Rank Shifting is a major concept in sentence analysis in Systemic Functional Linguistics and Grammar. The concept of Rank Shifting helped us a lot to learn how a unit of different level can be brought down to create interesting linguistics structures. The concept of Rank Shifting does not exist in traditional grammar of English. Although it exists in all modern grammars of English in their own particular way. e.g. Phrase Structure Grammar labels a rank shifting clause as a sentence. This model does not recognise or label the concept as Rank Shifting but it acknowledges the existence of bigger units within/ at the places of smaller units.
Rank Shifting can be at various levels. It can be at word level, at phrase level, at clause level. The best example of Rank Shifting can be seen at qualifier position in a noun phrase. e.g.
The candidate of the minority won the election.
The candidate who was living in that city for long lost the election.
The italicized parts show rank shifting at word level from two different levels. Example 1 shows that a phrase is being used as a qualifier. At this place there should have been a single word but a group of words was used.
The second example shows how a clause can be rank shifted at qualifier level. This is also an example of rank shifting at word level.
Rank Shifting shows us how the grammar of language works with minimal possible labour to produce unlimited number of sentences. The concept of systems within systems can be seen while analysing a Rank Shifted Unit, when a whole system has been brought down to create density in language. It can be seen that Rank Shifting can be used to create complexity in structure of one's language. This concept can be useful while studying the style of an author. Rank Shifting can be a very good tool for an author to use creatively in his/her piece of literature.