The present paper discusses the distribution of complement clauses in a corpus of early English medical writing, considering whether the object is introduced by the complementizer that (I have already promised that […]) or by a to-infinitive clause (I promised to do the best I could). Among others, the following two factors have been found to play a decisive role in the use of these constructions: i) the existence of intervening elements between the matrix verb and subordinate clause, favouring the more explicit finite variant; and ii) the use of an additional personal object, the finite variant again preferred (Rohdenburg 1996: 166-167).
The present paper has been conceived with the following objectives: a) to analyze the use and distribution of finite and non-finite complement clauses in combination with the following object-controlling verbs: tell, order, promise, wish, and teach, among others; b) to classify the phenomenon in different text-types; and c) to evaluate if the above-mentioned factors condition the use of these constructions. The data used as source of evidence come from the Corpus of Early English Medical Writing, i.e. Middle English Medical Texts (MEMT for the period 1375-1500) and Early Modern English Medical Texts (EMEMT for the period 1500-1700).