Actual Division of a Sentence

Actual Division of a Sentence


or functional perspective of a sentence, a linguistic term meaning the division of a sentence based on its expression of a concrete meaning in the context of a given situation.

Actual division breaks up a sentence into that which is considered to be known or easily understood (the theme, or point of departure), that which is told about the theme (the rheme, or kernel), and the elements of transition. For example, “He (theme) proved to be (transition) a splendid teacher (rheme).” Actual division of a sentence is presented as an alternative to the formal division of a sentence into grammatical elements. If the theme precedes the rheme, the order of words in the sentence is called objective; if the opposite is true, the order is subjective. For example, “Father (theme) is coming (rheme)” if the father is expected, but “Father (rheme) is coming (theme)” if footsteps have been heard. The actual division of a sentence is expressed by word order, intonation, and other means.


Matezius, V. “O tak nazyvaemom aktual’nom chlenenii pred-lozheniia.” In Prazhskii lingvisticheskii kruzhok. Moscow, 1967.
Lapteva, O. A. “Chekhoslovatskie raboty poslednikh let po voprosam aktual’nogo chleneniia predlozheniia.” Voprosy iazykoznaniia, 1963, no. 4.