follows:

(1) conjunctions form a word class within the primary word class of adverbials [Halliday & Matthiessen 2004: 358];

(2) Premodifiers in adverbial groups are grammatical items — there is no lexical premodification in the adverbial group [op cit: 356];

(3) items serving as Premodifiers in adverbial groups are adverbs of polarity, comparison or intensification [ibid];

(4) all the examples given of Premodifiers in conjunction groups are grammatical items (even, just, not, only), not lexical items [op cit: 358].

The utter ludicrousness of regarding preceding lexical words as Premodifiers within a conjunction group can be seen in the following, with the would-be conjunction group highlighted in bold:

One excruciatingly painful and somewhat hazardous, and not to say chaotic year after they got married… etc

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. eldon
    Oct 18, 2011 @ 00:34:21

    One year after [that] they found their car keys.
    One year [after [that]] they found their car keys.

    They found their car keys one year after [that]
    They found their car keys one year after [they got married]

    one year after [embedded clause as noun group]
    –> circumstance of time

    Oct 18, 2011 @ 09:38:14

    Function structure analysis of the nominal group realising the Location: time

    one: Numerative
    year: Thing
    [[after they got married]]: Qualifier

  3. eldon
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 20:57:17

    yes, but while i see what you are saying, i’m not necessarily agreeing this is the only way to cut it.

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