Re: They made us translate an English paragraph. 2 clauses here?
Originally Posted by rewboss
Taking this, and adding to what MikeNewYork said:
Sometimes you can interpret the same thing in more than one way. A phrase is a group of words that acts as a unit in a sentence; thus a sentence like "The cheerful girl was running way too fast" contains three phrases -- the noun phrase "the cheerful girl", the verb phrase "was running" and the adverbial phrase "way too fast". Each can be replaced by a single word: "Mary ran fast".
In the sentence "They made us translate a text", the group of words "translate a text" does function as a phrase in itself; it can be replaced by a noun phrase, as in "They made us drinks", although that does completely change the meaning of the sentence. That said, the clause itself consists of two phrases: a verb phrase ("translate") and a noun phrase ("a text").
In short, it is not wrong to call it a phrase, as it does perform the function of a noun phrase. But because such phrases themselves can contain more than one phrase, it is probably more useful to class it as a clause, but a special type of clause.
All of which is probably very baffling to Burwood, let alone the non-native speakers here, but it all goes to prove one thing: That sentence analysis can be a very complex and difficult science, and there aren't always very clear-cut answers. Indeed, one can imagine grammarians grabbing each other by the lapel and screaming at each other, "It's a clause, I say!" -- "No, I tell you, it has no subject!"
I agree. I had a similar discussion with a linguist who determined that an object pronoun can be the subject of a non-finite clause. Well, that's fine, but it requires an entire rewrite of pronoun relatiuonships as well as the redefinition of clauses. Any system for the analysis of words in a sentence can work if it hangs together as a complete system. Unfortunately, some individuals have a tendency to change individual pieces that, after the change, no longer play well with the other pieces.