Hypotaxis is a formal way of saying that a sentence contains subordinate clauses or phrases that merely build on and add to the main clause. In a complex sentence, there is one main clause, and one or more subordinate clauses. These clauses are not independent. Instead, they provide additional information that clarifies the main clause of the sentence.
Sarah was awarded first prize after she wowed the audience with her singing.
Everything is going to be alright because mother said so.
Mrs. Taylor is my English teacher who lets us write about fairy tales and reads to us from fascinating books.
Examples of Hypotaxis from Literature
From James Baldwin's "Notes of a Native Son":
When I was around nine or ten I wrote a play which was directed by a young, white schoolteacher, a woman, who then took an interest in me, and gave me books to read, and, in order to corroborate my theatrical bent, decided to take me to see what she somewhat tactlessly referred to as 'real' plays.
From Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven":
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
From Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet:
She is the fairy responsible for dreaming, assuming a shape
No bigger than an image engraved on a stone in the ring
On the index finger of a politician,
Drawn (in her chariot) by a team of creatures as tiny as atoms
Across the noses of men as they lie asleep;
Literary Terms Examples