1. Phraseology: units, features, views .................................................................................................. 6
[idioms, collocations, basic features, broad view, narrow view of idioms]
2. Traditional grouping of English multi-word expressions ................................................................... 7
[paremiological and non-paremiological expressions: proverbs, sayings, idioms, similes, binomials,
phrasal verbs, social formulae]
3. Idiom formation .................................................................................................................................. 9
[idiomatization of word groups, idiomatic derivation: extension, shortening, conversion, analogous
formation; borrowing: translation loan]
4. Form and structure of idioms .......................................................................................................... 11
[fixedness and variability: phrasal, syntagmatic, non-syntagmatic, minimal idioms, sentence idioms;
lexical and orthographic variations]
5. Semantic features of idioms ............................................................................................................ 13
[motivation and types of idioms, polysemy: pure/opaque idioms, semi-opaque idioms, semi-idioms;
polysemous and monosemous idioms]
6. Semantic and formal relations and grouping of idioms .................................................................. 15
[semantic fields, synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, paronyms, clusters, frames]
7. Function of idioms ........................................................................................................................... 17
[nominative, communicative, nominative and communicative idioms, idioms without any distinctive
function (modal interjectional idioms); noun, verbal, adjectival, adverbial,…idioms]
8. Usage and currency of idioms ........................................................................................................ 18
[stylistically and emotionally marked idioms, stylistic exploitation of idioms: currency and
restrictions in usage; informal, formal idioms; derogatory, offensive/taboo, humorous, ironic,
euphemistic idioms]
9. Geographical variations of idioms ................................................................................................... 23
[geographically marked and geographically neutral idioms, British and American idioms: identical
idioms, partially different idioms and geographic equivalents, different idioms, false friends, types
of differences]
10. English and Slovak idioms .............................................................................................................. 25
[contrastive (systemic/linguistic) and translation view: systemic translation equivalents, absolute,
relative and deceptive equivalents, systemic and individual shifts, cultural and linguistic shifts]


11. Corpus Linguistics ........................................................................................................................... 27
[quantitative analysis and interpretation of corpus data, corpus method in lexicology, corpus based
dictionaries, lexico-grammatical analysis]

12. General notes on style and stylistics .............................................................................................. 29
[object and tasks of stylistics, stylistics and information theory, different approaches to the types of
lexical meaning in stylistics]
13. Stylistic syntactic means based on expansion of information ........................................................ 31
[ordinary repetition, patterned repetition: anaphora, epiphora, anadiplosis, framing, chiasmus;
tautology, parallel constructions]
14. Stylistic semasiology: EM based on the interaction between the logical and emotive meanings of
a word .............................................................................................................................................. 33
[metaphor, personification, metonymy]
15. Stylistic semasiology: EM and SD based on the interaction between logical and emotive
meanings of a word ......................................................................................................................... 34
[meiosis, litotes and hyperbole, epithet, oxymoron]
16. Expressive means and lexico-syntactical SD ................................................................................. 36
[climax, anticlimax, antithesis, simile, periphrasis (logical, euphemistic, figurative), synonyms]
17. Phonetic expressive means and stylistic devices ........................................................................... 38
[assonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia, rhythm, rhyme]

18. Fundamentals of decoding stylistics ............................................................................................... 40
[foregrounding and its types: coupling, defeated expectancy, convergence, salient feature, textual
strong position]
19. Text categories ................................................................................................................................ 42
[cohesion, coherence, intertextuality, information value, anthropocentricity, evaluation, modality,
20. Types of stylistics ............................................................................................................................ 45
[genetic stylistics, immanent stylistics, stylistics of perception: decoding]
21. Basics of Cognitive Poetics ............................................................................................................. 47
[mental spaces, text worlds]


22. Object and tasks of semantics ........................................................................................................ 49
[definition of meaning, types of meaning]
23. Relation between language and factual reality ............................................................................... 51
[thought, proposition, sentence, utterance]
24. Extension, prototype and stereotype of a predicate ....................................................................... 52
25. Problem of reference ....................................................................................................................... 53
[semantic predicate, predication, referring expression, referent, constant and variable referents]
26. Context, universe of discourse, deixis and definiteness, generic sentences ................................ 55
27. Word and sentence meaning .......................................................................................................... 57
[morphological, syntactic and semantic derivation of words]
28. Sense relations ................................................................................................................................ 59
[synonymy and paraphrase, hyponymy and entailment, antonymy and contradictoriness, structural
ambiguity, sense properties of sentences]
29. Participant roles and interpersonal meaning .................................................................................. 61
[constantive and performative utterances, speech acts, direct and indirect illocutions]

30. Grammar .......................................................................................................................................... 63
[definition of grammar, grammatical units]
31. Ontological and functional classification of words into parts of speech ........................................ 65
[conversion, English - Slovak comparison]
32. Nouns and their secondary categories ........................................................................................... 69
[gender, number, English - Slovak comparison]
33. Nouns and their secondary categories ........................................................................................... 71
[case, definiteness, English - Slovak comparison]
34. Verbs and their secondary categories ............................................................................................ 73
[tense, aspect, English - Slovak comparison]
35. Verbs and their secondary categories ............................................................................................ 74
[voice, mood, English - Slovak comparison]
36. Form and function of adjectives and adverbs ................................................................................ 75
[form, function, English - Slovak comparison]
37. Sentences ........................................................................................................................................ 78

38. [simple and multiple sentences, one-element and two-element sentences, functional sentence
perspective, English - Slovak comparison]
39. Word order and sentence condensation ......................................................................................... 81
[word order, English - Slovak comparison]
40. Nominal tendencies and form and function of grammatical predicate ........................................... 83
[the form and function of grammatical predicate, English - Slovak comparison]
41. Comparison of English and Slovak languages ............................................................................... 85
[morphology, lexicology, syntax, phonology]


Phraseology: units, features, views

PHRASEOLOGY: the study of idioms. It is an ambiguous word - it can be defined as both, the study of
idioms as well as a collection of idiomatic expressions (the idiomatic units as a whole). Phraseography = a
study dealing with compiling phraseological dictionaries.

COLLOCATION: a group of words (usually two or three) which are used together by native speakers. It is
also a process of combining words together to form a unit.

There are two types of collocations:

Free collocations (unrestricted): it is a combination when one word may be combined with a relatively
large group of words e.g. 'white' (go white, turn white, look white)
Bound collocations (restricted): one word can be combined with a limited number of combinations
e.g. 'heavy' (heavy rain, heavy traffic) and the meaning of the individual word is restricted to that
particular phrase e.g. dry wine can only refer to wine that is 'not sweet'.

Other examples of collocations: light drinker, a flock of sheep, interested in, graduate from, commit suicide

IDIOMS: they are more fixed than collocations. It is a combination of words having a form of a group of words
or a sentence with relatively fixed structure and lexical-semantic features. They must be institutionalized i.e.
everybody knows them = it has to be known as a unit, it should be acknowledged by the whole community.

Idioms in a narrow sense = semantically opaque (non-transparent) expressions i.e. only those
combinations of words meaning of which is not the result of individual meanings of words. These are
usually called pure idioms. E.g. white elephant
, spill the beans
, blow the gaff
, the hair of the dog that
bit you, shoot the breeze/bull
. Idioms in a narrow sense are only phrases, they are not sentences.
Idioms in a broader sense = partially opaque expressions i.e. phrases meaning of which can be
guessed. These are called phrasal idioms or idioms proper E.g. once in a blue moon, it's raining cats
and dogs, as white as sheet, behind closed door, fair-weather friend, add fuel to the fire.
Idioms in the broadest sense = Expressions with phrasal and sentence structure, including pure
idioms and idioms proper, proverbs, similes, binomials, phrasal verbs, etc. e.g. the coast is clear,
make hay while the sun shines, all that glitters in not gold, of course, white elephant, as red as turkey-
cock, part and parcel
, blue-eyed boy, long time no see

An expensive, but a useless gift
To tell somebody something that should be kept secret or private
to tell something secret, especially by mistake
To have a conversation in an informal way
An essential part of something

Traditional grouping of English multi-word expressions

In its broadest use, the term idiom includes different types of multi-word expressions. Traditionally, we can
divide them into two groups: paremiological and non-paremiological expressions.


These are especially proverbs and sayings (but also adages, saws, aphorisms, maxims, truisms, and
). They are frequently connected to customs and traditions, have their socio-cultural value and are
studied in folklore studies and ethnography.

Proverbs: they have a sentence structure, they express certain traditional wisdom, traditions,
customs, but always have some didactic meaning. It may be direct (don't count your chickens before
they are hatched = nechvál den pred vecerom, nekric hop kym nepreskocis) based on history of
traditions, or indirect (all that glitters is not gold). Other examples of proverbs: a friend in need, a friend
indeed (v nudzi poznas priatela); out of sight, out of mind; make hay while the sun shines; look before
you leap (dva krat meraj a raz rez), there’s many a slip between the cup and lip (nekric hop kym
nepreskocis); there’s no smoke without fire (bez vetra sa ani listok nepohne); the apple never falls far
from the tree.

Sayings: saying is understood similarly but with one exception: it has no didactic meaning. It only
describes a certain situation or states a fact e.g. the coast is clear; what's your poison; the die is cast;
s/b’s days are numbered; and smoke it (=zapíš si to za uši); the fat is in the fire
; how goes the
enemy?; his eye is bigger than his belly.

