“Out of respect for the rest of the class”

The full sentence is: "Out of respect for the rest of the class, please arrive on time."

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    It's an introductory prepositional phrase. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 13 '18 at 17:11
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    Thank you for your reply. How did you manage to identify that it's a prepositional phrase? – trubo882 Feb 13 '18 at 17:25
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    It is a preposition phrase headed by the prep "out". The PP functions as an adjunct of purpose, and is fairly mobile: "Please arrive on time out of respect for the rest of the class" is reasonably acceptable, at least grammatically so. – BillJ Feb 13 '18 at 18:09

In traditional terminology, a clause must have a subject and a finite verb:

If you value courtesy and respect for your classmates, you will arrive on time.

This sentence has two clauses:

  • a conditional clause: If you value courtesy... subject: you, verb: value
  • an independent clause: you will arrive on time. subject: you, verb: will arrive.

A phrase is a group of words performing the same function in a sentence:

  • Noun phrase: the best Chinese restaurant
  • verb phrase: will have been working
  • prepositional phrase: over the river

Your example sentence

Out of respect for the rest of the class, please arrive on time.

begins with three prepositional phrases. There is no verb. The prepositions are in bold:

  • out of respect
  • for the rest
  • of the class

Thus it can only be termed an introductory phrase.

  • 1
    Note, however, that the subject may well be missing from a subordinate clause, especially infinitives and gerunds, while there is always a verb, either finite (either present or past tense) or non-finite (infinitive or participle) in a clause. No verb, no clause. And contrariwise, the number of verbs in a sentence equals the number of clauses; yes verb, yes clause. If it's a constituent of more than one word, and it's not a clause, then it's a phrase. – John Lawler Feb 13 '18 at 18:38
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    That's why I added the caveat "traditional," since the term is "participial phrase," as I recall, even if it had a subject, and a subordinate clause is one with a subordinating conjunction. – KarlG Feb 13 '18 at 18:53
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    No, that's what they tell kids in third grade who ask questions, to shut them up. In fact only adverbial clauses begin with a subordinating conjunction. Noun clauses (subject or object complements) and Adjective clauses (relative clauses and NP complements) use different marking methods. Every sentence has a main clause, but there may be and usually are many other clauses, all subordinate. – John Lawler Feb 13 '18 at 19:38
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    If there are, as you say, many subordinate clauses, how do you explain to students beyond the third grade where to put commas of if you're using English grammar terms to teach German, when the finite verb will go to the end of the clause? Is that a dependent clause that may have one or more subordinate clauses? – KarlG Feb 13 '18 at 20:07
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    You can explain to any native speaker of English to put a comma where they hear one in the speech. English commas are audible, and phonologically determined, whereas German commas are governed by grammatical rules and have no consistent intonational shape. In either event, punctuation is no part of language, since it's part of writing, not speech. – John Lawler Feb 13 '18 at 22:54

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