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Basic English Syntax With Exercises

Basic English Syntax With Exercises

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Published by Leslie Cooper

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Published by: Leslie Cooper on Nov 26, 2009
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11/04/2013

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We now move a little away from the thematic verb phrase to look at the aspectual
auxiliaries of English, have and be. As introduced in section 2 of this chapter, aspect is
a semantic phenomenon concerning the events described by verbs in terms of their
internal timing. We also pointed out that this is a rather complex issue which we will
not be investigating in this book. Instead, we will concentrate on the syntactic aspects
of the auxiliaries and associated elements trying to determine their structural positions
and syntactic nature.

In chapter 1, we established that the aspectual auxiliaries are non-thematic, non-
functional verbal elements, which are therefore categorially distinct from modal
auxiliaries which are functional verbs. We might assume that they are associated with
a phrase which they head and this phrase contains the thematic VP complex. A first
attempt to represent the structure is as in (154):

(154)

VP

V'

V

vP

has the electrician seen the light

Remember, that what we are looking at there is the D-structure, before movement
takes place. Thus this structure is that of a declarative VP, not an interrogative one. At
S-structure the subject will move out of the vP to the clausal subject position, where it
will get Case:

(155) the electrician1 [VP has [vP t1 seen the light]]

We will discuss this issue in the next chapter.

Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases

198

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