Sometimes linguists distinguish also weather proverbs: April showers bring May flowers; clear moon frost soon;
a wind from the south has rain in its mouth and popular quotations: expressions originally said or written by a
known person may become proverbs/sayings or may become clichés in the course of time: the die is cast (J.
Caesar), to err is human (A. Pope), one swallow doesn’t make a summer (Aristotle), the buck stops here

(H.S.Truman); I came. I saw. I conquered. (J. Caesar); nothing comes from nothing (W. Shakespeare).


Similes (comparative idioms): compare different things or animals usually with people i.e. qualities of
things and animals are ascribed to people (in most cases) e.g. as white as a sheet = it has not only a
direct meaning (that he's white) but there is an additional connotation (he's ill) – there's always

The meaning of these terms frequently overlaps: all are kinds of memorable sayings, original thoughts, aphorisms
Trouble is about to start
Nobody else can be blamed

something behind it. As red as a turkey cock – he's not only red, but also nervous; as cross as two
; as right as rain (zdravý ako ryba; má úplnú pravdu). There are two kinds of similes: as…as or
like (sleep like a log; eat like a horse; eat like a bird; like a bull in a China shop (ako slon medzi
porcelánom); like a red rag to a bull).

Phrasal verbs: non-literal (idiomatic) very productive combinations. They consist always of a verb
plus usually an adverbial particle (sometimes preposition) e.g. give up, give in, go off (zazniet), put
up, bring up, look after. They are idioms; they have the character of idioms. We can speak about
transitive and intransitive phrasal verbs or separable and non-separable phrasal verbs (turn s/t off,
turn off s/t, shut up, break down). Included are the following types: verb + adverbial particle (shut up);
verb + adverbial particle + object (make s/t shut up); verb + particle + preposition (get away with);
verb + preposition (object) (look after s/b). Other examples: look forward to, pass away, look down on,
give up, let down, hang on, do away with (to stop doing s/t), fall behind (zaostavat).

Binomials: two pairs of words connected usually by the conjunction 'and' but less frequently also by
other conjunctions such as give, take. E.g. on and off (=z casu na cas), pick and choose (preberat si).
Binomials may be of different types: nouns (flesh and blood
), verbs (rise and shine
), adverbials
(back and forth; day and night), etc. Sometimes the words may be synonymous (pick and choose) or
oppositions (on and off). They are usually of the same word class. Sometimes we have binomials
without any conjunction (now now = no no; here, here = cujme, cujme). Sometimes there are the so-
called trinomials: there are three basic members of the group or unit e.g. hook, line, and sinker e.g.
he swallowed it hook, line, and sinker = zhltol to aj s naviakom; fall in love hook, line and sinker =
zamilovat sa až po uši; he fell for her hook, line, and sinker; Tom, Dick, and Harry e.g. I don't want to
have any Tom, Dick, and Harry in my house = kadekto, hocikto; morning, moon, and night; lock, stock
and barrel (including everything)

Social formulae /ˈfɔːrmjəliː/ : expressions that are used every day, when people are socializing, they
are social phrases, pragmatic idioms, gambits
, and routines. Many of them are used in direct
meaning e.g. long time no see; how do you do; How's things; how come; you're welcome; I beg your

All these expressions may be taken as a one group of idioms in the broadest sense, but traditionally they can
be divided because they have some individual features.

Very annoyed or irritated
A normal human with needs, emotions and weaknesses
Usually used in order to tell somebody to get out of bed and be active (old-fashioned)
Gambit = lexical item composed of more than one word

Idiom formation

IDIOMATIZATION: group of words gradually becomes an idiom. This group of words must be used for
relatively long time so that it becomes relatively fixed. There are different types of idiomatization:

1. Idiomatization of group of words (free phrases, free combinations) is used in everyday life, it
concerns all groups of words (animals, home, seaside, etc. → inspired by people, their lives, and
nature) e.g. red tape = they used to bounder documents with red tapes about 100 years ago; kick the
bucket = the origin might be from prison - in prison they hanged themselves by kicking the bucket
away. Another possible explanation is that when somebody killed a pig, they hung it on a
construction called bucket which the animal would kick as it was dying; to be in the red = in the past
if you owed money to the bank, they wrote your name with red ink. From sports and games: throw in
the towel;
Activities at/by the sea: rock the boat
, be at the helm
, plain sailing
, three sheets in the
, a baker's dozen.

2. Idiomatization of existing fixed expressions or terms: a process of extension of their original meaning
beyond their terminological field into more general spheres e.g. blank check was used in banks but
now is this term used outside of the banking system and means the same as green light which is
also used outside the traffic system and means volná ruka; carbon copy was used as a technical
term, but now it is used idiomatically expressing "exact copy"; gold mine is a place where gold is dug
out of the ground but now it is used also to refer to a business or an activity that makes a large
profit; face value was used to refer to the value of a stamp, coin, ticket, etc. that is shown on the
front of it – to take something at face value means to believe that something is what it appears to be,
without questioning it. More examples: rough diamond
, blind alley
, a guinea pig

3. Citation /saɪˈteɪʃn/: when somebody says something and people start to use it so that it becomes an
idiom i.e. it is institutionalization of quotations of well-known people, books, or works. E.g. after World
War II Churchill used in his speech two expressions that became idioms: iron curtain, cold war; Nixon
used silent majority
; Shakespeare: cakes and ale = zábavky, veselý život; many idioms come from
Greek mythology, Homer; or Bible: alpha and omega
, cast pearls before swine, an eye for an eye
(from the code of Hammurabi who was the king of Babylon).

Stop doing s/t because you cannot succeed. Origin - boxing: throwing in the towel is a sign that a fighter accepts defeat.
To do something that might upset s/b, cause problems or change the balance of a situation in some way.
In control of an organization; Origin: a helm is used for controlling the direction of a ship or a boat.
Be simple and free from trouble
Be drunk: Origin: in sailing, if three sheets are loose, the wind blows the sails about and the boat moves in an unsteady way
A person who has many good qualities even though they do not seem to be very polite, educated, etc.
A way of doing s/t that seems useful at first, but does not produce useful results, like following a path that suddenly stops
Large number of people in a country who think the same as each other, but do not express their views publicly
„I am the alpha and the omega“ → an appellation of Jesus

IDIOMATIC DERIVATION: formation of new idioms from existing idioms. Here we distinguish:

Shortening: cutting off one or more components of the existing idiomatic expressions. We usually
shorten proverbs and sayings e.g. make hay while the sun shines → to make hay (=take advantage
of something); last straw comes from the proverb it is the last straw that breaks the camel's back;
catch/grasp at straws comes from the expression (proverb) a drowning man catches at a straw.
Extension = we extend the original idiom by adding some words to it e.g. to give a blank check, to
give a green light; to make bad blood, to take something at face value.
Conversion = a process similar to conversion of words existing within the group of idioms with
phrasal structure e.g. when an idiom originally having the meaning and function of a noun is used
and functions as a verbal idiom or vice versa: a stab in the back – to stab in the back; a kick in the
– to kick in the teeth; to grin like a Cheshire cat - a grin like a Cheshire cat

Analogical formation = new idioms are formed by analogy to the existing idioms and their patterns
e.g. be in the black
(compared to be in the red) pink collar worker
(compared to blue collar worker)
golden handshake
, golden hello
, golden handcuffs
, golden parachute

BORROWING: the process of taking over or translating idioms from foreign languages. There are two types:

Borrowing of original phrases from other languages (Latin, French, Italian) e.g. persona non grata

(Lat); faux pas (Fre); enfant terrible
(Fre), viva voce
(Lat), alma mater (Lat)
, lingua franca
The original expression is literally translated e.g. blue blood comes from Spanish sangre azul; lose
from Chinese tiu lien. Borrowings can be also between varieties (from British to American
English, or vice versa) e.g. take a rain check was originally American and now is also used in British
English or paint the town red

A great disappointment; s/t that hurts s/b / s/t emotionally
It means that they have a broad, fixed smile (comes from Alice in Wonderland) /češər/
To have money
Is employed in a job that is traditionally considered to be women's work.
A large sum of money that is given to s/b when they leave their job, or to persuade them to leave their job
A large sum of money that is given to s/b for accepting a job
A large sum of money and other financial benefits that are given to s/b to persuade them to continue working for a company
rather than leaving to work for another company
Part of a work contract in which a business person is promised a large amount of money if they have to leave their job
A person who is not welcome
A person who is young and successful and whose behavior and ideas may be unusual and may shock or embarrass other
people /ɑː̃nfɑː̃n teˈriːbl/
A spoken exam, especially in a British university / vaivə voutʃi / AmE / viva voutʃi /
/ ælmə ma:tə /
A shared language of communication used between people whose main languages are different / lingwə frænkə /
To be less respected or look stupid because of s/t you have done
To go and enjoy yourself in the evening, often drinking a lot of alcohol and dancing

Form and structure of idioms

PHRASAL IDIOMS: they have a phrasal structure. We distinguish different types (from the point of structure):

Syntagmatic idioms = they have different syntagmatic structure. Syntagmatic idioms may be divided
into: 1. Verbal idioms = any idiom containing a verb, most frequently V + N, V + prep + N, V + Adv,
V + Adj, etc. e.g. smell a rat, drink like a fish, promise the moon, ring a bell, come clean
2. Non-
verbal idioms = idioms with different non-verbal structure e.g. Adj + N, (as) + Adj + as + N, Adj + Adj,
N + and + N, like + N (+Adj) + N, etc. E.g. dark horse (noun structure) as red as a turkey cock
(adjective structure); tooth and nail (adverbial structure)
Minimal Idioms = idioms having the structure containing one full word or one lexical word (or
sometimes even without it) and one or more functional words e.g. by the way, of course, at all, in the
light of, at hand (poruke). Some linguists don't acknowledge minimal idioms.

