I've been struggling to analyse this sentence in terms of its clause elements.

"That doesn't sound like him."

What I mean by the clause elements are the following: verb, subject, object, subject complement, object complement, adverbial and postmodification.

I'm particularly concerned about what words of the sentence are included in the element Verb. Is it just "doesn't sound" or is it "doesn't sound like"? I've read something about the prepositional copular/linking verbs, but unfortunately, it's still not clear to me, especially when I come across a sentence like this one.

  • 1
    It may help to separate lexical form and grammatical function. The sentence is one clause with subject (the pronoun "that") and predicate. The predicate consists of a verb ("does sound"), the negative particle ("not" disguised in the contraction "n't"), and a prepositional phrase ("like him") serving as an adverbial adjunct modifying the verb. The prepositional phrase consists of a preposition ("like") and its object (the pronoun "him"). – user105719 Feb 2 '20 at 0:10
  • There are two clauses: the sentence as a whole, called the matrix clause, which has "doesn't" as its verb, and the embedded infinitival clause "sound like him" which has "sound" as its verb. "Sound" has a similar meaning here to "seem". – BillJ Feb 2 '20 at 9:54

That doesn't sound like him.

This is a negative clause with verbal negation, i.e. there is negative inflection on the verb: "doesn't".

There are two clauses involved: a matrix, or main, clause (the sentence as a whole) and an embedded clause ("sound like him").

Matrix (main) clause:

Subject: "that" (a noun phrase)

Predicate: "doesn't sound like him" (verb phrase)

Within the predicate:

Predicator (verb): "doesn't"

Embedded clause ("sound like him")

Embedded (subordinate) clause:

Predicate: "sound like him".

Within the predicate:

Predicator (verb): "sound"

Adjective phrase: "like him", functioning as complement of "sound"

The adjective "like" is head of the AdjP, with "him" as its complement.

(Note that "sound like him" is an infinitival clause, i.e. it's non-finite, and most non-finite clauses have no overt subject, though we understand them as if they did -- in your example the understood subject is "that".)

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