SENTENCE IDIOMS: idioms with a complete sentence structure of different type (simple, compound,
complex) - scratch my back and I'll scratch yours (ruka ruku umýva).

Some idioms have mixed structure - their variants belong to different types e.g. at last – at long last (minimal
and syntagmatic), for good – for good and all, at hand – close at hand, break the ice – the ice is broken.

Certain idioms have non-grammatical or non-syntactic structure (asyntactic idioms) = their structure is unusual
from the grammatical, logical, or even lexical point of view e.g. all of a sudden; put pen to the paper (dat to na
papier) – there should be a pen; there are irregularities in grammatical structure E.g. do the dirty, through thick
and thin, on your head be it (padne to na tvoju hlavu); long time no see.

Idioms are relatively fixed expressions. In reality, majority of English idioms are not fixed i.e. only a small
number of idioms are completely fixed e.g. all of a sudden is a completely fixed idiom, it can't be changed in
any situation; in the light of is completely fixed in British English, in American it is in light of. Other fixed
idioms: out of sight out of mind, once in a blue moon, by the way, at the eleventh hour

Most expressions are changeable: they undergo certain grammatical changes but the changes are limited –
they may have, for example, two alternative lexical variants. E.g. dark horse
can be used in the plural (dark
horses); have been in the wars – had been in the wars (no future, no present tense – fixedness is limited); lay
one’s cards on the table – put one’s cards on the table. In comparison to variable word combinations, idioms
are more fixed than collocations. Components of idioms may be altered only within definite limits, while the

To admit and explain s/t that you have kept as a secret
At the last possible moment; just in time
A person who doesn‘t tell people much about their life, and who surprises them by having interesting qualities

ranges of variations of collocations are relatively unlimited. Fixedness of many idioms is enhanced also by
prosodic and other features, such as rhyme, rhythm, alliteration, lexical repetition etc. e.g. spick and span, kith
and kin (=friends and relatives). The following changes can occur in idioms:

Lexical changes = they are usually limited, usually one or two concrete words can be changed e.g. last straw
– final straw; as white as a sheet – as pale as a sheet (adjective changes); lean over backwards (snažit sa zo
všetkých síl) – band over backwards; fit the bill (hodit sa) – fill the bill; as black as night – as black as midnight;
as clear as day – as clear as daylight (noun changes); close at hand – near at hand (adverbial changes), carry
/ take s/t too far; cast / throw light on s/t; sing a different song / tune
. Those two types are called lexical
variants (idiom with two lexical variants).

Grammatical changes = involve changes in syntax, morphology, or both. These variants are called
grammatical variants. Syntactic changes are more frequent than morphological. Syntactic variants occur, for
example, when we change the word order e.g. I take my hat off to the president – I take off my hat to the
president; on and off – off and on; as clear as crystal – crystal clear. Morphological variants undergo changes
such as: definite - indefinite article; singular – plural e.g. skin and bone – skin and bones; give somebody a
green light – give somebody the green light.

Orthographic changes (orthographic/spelling variants) = include changes in writing / spelling. We write
something as abbreviated, use hyphen, small or capital letters etc. e.g. bread-and-butter – B and B (=very
important); on the q.t. – on the Q.T. – on the quiet (=secretly); to a tee – to a T (=exactly right for s/b), stick in
the mud – stick-in-the-mud

Quantitative changes (quantitative variants) = variants of idioms with different optional parts e.g. a hard nut –
a hard nut to crack; as like as two peas – as like as two peas in a pod; now and then – every now and then; for
good – for good and all.

Many times these variations are combinable = complex variants e.g. a hard nut to crack – a hard nut =
change in lexical structure, but also syntactical; as red as a turkey cock – red as turkey cock; There are also
different types of variants, some of them may be stylistic e.g. up the creed without a paddle – up the creed – to
be up the shit creed; pain in the neck – pain in the ass. We can speak also about geographic variants i.e. in
British English we use other type than in American e.g. in the light, in light. (see ch. Geographical variants of

Variants of proverbs/sayings: all cats are grey in the dark / in the night / at night; there's no smoke without fire –
where there's smoke there's fire; when in Rome do as the Romans do – do in Rome as the Romans do; words
cut / hurt more than swords; there's a black sheep in every flock – every flock has its black sheep.

To change your opinion about somebody/something or your attitude towards somebody/something
A person who refuses to try anything new or exciting

Semantic features of idioms

Semantic features = idioms from the point of view of their meaning. Dark horse = a horse of dark color in one
context, but in another context, the same phrase has a different meaning = a person that is hiding his
qualities. Ordinary words may express certain attitudes, but the meaning is more general than in idioms.
Idiomatic meaning is more expressive, more informal. In principle idioms are more or less expressions with
transferred meaning. It may be partially or fully transferred.

Idioms can have the character of:

Metaphor: play possum (hrat sa na mrtveho chrobáka) = it is a certain kind of a metaphor; wet blanket = a
person who spoils any entertainment – also has metaphorical meaning; hit the bottle = regularly drink too
much; a guinea pig = a person used for medical experiments; be no spring chicken; marry money

Metonymy: two heads are better than one = head represents people; have a nose for something = nose
represents the person's certain quality; long in the tooth (= už má svoje roky); all hands on deck (e/b helps)

Personification: go begging (nejde na odbyt); necessity is the mother of invention (bieda najlepší majster;
núdza rozum zobúdza); till the cows come home; every dog has its day (e/o has good luck); pigs might fly

Hyperbole or absurdity: he moves heaven and earth; a storm in a teacup (búrka v pohári vody); it rains cats
and dogs; cost the earth; be all the world to s/b; be worlds apart

Irony: a pretty/nice cattle of fish (poriadne tažkosti), to need something like a hole in the head (for more
examples, see emotionally colored idioms).

On the whole, idioms are usually concerned with general rather than specific meaning as they express
opinions, evaluations rather than factual meaning. Idioms have stronger expressive value (emotional coloring)
than their non-idiomatic counterparts, which are usually neutral. Since the degree of opacity/transparency of
idioms varies, and they differ in degree of motivation, we distinguish the following groups:

Opaque Idioms or pure idioms: we can't at all guess the meaning, we can't find any motivation in
individual words e.g. hook, line, and sinker; spill the beans; shoot the breeze; hair of the dog that bit
; lock, stock, and barrel
; blow the gaff; break a leg
; pink elephants

Alcohol that you drink in order to make you feel better when you have drunk too much alcohol the night before
Including everything
Used to wish s/b good luck
Drunken hallucinations

Semi-opaque Idioms (figurative idioms): there is some connection between the meaning of the
whole and the literal sense of their individual constituents i.e. we can guess the meaning e.g. behind
closed door (tajne); add fuel to the fire; pack one’s bags; bring s/b to his knees; child’s play

Semi-idioms: at least one word is used in direct meaning, the rest is transferred e.g. fair-weather
friend (kamarát iba na dobré casy); it rains cats and dogs; fill the bill (hodit sa); foot the bill (= pay the
bill); white lie; dirty money; teething problems
. This is a problematic group because some people
consider these idioms to be restricted collocations, not idioms.

Certain idioms have more or less transparent meaning, but have a special connotation e.g. he is as white
as a sheet doesn't mean that he is white or pale only, but also that he is either ill or afraid; or at least these
types of idioms are used as a certain emphasis e.g. as black as night (very black). Certain expressions
remind us of gestures of human body e.g. shake one's head (nesúhlasit), shrug one's shoulders = these are
so-called body-gesture idioms.


If we compare idioms with words, in English majority of words are polysemous (polysemantic) = they have
more than one meaning. We can find also the same situation among idioms, but there are not so many
polysemous idioms. Examples:

take care = to look after somebody; take care of something; to kill
tread water = to keep yourself vertical in deep water by moving your arms and legs; make no
progress while you are waiting for s/t to happen
in force = in large numbers (v plnej sile); valid
make good = to become rich and successful; compensate, repair, restore; complete
go for a Burton = be killed; be destroyed, ruined
on the run = escaping; busy
on the spot = immediately; actually present; in trouble

Sometimes in English it is very difficult to tell the difference between polysemous idioms and homonymy (two
idioms differing in meaning but having the same form of expression) e.g. make hay = take advantage (from
make hay while the sun shines), make hay = make a mess.

To be very easy to do, so not even a child would find it difficult
Small problems that a company, product, system, etc. has at the beginning

Semantic and formal relations and grouping of idioms

Relations among idioms may be based either on the form (formal relations) or the content (semantic relations)


Semantic relations: idioms which we compare have similar or opposite meaning.

Are groups of idioms which have similar general meaning e.g. death (go to Abraham's bosom; pass through
the early gate) power, fear (have cold feet; to tremble as an aspen leaf), anger (to see red; to be as black as a
thunderclap; as mad as a hatter; fly off the handle; go ape; be hot under the collar; make somebody blood-boil,
see the red light; shake ones fist;) money (be on the breadline
; live in the lap of luxury; spend money like
; tighten your belt; make a killing
; be a money spinner
) usually within this fields we can speak about:

Synonyms: when they have the same or very close denotative meaning e.g. tit for tat = an eye for an
eye; for my money = in my book
; this is a child's play = this is a kid's play = this is a small beer
Proverbs / sayings: no pain no gain = no bees no honey / no work no money; like question like answer
= as the call so the echo; praise day at night = don't count your chickens before they are hatched; as
you sow so you reap = as you make your bed so you must lie on it.

Antonyms: antonyms are expressions with opposite meaning. E.g. small fish – big fish; small beer –
big onion, big wheel, big gun; eat like a horse – eat like a bird; in cold blood
– in hot blood; Proverbs
/ sayings: absence makes the heart go fonder – out of sight out of mind; to lose one's head – keep
one's head; too many cooks spoil the broth - many hands make light work; birds of a feather flock
together – opposites attract; there's no place like home – the grass is always greener on the other side;
better safe than sorry – nothing ventured nothing gained; where there's a will there's a way – man
proposes God disposes

The difference between synonyms and variants: synonymous idioms are when they have different symbolism,
different imagery e.g. small beer and small fish are synonyms; final straw and last straw are variants because
there is no different symbolism; big gun and big fish are synonyms, because there is different symbolism.

Be very poor
Spend too much, often without thinking about it
Earn a lot of money very easily
Be a successful way of making money
Used when you are giving your opinion
A person or thing that has no great importance or value, especially when compared with s/b / s/t else
Acting in a way that is deliberately cruel; with no pity


Formally idioms may be grouped according to the similarities of their forms of expression, the use of the
same formal component, or identicalness of the structure. Here we speak about:

Homonymy: idioms have the same form; there are only very few homonymous idioms e.g. make hay
(while the sun shines) – make hay (znicit, rozdrvit); to be on the up and up = AmE: honest; BrE:
successful; a closed book (s/t finished) – a closed book (s/t unknown)

Paronyms: idioms that are similar but have different meaning (=idiomatic false friends) e.g. lose one's
heart (the meaning is to fall in love) – lose heart (lose courage); lose one's nerve (fall in love) – lose
one's nerves (stratit nervy), beat the bushes (try very hard to get/achieve s/t) – beat around the bush
(avoid a direct answer)

Clustering: different idioms but all of them have one common word e.g. red tape – be in the red
see red
– a red rag to a bull
– all are different idioms, but have the same word 'red'; give
somebody green light – have green fingers – as green as grass – be green with envy; 'hand' – at first
, close at hand
, from hand to mouth
, have the upper hand
, go hand in hand, hand over
, lend a hand
, out of hand
; 'money': be in the money; for my money
; on the money
; put your
money where your mouth is
; have money to burn

Frames: idioms which have regardless of their meaning the same structure e.g. in + noun (with or
without particle): in short, in a pinch
, in a nut shell
, in a stew
, in a word; verb + definite article +
noun: hit the jackpot, hit the sack / hay (go to bed), hit the road, hit the deck (fall to the ground).

To owe money to your bank because you have spent more than you have in your account
To become very angry
S/t that is likely to make s/b very angry
By experiencing, seeing, etc. s/t yourself rather than being told about it by s/b else
Near; in a place where s/b / s/t can be reached easily
To spend all the money you earn on basic needs such as food without being able to save any money
To get an advantage over s/b so that you are in control of a particular situation
Very fast and in large quantities
To help s/b
Difficult or impossible to control
In my opinion
Correct, accurate
To invest money in a business or a particular project
To have so much money that you don't have to be careful with it
Used to say that s/t could be done or used in a particular situation if it is really necessary
In a very clear way, using few words
Very anxious or upset

Function of idioms

Idioms play different roles – name objects, actions, and describe situations and emotions (anger, love, hate).
They may express advice, evaluation, truth, etc. Idioms are used in everyday conversation, public speeches,
newspapers, etc. They are used less frequently than words. From the point of the functions of idioms, we can
speak roughly about:

Nominative function = names objects, states, processes, actions, qualities (as cool as cucumber,
body and soul
, white elephant
, pull s/b’s leg,
dark horse
). These idioms have always the form of
a phrase.
Communicative function = describes situations and expresses independent statements; they have
sentence-structure (all that glitters is not gold; make hay while the sun shines; the coast is clear)
Combination of both = idioms with mixed structure (break the ice – the ice is broken; lead s/b by the
nose – s/b is led by the nose; close the door on – the door is closed; to pull somebody’s leg – his leg
was pulled)
Without nominative or communicative function = here we speak about two groups: 1. Modal =
idioms that express feelings, attitudes and states of mind (like hell, what on earth) 2. Combinatory/
cohesive = idioms used to combine or link sentences (on the other hand; as well as; in order to)

From the point of equivalency of idioms in relation to words there are:

One-word equivalents (they may be replaced by a single word): of course = certainly; kick the
bucket = die; in the family way = pregnant; for keeps = permanently; at a single glance = immediately
Group of words, collocations (=syntagmas, phrases): a big fish = an important person; as red as a
turkey cock = very angry; cross s/b’s path = meet by chance; as pretty as picture = very pretty; as
right as rain = very healthy; on the market = available for sale; donkey's years = a very long time
Descriptions: have green fingers = have natural ability in growing plants; smell a rat = to feel that
something is wrong; the hair of the dog that bit you = an alcoholic drink taken in the morning in order
to help cure the unpleasant effects of drinking too much alcohol the night before.

Nominative idioms correlate with word classes and may carry word class labels. These are sometimes called
idiomatic or phraseological classes. They may be divided into: noun (the black sheep; a piece of cake; a
tower of strength; a queer fish
), verbal (smell a rat; live hand to mouth; catch s/b's eye; look the other way; call
s/b names), adjectival (as right as rain), adverbial (once in a blue moon), prepositional (in order to).

With all your energy
A thing that is useless and no longer needed, although it may have cost a lot of money
To play a joke on s/b, usually by making them believe s/t that is not true
Neocakávaný favorit; cierny kôn
A person who is slightly strange or crazy

Usage and currency of idioms


Frequency restrictions: The extent of the currency (current and out-of-date idioms) is shown by their
frequency. In comparison with words, the frequency of idioms is lower; they are used only on special
occasions. The most frequent idioms are minimal idioms. The least frequent idioms are proverbs and sayings.

Time restrictions: some idioms are considered to be old-fashioned e.g. be in Dutch; baker’s dozen; what’s
sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander; glad rags (=sviatocné háby). There are also some idioms that are
newly created e.g. snail mail (=traditional mail), golden parachute, golden handshake, golden hello, to move the
goal post (=menit pravidlá pocas hry), to think outside the box, to nail jelly to the wall (naberat vodu sitom), to
have a blond moment, to have a senile moment, to have a bad-hair day. There are also clichés = the frequent
overuse of certain “fashionable” idioms in certain periods, especially in mass media, often causes them to be
considered to be clichés e.g. burning question
, accidents will happen
, captains of industry

Formality: most idioms are used in informal contexts (have a go at
, feel like a million dollars
) or very
informal situations (shut your mouth, have it off with
, full of crap), they are often suitable only in conversation
with friends. A smaller number of idioms occur in formal contexts, such as official writings (null and void
, act
and deed
). The degree of formality may differ also in individual variants of the same idiom, e.g. beat one’s
is more formal than beat one’s chest. These stylistic connotations are:

Informal idioms: catch some rays, no way José, be my guest, full of beans
, be on the game
, bad
hair day
, be on the make
, give s/b a buzz
, a basket case

Very informal: get stuffed, be on the piss
, take a leak (=to pee); not give a monkey’s

A burning question is one that somebody is "dying" to ask
Things sometimes go wrong, despite our best efforts
Was a term originally used in the UK during the Industrial Revolution describing a business leader whose means of amassing
a personal fortune contributes positively to the country in some way.
Give it a try
To feel well and healthy, both physically and mentally
To have sex with s/b
Having no legal force
Show that you know that you have done s/t wrong and are sorry for this
Having a lot of energy
To be a prostitute
A day on which everything seems to go wrong
Trying to get money or an advantage for yourself
To telephone s/b
A person who is slightly crazy and who has problems dealing with situations

Formal idioms: make so bold
, how do you do, fall prey to
, a man of the cloth
, act and deed, null
and void
, in concert with
, take your leave
, on / under oath, in / with reference to

Literary idioms: plough a lonely furrow
, the land of milk & honey
, gird up one’s lion
, cut the
Gordian knot
, lose one’s heart; many moons ago
Old fashioned idioms: old maid, bib and tucker
, give up the ghost
, not on your Nelly
, baker's
dozen, be s/b's pigeon

Foreign idioms: lingua franca, faux pas, mea culpa, in flagrante, persona non grata

The emotionally colored idioms express different attitudes and degrees of emotions:
Pejorative/Derogatory idioms: idioms with negative connotation: fat cat
, snake in the grass
mutton dressed as lamb
, wet behind the ears
, bag lady
, old maid, with one’s nose in the air

Vulgar/Taboo idioms: they are offensive, not appropriate to use in polite situations: shut your mouth,
up the shit creek, go ape-shit (=get angry), son of a bitch, what the fuck, stick s/t up your ass
Humorous idioms: have a bun in the oven
, what’s your poison?, Pardon my French, as snug as a
bug in a rug
, be no spring chicken, powder one’s nose
Ironic idioms: a fine kettle fish
, big deal
, clear as mud
, God’s gift to s/b
, pigs might fly
, need
s/t like a hole in the head (=not to need at all),

To be out at a pub, club, etc. and drinking a large amount of alcohol
Used to say, in a way that is not very polite, that you do not care about s/t, or are not at all interested in it
Used especially when politely asking a question or making a suggestion which you hope will not offend anyone (although it
may criticize them slightly): If I may be so bold as to suggest that he made a mistake
To be harmed or affected by s/t bad
A religious man, especially a priest
Anulovat, zrušit
V spolupráci s...
Say goodbye
Talking or writing about…
To do things that other people do not do, or be interested in things that other people are not interested in
A place where life is pleasant and easy and people are very happy
To prepare for action
To solve a problem by taking action
Your best clothes that you only wear on special occasions
(of a machine) to stop working
Not on your life
Be s/b's responsibility or business
A person who earns, or who has, a lot of money
A person who pretends to be your friend but who cannot be trusted
Used to describe a woman who is trying to look younger than she really is
Young and without much experience, tecie mu mlieko po brade
A woman who has no home and who walks around carrying her possessions with her
In a way that is unfriendly and suggests that you think that you are better than other people
To be pregnant
To feel very comfortable and warm because you are in bed or under a cover

Euphemistic idioms: be economical with truth
, spend a penny
, be in the family way, not all there
sweet Fanny Adams

Idioms may be restricted also in relation to genre i.e. some are used only in one genre, e.g. in newspapers
(journalisms), fiction, drama, or other literary writings (litmus test
, halcyon days

Exploitation of idioms occurs in mass media and fiction, especially in satiric and humoristic works. Here
idioms undergo different changes as the result of stylistic manipulation of lexical components. This
manipulation is based on playing with double meaning: literal meaning of individual words and figurative
meaning of the whole. Native speakers deliberately change the established expressions by adding or
replacing words, changing word-order, cutting off or paraphrasing some parts of the original idiom. All these
changes are based on the fact that the receiver knows the original established idiom.

Types of non-institutionalized variations
From linguistic point of view we can speak about:

1. Lexical changes: words are omitted, substituted: keep the ball rolling (udržat nieco v chode) →
variation: He kept the traffic rolling.
2. Grammatical changes: idiom is changed from standardized / fixed form and used in unusual form:
have an axe to grind (starat sa o svoje záujmy, prihrievat si svoju polievocku) → What axe is he
grinding?; change from verbal idiom to noun idiom: to grin like a Cheshire cat (smiat sa od ucha k
uchu) → Cheshire cat’s grin = non-standard change, we cannot find it in a dictionary

Completeness of idioms / Formal structure: we can find partial change or change of the whole idiom:
Partially changed: keep the ball rolling → keep the traffic rolling; to be born with a silver spoon in
one’s mouth → be born with a golden spoon in one’s mouth
Completely / Fully changed: to buy a pig in a poke (kupovat macku vo vreci) – "if I pay 150 guineas
for poke I’m entitled to the pig I find in it"

A troublesome situation
Used to say that you are not impressed by s/t
Not clear at all
A person who thinks that they are particularly good at s/t or thinks that s/b will find them attractive
Used to show that you do not believe s/t will ever happen
A way of saying that s/b has left out some important facts, when you do not want to say that they are lying
People say ‘spend a penny’ to avoid saying ‘use the toilet’
Not very intelligent, especially because of mental illness
People say ‘sweet FA’ to avoid saying ‘fuck all’
A way of deciding whether s/t is successful or true
Are the seven days in winter when storms never occur

Semantic aspect: when we change the meaning (completely or partially): a wolf in a sheep’s clothing →
variation: a sheep in wolf’s clothing; a little bird told me (povráva sa) → “How did you know?” “A little bird.”
Stylistic aspect: the sentence becomes stylistically marked: as cool as a cucumber (nic ho nerozhodí) →
he’s as cool as a goddamn cucumber.

Sometimes idioms are used in original form but in a strange / unusual context: be down in the mouth (mat zlú
náladu) → “How did Jonah feel when the whale swallowed him?” “Down in the mouth.”; drop a line → “Do
you think it is possible to communicate with fish?” “Yes, you might try to drop them a line.”

Among the most frequent non-institutionalized (non-standard) variations of idioms are:

Addition = insertion of one or more new elements, frequently a modifier or attributive additions e.g.
be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth
- having not been born with a silver espionage spoon in
our mouth; go through the motions
- that way they could go through the frozen motions; everything in
the garden is lovely
– everything in the martial garden is rather less lovely; as white as chalk – as
white as a piece of chalk; be out of one’s head – you are out of your goddamned head.

Substitution = replacement of one or more components, while the structure of the original idiom
remains the same e.g. a wolf in sheep’s clothing – a wolf in spinster’s clothing; ships that pass in the
night – ships that passed in the hall; come hell or high water – come hell or strawberries. Substitution =
proper innovation – by changing a word it may change the meaning: to have a sweet tooth = mat
maškrtný jazyk v. to have a sweet tongue = talk nicely

Separation = the splitting of idioms into parts within the same or within more sentences e.g. back to
square one
- They had been told to go back to the beginning and that’s exactly where they were.
Square one.; don’t wash your dirty linen in public – That’s our dirty linen. We won’t wash it in public;
quick as lightning - Is my tongue quick? As lightning.; alive and kicking – Is Peter alive? Yes, and

Deletion = cutting off / omission of a certain number of lexical components; reduction of some part.
E.g. don’t look a gift horse in the mouth – never look a gift horse, right?; cross the bridge when you
come to it
- try not cross the bridges – you don’t know what’s going to happen. Shortening of idioms
may lead to their transformation or even their complete disintegration. In the following cases the
deletion resulted in transformation of verbal idioms into noun phrases: rub salt in s/b’s wound – the

Having rich parents
To do or say s/t because you have to, not because you really want to
Everything is fine
Return to the situation you were in at the beginning of a project, task, etc., because you have made no real progress
You will not worry about a possible problem but will deal with it if it happens

sound was like salt in a wound; turn a new leaf – today is the first of your new leaf; be tied to his
mother’s apron strings – the apron strings had long been cut.

Blending = combination of two idioms e.g. out of the frying pan into the fire
+ it’s no use crying over
split milk = out of the frying pan into the split milk; have s/t up one’s sleeve + s/b’s bag of tricks = if you
have a dirty little bag of tricks up your sleeve; have an old head on young shoulders + have one’s head
screwed on the right way
= Tom’s got his head screwed on his shoulders the right way, and he’s a lot
older than you; like father, like son + like mother like daughter = Like father, like daughter

Complete disintegration = decomposition of the whole idiom and its structure, when only some
remaining components of the idiom are used as allusion e.g. put the cart before the horse
– you’re
getting the cart and horse all mixed up; There’s many a slip between the cup and lip
- you’ve heard
about cups and lips and slips.

Multiple variation of idioms = the occurrence of more than one change: have one foot in a grave –
John Major has both feet in the political grave; in two shakes of a lamb’s tail
- I’ll be back in a couple
of shakes / …in two flicks of a dead lamb’s tail (substitution and addition); cut one’s coat according to
one’s cloth
+ s/b has made his bed and he must lie on it = Sometimes it’s easier to cut your coat to fit
the cloth than lie on the bed you’ve made; A Jack of all trades but master of none
- Tinker, a Jack of
all trades but true master of one.

Sometimes originally non-institutionalized variations become in the course of time established idioms or
variants or even become more frequent than the original ones: sit on one’s hands + twiddle one’s thumbs = sit
on one’s thumbs; a drowning man will clutch at a straw – clutch at a straw – clutch at straws; it’s the last straw
which breaks the camel’s back – the last straw – the final straw; you can’t eat your cake and have it – you can’t
have your cake and eat it, too.

From a bad situation into a one that is worse
To be wise
To put or do things in the wrong order
Even when the outcome of an event seems certain, things can still go wrong
A short length of time
To do only what you have enough money to do and no more
A person who can do many different types of work, but who perhaps does not do them very well
To have the advantages of s/t without its disadvantages; to have both things that are available

Geographical variations of idioms

Though majority of English idioms are common to all parts of the English-speaking world, some of them are
limited to particular geographical regions. In general, we can speak about the following types:

Identical idioms = the majority of English idioms are common in all varieties e.g. make up one’s
mind, give s/b a free hand, the coast is clear, the lion’s share
, live from hand to mouth, like a fish out
of water, be in the red, be in the black, etc. Identical idioms may have additional meaning, additional
variant, or may have different frequency and stylistic value. There are cases when an idiom may
have an additional meaning in one variety, e.g. Indian summer means in both varieties 'warm and
sunny weather in autumn'. In British English, however, it is also used to describe 'a happy and
successful period of time especially later in s/b’s life or career'. On the other hand, idiom draw a
has additional meaning in American English – 'to be unable to answer a question'. Some
idioms may be used in both varieties, but one variety has an additional variant or a synonymous
idiom: burn one’s bridges (used in both varieties) and burn one’s boats (only BrE), rub shoulders with
(both) – rub elbows with (AmE), as fit as fiddle (both) – as fit as a flea (BrE).
Different idioms = idioms that are used only in one variety. Idioms used only in American English
are: be all wet
, throw s/b a curve
, right off the bat
, fix s/b’s wagon
, talk blue streak
, be on
the same page
, go south
, lay an egg
, be dime a dozen
, a straight arrow
, out of left field
play hardball
, apples and oranges
, sure thing, be loaded for bear
Only British idioms are: go for a Burton
, be like chalk and cheese
, cut the cackle
, out of the
, chance one’s arm
, in Queer Street
, thick as two planks
, be on a sticky wicket

The largest or best part of s/t when it is divided
To get no response or result
Completely wrong
To move or make s/t move in the shape of a curve
To get revenge on another
To talk very much and very rapidly
If two or more people or groups are on the same page, they agree about what they are trying to achieve
To lose value or quality
To do something bad or poorly
Very common and therefore not valuable
A person who is very honest or who never does anything exciting or different
An opinion or a position that is strange or unusual and a long way from the normal position
Used to refer to a way of behaving, especially in politics, when a person is determined to get what they want
Used to describe a situation in which two people or things are completely different from each other
Lost or destroyed
Completely different from each other
Be quiet

Partially different idioms = in many cases, both British and American varieties of English use
idioms, which differ only in parts, and we can speak about partially different idioms or idiomatic
geographical variants. They may differ in spelling, grammar, or vocabulary:

1. Orthographic/spelling variants = variants differing in spelling e.g.
give somebody a blank
cheque/ check; show one’s true colours/colors; a grey/gray area
2. Grammatical variants = differ by one or more grammatical means such as different number,
article, etc. e.g. At a loose end / at loose ends
; the gift of the gab / the gift of gab
; on second
thoughts / on second thought; come to the boil / come to a boil
; in the light of / in light of

3. Lexical variants = have one or more different (but related) lexical components with the same
imagery and symbolism. Mostly they are nouns: a skeleton in the cupboard/closet; have green
fingers/thumb; the boot/shoe is on the other foot
; right up s/b’s street/alley
. But also verbs:
touch / knock on wood; shut up/ close up shop
, preposition: on/in the cards
; at/in a pinch

Sometimes an idiom or two variants are known / used in both varieties but the preference in varieties is not
the same: be at the end of one’s tether – esp. BrE; be at the end of one’s rope – esp. AmE; beat about the
bush v. beat around the bush. Rarely we also find false friends (inter-variety homonyms. Geographic – variety
homonyms or paronyms) – i.e. formally identical idioms with different meanings in the two varieties: be on the
up and up (BrE: improving, increasing, becoming more successful; AmE: honest, in a hole (= v kaši, BrE) / in
the hole (=financne zle, AmE)

Australian English: Like shag on the rock (alone); be as full as a boot (drunk), come the raw prawn (trick s/o).
Proverbs and sayings: an Englishman's / a man's home is his castle; there's no smoke w/o fire / where there's
smoke there's fire; prevention is better than cure / an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; you live and
learn / live and learn; three times lucky / third time's the charm

Old or old-fashioned
To take a risk although you will probably fail
Being in some difficulty, most commonly financial
Very stupid
A difficult situation
Examples: British English / American English – applies to all examples
Having nothing to do and not knowing what you want to do
The ability to speak easily and to persuade other people with your words
To reach a critical or crucial stage / to get very angry
After considering s/t: He rewrote the book in the light of further research.
A situation has changed - s/b now has power or authority over the person who used to have power or authority over them
Very suitable for you because it is s/t that you know a lot about or are very interested in
To close a business permanently or to stop working for the day
Likely to happen
Used to say that s/t could be done or used in a particular situation if it is really necessary

English and Slovak idioms

The main difficulty when we compare English and Slovak idioms is that idiom has one meaning but more
words. We can compare individual idioms, idioms containing certain word, idioms as a whole. If we compare
English and Slovak idioms, we find out that English idioms may have as the equivalent an idiom e.g. black
sheep = cierna ovca; sometimes there is no equivalent so we use a collocation, combination of words or just
one word instead: blue-eyed boy = milácik; mlynári sa bijú = it is heavily snowing; red-light district = vykricaná
štvrt; there are different types of equivalents.


Absolute equivalents: they are the same in both languages. Absolute equivalents may be divided
into: absolute equivalent proper [=completely the same, there is no change e.g. black sheep, sixth
sense, make bad blood]; similar equivalents [=they have the same symbolism or imagery; most of the
words are the same; there is only a small difference e.g. as pretty as a picture – pekna ako obrazok -
obrázok = small picture; there is no "as" in Slovak; give somebody the green light = dávam niekomu
zelené svetlo; as black as night = cierny ako...; all that glitters is not gold = nie je všetko zlato co sa
blyští = the same, but changed word order]
Relative equivalents: the idioms have the same meaning but the words are not exactly the same.
We can also divide relative equivalents into: relative equivalent proper [completely different
equivalents]: idioms with formally different components e.g. kick the bucket = otrcit kopytá; make hay
while the sun shines = kut železo za horúca; the coast is clear = vzduch je cistý. The second group is
partially different equivalents: different symbolism, but at least one common word e.g. Good Friday =
Velký Piatok; Red-light district = vykricaná štvrt; it rains buckets = leje sa ako z vedra [z krhly]; Indian
summer = babie leto

The difference between similar equivalents and partially different equivalents is that SE have the
same imagery but there is different grammar. In PDE there is different imagery but at least one word
is the same.

Deceptive equivalents: have the same words, but different meaning e.g. lead somebody by the nose
≠ vodit/tahat niekoho za nos = It's a false friend = they have the same words, but the meaning is
different to lead somebody by the nose = omotat si niekoho okolo prsta; vodit niekoho za nos = lead
somebody up the garden path; lose heart ≠ stratit srdce; lose heart = stratit odvahu; lose one's heart =
stratit srdce [zamilovat sa]. Deceptive equivalents containing peronyms: look before you leap ≠ nekric
hop kým nepreskocíš; look before you leap = dva krát meraj a raz rež; nekric hop kým nepreskocíš =
don't halloo till you are out of the wood; blue book ≠ vojenská knižka [modrá knižka]; as green as grass
[somebody inexperienced] ≠ zelený ako tráva [chorý]; hear the grass grow [to exaggerate] ≠ pocut
trávu rást

Only very small number of idioms is absolute equivalents [10%], the rest are relative equivalents and many
English idioms have only a word, explanation, or group of words as their equivalent.

= considering the translation of idioms from the point of view of its actual use. The translation equivalent is
not necessarily identical with the systemic equivalent found in dictionaries. The translation should be
adequate and functionally in agreement with the original text. It may be an idiom, a synonymous word, group
of words or a description. It depends on the possibilities of the target language to fulfill the functions of the
original text. Translation has thus a relatively individual character. It is influenced by the character of the text
(colloquial, formal), translator's competence, his interpretation of the text, traditions, and principles of
translation in the particular language.

Shift = any type of procedure i.e. any text which is different from the original. Translation equivalents are
frequently the result of the functional shifts based on the principle of loss and compensation by other means.
Functional shifts may be of many types. Most frequently we distinguish systemic and individual shifts.

Systemic shifts = consequence of the differences in the language system (grammar and usage). In
most cases they are obligatory. They are determined by a different approach to and classification of
extra-linguistic reality, traditions and usage in the target language, reflected in idioms. Linguistic
shifts: based on differences in the language system. E.g. cast pearls before swine = hádzat perly
sviniam; have something in black and white = mat cierne na bielom; tear one's hair = trhat si vlasy
Thematic (cultural) shifts: based on different extra-linguistic reality, approach, usage, etc. carry coals
to Newcastle = liat vodu do Dunaja; If Saint’s Vitus’s Day be rainy weather, it will rain for thirty days
together (7/15) = Medardova kvapka štyridsat dní kvapká (6/8); Palm Sunday = Kvetna Nedela; Good
Friday = Velky Piatok; take French leave = odist po anglicky
Individual shifts = are based on various subjective factors, such as translator’s interpretation of the
text, knowledge of both languages, etc. They may be positive or negative. Positive shifts: use
compensation or replace the idiom by an idiom with the same meaning. Negative shifts: are based
on the use of deceptive idiomatic equivalents, on misinterpretation, non-idiomatic (literal) translation,
on lack of the original expressive or stylistic connotations, etc: lead s/b by the nose ≠ vodit niekoho za
nos: the original message is different than the message of the translated text.

From the purely idiomatic point of view we can speak also about the zero equivalent (we omit the idiom)
which may be positive, negative, or neutral.


Corpus Linguistics

What is corpus linguistics?
Corpus linguistics is the study of language as expressed in samples or real world texts. It derives the rules by
which a natural language is governed or else relates to another language.

What is a corpus?
A corpus can be defined as a large and principled collection of naturally occurring texts (of both written and
spoken language). They are used to do statistical analysis, checking occurrences or validating linguistic rules.
Corpus analysis can be broadly categorized as consisting of qualitative and quantitative analysis. Qualitative
analysis is a complete, detailed description. No attempt is made to assign frequencies to the linguistic
features which are identified in the data, and rare phenomena receive the same amount of attention as more
frequent phenomena. It recognizes ambiguities in the human language. For example, the word 'red' could be
used in a corpus to signify the color red, or as a political categorization (communism). In a qualitative analysis
both senses or 'red' in the phrase 'the red flag' could be recognized.

The corpus-base analysis and its characteristics: 1. It is empirical, analysing the actual patterns of use in
natural texts 2. It utilizes corpus as the basis for analysis 3. It makes extensive use of computers for analysis
4. It depends on both quantitative and qualitative analytical techniques. Several of the advantages of the
corpus-based approach come from the use of computers. Computers make it possible to identify and analyze
complex patterns of language use, allowing the storage and analysis of a larger database of natural language.
Furthermore, computers provide consistent, reliable analysis.

Language use in association patterns: there are 2 main kinds of research questions that can be
investigated in terms of association patterns: 1. to focus on the use of a linguistic feature – either a lexical
item or a grammatical construction (associations with particular words and grammatical structures) focus
on the characteristics of texts or varieties (registers, dialects, historical periods = non-linguistic associations).

Corpora which are publicly available: British National Corpus, COBUILD called the Bank of English, The
international Corpus of English, Corpus of Contemporary American English, ICAME.


In a quantitative analysis, the emphasis is on the description and classification of corpus data according to a
limited set of criteria i.e. quantitative analysis classifies features and counts them. It allows us to discover
which phenomena are likely to be genuine reflections of the behavior of a language and which are merely
chance occurrences. It gives a precise picture of the frequency and rarity of particular phenomena, and thus
their relative normality or abnormality. E.g. if we wanted to compare the language use patterns for the words
'big' and 'large', we would need to know how many times each word occurs in the corpus, how many different

words commonly co-occur with each of these adjectives (the collocations), and how common each of those
collocations is. These are quantitative measurements.

A crucial part of corpus-based approach is going beyond the quantitative pattern to propose functional
interpretations explaining why the patterns exist. As a result, a large amount of effort in corpus-based studies
is devoted to explaining and exemplifying quantitative patterns. It is not only about collecting and computing
data but primarily about the interpretation.


Lexicology is concerned with the meaning and use of words. Traditionally, lexicological research investigated
the meanings of words and synonyms. In more recent times, such investigations have been extended by the
usage of corpus-based techniques. These techniques in lexicology enable examination of the linguistic and
non-linguistic associations of particular words (i.e. what are the meanings associated with particular words). In
lexicology, corpus helps to:

Identify the most common uses of a word and the frequency of related words
Identify the frequency of different meanings for a given word
Identify the contexts in which words and meanings are most commonly found
Describe the differences between word use in different registers
What words commonly co-occur with a particular word (phrases, collocations)
How are synonymous words used and distributed in different ways

These areas of study are essential for dictionary-making.


Collins COBUILD Advanced Learners: the first corpus-based dictionary. Cambridge Advanced Learner’s
Dictionary: dictionary with an edge. Corpus-based dictionaries provide: prescriptive v. descriptive grammars,
structural analysis (what is possible), generative-transformational approach (what is possible), usage (what is
actually used and how), frequency (general, registers, dialects).

Focuses on the relationship between words and their grammatical environments or between
grammatical structures and their lexical environment.
It is useful in the attempt to distinguish between words or structures that are nearly synonymous in
meaning and shows and compares their preferences for: valency patterns (transitive, intransitive,
copular verbs), clause patterns (SV, SVP, SVA, SVO
), distribution of verbs in particular clause

General notes on style and stylistics

Linguistic Stylistics = the analysis of distinctive expressions in language and the description of their purpose
and effect. It studies communicative and nominate resources of the language system and the principles of
selection and usage of language means for conveying speaker's thoughts and feelings with the aim of
achieving concrete pragmatic results in different communicative situations. The subject of stylistics is the
analysis of the means of realization of the main functions of language (communicative and cognitive) and the
additional function of language which provides effectiveness of speech activity of any person.

Information theory may be regarded as a branch of cybernetic theory of communication by signal.
Communication or exchange of information plays an important role in all phenomena of life. Human society
would be impossible without a continuous exchange of information. Men communicate with one another in
various ways. The most obvious are speech and writing. Human language (natural language) is the most
powerful means of communication: gestures, facial expressions, words, winks, smiles, carving on wood,
drawings, paintings, still or moving pictures, playing musical instruments, singing, dancing, miming. In its most
general sense information is an imprint of the phenomenon on another. Communication is an activity in which
some information is transferred from one system to another by means of some physical embodiment. Every
act of communication has 6 parts:1. Encoding of the message, 2. Its transmission, 3. The realization as a
signal, 4. Channel of receiving and transmitting, 5. Its reception, 6. Its decoding → takto to hovorila v
zimnom semestri, v letnom to bolo trochu inak: 1. encoding the message 2. its transition (realization in the
form of a signal) 3. channel of receiving and transmission 4. Hindrances 5.its reception and decoding.

In terms of information theory language can be regarded as a code. The code consists in making signs. A
sign of the language may be as small as a phoneme and as large as an epic. Where we have a code we
have a choice e.g. we can present the number 5 in quite a number of ways: 6-1, 10:2, a quarter of twenty. Or
a word 'heart' can be written or drawn: ♥. This feature of the language code may be called redundancy.

It is the redundancy of the language code that provides the opportunity of choice. There are two kinds of
information in semantics of the utterance:

Denotative: the main information, does not depend on communication
Connotative: additional information, depends on the act of communication, it is conditioned by the
attitude of the speaker to the subject of speech or to the addressee, it conveys the speaker's
membership of this or that social group, e.g. 'pig' = an animal, a person.


We regard the author-reader system as the information conveying system. Reading is author's conveying
thought to the reader. He encodes the information and sends it to the reader. The information is transformed
by system of images, characters, plot which is encoded by language means and stylistic devices (lexical and
grammatical expressions). The information makes distinctions between ideal channels and hindered channels.
In the first case information is transmitted undistorted. Literature is the channel where hindrances are
inevitable. Social, historic and cultural changes, the text goes through, change the implication of the text.

The reader may be of quite different social, political, educational background. He may have or have no life
experience; that is why the reader decodes the text from his point of view. The reader decodes not only the
factual material but its emotional and aesthetic content, the reader can't be passive when reading, he can
explain the information received, compare it with the information he received earlier and he can form his own
attitude towards the text.


Many stylistic devices are based on the peculiar use of lexical meaning of words. Galperin distinguishes three
types of lexical meaning of words: logical, emotive, and nominal.

Logical meaning (direct, referential): the precise naming of a person, subject or a feature. It may be
primary and secondary e.g. 'arm' = primary meaning is 'part of body', secondary meaning is 'the part
of a chair', or 'the part of a piece of clothing that covers the arm'. Other example: 'head' (part of body
v. head of organization, side of coin, the head of the table)
Emotive meaning: has reference not directly to the things of objective reality but to the feelings and
emotions, to the speaker's evaluation, estimation of things or phenomena. Mainly adjectives and
interjections have emotive meaning. E.g. damn good = terrifying; swell film = top quality of a film;
bloody nice; stunning party = very nice. Also multi-word units such as epithets and idioms have EM.
Nominal meaning: the nouns which have nominal meaning may express a particular idea or a name
of an object and at the same time give a proper name to a person or a thing. E.g. Mr. Know-it-all; Mr.
Shark (a bad man); Snow-white (a good girl). Nouns having nominal meaning are used in literature.
Sometimes a word having nominal meaning becomes a word having logical meaning e.g. Hooligan –
proper surname, later people were called hooligans for their behavior; Mackintosh, Parker pen

Functional stylistic meaning: the additional meaning which points to the belonging of the word to the
definite sphere of speech act or definite style. E.g. house = dome, abode (bookish), cot (poetic), hutch
(colloquial), hole, den, hovel, creep → each of these is a stylistic opposition to 'house' because each of
these words carries an additional information.

Lexical meaning refers the mind to some concrete concept, phenomenon, or thing of objective reality, whether real or
imaginary. Lexical meaning is thus a means by which a word form is made to express a definite concept. On the contrary,
grammatical (structural) meaning refers our mind to relations between words or to some forms of words or constructions bearing
upon their structural functions in the language as a system.

Stylistic syntactic means based on expansion of information

Stylistic means based on expansion are: repetitions - ordinary repetition, patterned repetition (anaphora,
epiphora, anadiplosis, framing, chiasmus), tautology, parallel constructions, and polysyndeton. Repetition has
a specific function: it aims at logical emphasis, an emphasis necessary to fix the attention of the reader in the
key-word of the utterance.

ORDINARY REPETITION occurs in set phrases like "hours upon hours", "miles and miles" etc. with the effect
of intensification. Sentential repetitions may occur in the speech as the markers of the speaker's emotion, as
in: "Don't tell me! I don't want to hear; I don't want to hear what you've come for. I don't want to hear" or "Over
and over I whisper your name, over and over I kiss you again".


ANAPHORA (aa…bcd) consists of repeating a sequence of words at the beginnings of clauses thereby
lending them emphasis e.g. What the hammer? What the chain? In what furnace was thy brain? What the
anvil? What dread grasp dare its deadly terrors clasp?; Sometimes they were too large and sometimes they
were too small; sometimes they were too far from the centre of things and sometimes they were too close;
sometimes they were too expensive and sometimes they wanted too many repairs; sometimes they were too
stuffy and sometimes they were too airy; sometimes they were too dark and sometimes they were too bleak.

EPIPHORA (abcd…dd) is a counterpart of anaphora. It is the repetition of the same word or words at the end
of successive phrases, clauses or sentences. It places the emphasis on the last word in a phrase or
sentence. E.g. "…and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the
earth." "Now this gentleman had a younger brother of still better appearance than himself, who had tried life as a
cornet of dragoons, and found it a bore; and had afterwards tried it in the train of an English minister abroad,
and found it a bore: and had then strolled to Jerusalem, and got bored everywhere.""When I was a child, I spoke
as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child."

ANADIPLOSIS (abbccd – catch repetition) is the repetition of the final element with its expansion i.e. the word
is used at the end of a sentence and then used again at the beginning of the next sentence. E.g. "Fear leads
to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." "I am happy. Happy at least in my way." "This seems to
be the end. The end of the world I know.""Information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, wisdom is not
truth, truth is not beauty, beauty is not love, love is not music and music is the best.

FRAMING (abcda – ring repetition) is the repetition of the first element at the end e.g. "Those kids were
getting it all right, with busted heads and bleeding faces - those kids were getting it." "The king is dead. Long
live the king." "Next time there won't be a next time."


CHIASMUS /kɪˈæzməs/ (abba cddc - cross repetition) is when two or more clauses are related to each other
through a reversal of structures in order to make a larger point. It may be the repetition of grammar, words, or
meaning, e.g. "Down dropped the breeze, the sails dropped down." "As high as we have mounted in delight. In
our dejection do we sink as low." "His jokes were sermons and his sermons jokes." "True, it's a pity. Pity, it's

is the repetition of semantically and grammatically identical synonymic parts in a sentence, e.g. "She smiled a
smile" "to dance a dance" "say it over again once more" "It was a clear starry night and not a cloud was to be
seen" "He was the only survivor. No one else was saved". It is basically saying the same thing twice when it is
not necessary or essential for the entire meaning of a phrase to be repeated.

are the similarity of identical structures in recurrent positions. Full parallelism is the complete identity of
similar structures, word order and grammatical forms e.g. "I told him you were sick, I told him you were
asleep..." "Have I not served you? Have I not thanked you? Have I not helped you?" Partial parallelism is a
deviance from identity of forms, positions etc. in some of the elements of parallel frames, as in "The cock is
crowing, The stream is flowing, The small birds twitter, The lake doth glitter.""It is the mob that labor in your
fields and serve in your houses – that man your navy and recruit your army – that have enabled you to defy all
the world, and can also defy you when neglect and calamity have driven them to despair." Function: various
patterns of parallelism may create antithesis, juxtaposition, comparison etc.

is the repetition of the linking element, such as conjunction or preposition, before each compositional unity as
in: The heavies train, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect.;
the baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram. Function: the repetition of "and" mainly creates the
atmosphere of bustling activity; the repetition of "or" serves either to stress equal importance of enumerated
factors or to emphasize the validity of the indicated phenomenon regardless of its varying denominations by
various parties concerned. Another example: "with the odor of the forest, with the dew and damp of meadows,
with the curling smoke of wigwams, with the rushing of great rivers, with their frequent repetitions." The opposite
of polysyndeton is asyndeton, which is the deliberate avoidance of conjunctions (no work no money).


Stylistic semasiology: EM based on the interaction between the logical
and emotive meanings
of a word

Is based upon the relations of similarity of properties of two corresponding things. Metaphors may be any part
of speech. They may be trite (dead = lost its original imagery due to its extensive usage e.g. seeds of doubts;
computer mouse; foot of the mountain; mouth of the river; a ray of hope, floods of tears) and genuine (fresh,
new, live only in the given text e.g. he holds her with his eyes; dear nature is the kindest mother; you are my
dearest treasure). Metaphors may be prolonged and used in a chain of sentences. E.g. The girl was tall and
slender. She looked like an icicle in her white rain-coat. ... She crossed the road and melted in the afternoon.
Function: it is one of the most powerful devices for creating images.

Is a kind of a metaphor; it provides a thing or a phenomenon with features peculiar of a human being. It has
specific markers: the use of the personal pronouns he and she with reference to lifeless things or to animals
and nature objects which normally should be referred to with it. Bright illustrations of this type can be found in
the novel The old man and the sea. The old man loved the sea, birds, fish, thus he thought about them as
about alive creatures. Another formal device of personification is capitalization of the word which expresses a
personified notion: And his heart is great with a pulse of Fate. Other examples: his hat wept; the wind stripped
him of his cloak. Functions of personification are different. In poetry of the 17
century it was a tribute to
mythological tradition; in poetry and fiction of the 19
and 20
centuries the purpose of personification was to
help visualize the description, to impart dynamic force to it or to reproduce the particular mood of the viewer.

is an expressive means based on some kind of association connecting two concepts, that is, on contiguity i.e.
Metonymy is a figure of speech in which one object is used to refer to another object that is somehow
connected or related to it. E.g. I bought a new Ford (car); the guitar has the flu today (the guitar player); the
crown decided (the king). Most metonymies are contextual and that's why they are genuine. E.g. There came a
woman with emerald eyes and a tall man. The emeralds were smiling. Function: to focus on a feature of a man
that catches the eye. A special kind of metonymy is synecdoche where the part is used for the whole or vice
versa, e.g. all hands on deck = people.

If we compare metaphor and metonymy, both involve the substitution of one term for another. While in metaphor this
substitution is based on similarity, in metonymy the substitution is based on contiguity (association).

Emotive or emotional meaning is purely sensorial and involves human feelings ("scoundrel", "villain", "scum", etc.). As
regards emotive words, one must distinguish between expressing and naming, emotions and feelings. Most often the words
realize these functions simultaneously. The word "villain", for instance, both names and expresses, while the phrase "a mean
person" only names the quality.


Stylistic semasiology
: EM and SD based on the interaction between
and emotive meanings of a word

MEIOSIS /maɪˈoʊsɪs/ (understatement)
is a device serving to underline the insignificance of what we speak about. e.g. It will cost you a pretty penny
(=not a penny); a little town (of New York), a few lights on Broadway; across the pond (the Atlantic Ocean). It is
widely known that understatement is typical of the British manner of speech, in opposition to American
English in which hyperbole seems to prevail.

LITOTES /laɪˈtoʊtiːz/
is a specific form of understatement. It consists of a peculiar use of negative constructions. The negation plus
noun or adjective serves to establish a positive feature in a person or thing e.g. He had not been unhappy all
day; It's not a bad thing = It's a good thing; He is no coward = he is a brave man; don’t do nothing.; he is not
without taste; it troubled him not a little; he found that this was no easy task. Function: It extenuates
qualities of objects or phenomena. It makes statements and judgments sound delicate and diplomatic.
Connotative effects produced by litotes as well as by understatement are varied. It may be a characteristic
instance of an author's generally restrained tone of writing or a way of rendering subtle irony. Litotes is used
in different styles of speech, excluding those which may be called the matter-of-fact styles, like official style
and scientific prose. In poetry it is sometimes used to suggest that language fails to adequately convey the
poet's feelings and he uses negation to express the inexpressible.

HYPERBOLE /haɪˈpɜːrbəli/ (overstatement)
is a deliberate overstatement or exaggeration the aim of which is to intensify one of the features of an object
or person to such a degree that it becomes absurd. Hyperbole as the word itself suggests is an expression of
an idea in an exceedingly exaggerate language: e.g. to be scared to death, haven't seen you for ages, I've said
it 100 times; O, fifteen thousand stairs!; I'd cross the world to find you; she told me an ocean of words. Function:
Supra-average cases of overstatement are characteristic of an obviously emotional manner of representation.

is an attributive characterization of a person, thing or phenomenon. It is, as a rule, simple in form. There are
also the so-called conventional (standing) epithets, a sort of literary clichés. They mostly occur in folklore or in
the works of individual writers based on or imitating folklore: my true love, merry old England, wide world,
devoted friend etc.

Stylistic semasiology: branch of linguistics which studies semantics or meaning of linguistic units belonging to different
language levels.
Functional-stylistic meaning (“girl”, “maiden”, “skirt”) is associated with the permanent use of the word in definite spheres of
communication or situations.
Oslabit, zmenšit

Epithets may be classified from different standpoints: semantic and structural. Semantically epithets may be
divided into two groups: Associated epithets (underline the semantic features of the object): dark forest,
fantastic terrors, fair England, salt seas; dreary midnight; careful attention. Un-associated epithets are attributes
used to characterize the object by adding a feature not inherent in, that is, unexpected to the reader: heart-
burning smile, voiceless sands; bootless cries; sullen earth. There are also fixed epithets in which the noun
and the epithet sometimes build a specific unit: true love, dark forest, green wood, good ship, brave cavaliers.

Structurally, epithets can be viewed from the angle of their composition and distribution. From the point of
view of their compositional structure, epithets may be divided into:

Simple: ordinary one word epithets /adjective or adverb/ modifying respectively nouns or verbs e.g. Happiness
for him had a feminine shape; The glow of angry sunset
Compound: formed by compound adjectives e.g. wild-looking fellows; heart-burning sigh; bird-like figures;
curly-headed good-for-nothing; mischief-making monkey
Phrase: phrase epithets are always placed before nouns; they usually have the form of of-phrase e.g. spirit of
modesty; a brute of man or are hyphenated e.g. do-it-yourself attitude; I-told-you-so look; she was standing
there with what-are-we-going-to-do expression.
Reversed: composed of two nouns linked by an of-phrase where the attributive relation between the members
of the combination shows that the stylistic device is an epithet e.g. a thick figure of a man; the shadow of a
smile; a little Flying Dutchman of a cab; a devil of a job; a military abbreviation of a smile.

Function: Epithets on the whole show purely individual emotional attitude of the speaker towards the object
spoken of. It does not define a property of the object spoken of, it describes the object as it appears to the

is a kind of antithesis; it is also based upon a contrast between two words. But contrary to the antithesis
where contrastive words are contra-posed (in parallel constructions), in the oxymoron contrastive words may
be juxtaposed as modifier and modified, e.g. awfully nice, mightily small; the sweetness of pain; sweet sorrow;
a glad terror; wordy silence; low skyscraper; pleasantly ugly face. Function: they help to reveal the inner
contradictions that underline objective phenomena; they are considered to be a special form of a paradox.


Expressive means and lexico-syntactical SD

CLIMAX (gradation)
is a unit of speech based on the recurrence of a certain syntactic pattern. In each recurrent sequence the
lexical unit is either emotionally stronger of logically more important (words and phrases are arranged in order
of increasing importance) E.g. Walls – palaces – half-cities have been reared; he was lost, broken, dead; little
by little, bit by bit, day by day, year by year. Function: It is used to show the relative importance of things as
seen by the author or to impress upon the reader the significance of the things described by suggested
comparison, or to depict phenomena dynamically.

ANTICLIMAX (bathos BrE /ˈbeɪθɒs/ AmE / beɪθɑːs/)
is the opposite of climax. In this figure of speech emotion or logical importance accumulates only to be
unexpectedly broken and brought down. There is a sudden drop from the serious to the ridiculous. The
sudden reversal usually brings forth a humorous or ironic effect, as in the following: Some books are to be
tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; he lost his family, his car and his cell
phone; He has seen the ravages of war, he has known natural catastrophes, he has been to singles bars.

ANTITHESIS /ænˈtɪθəsɪs/
is used to find points of sharp contrast to set one feature against the other, to characterize a thing or a
person from a specific point of view. E.g.: youth is lovely, age is lonely. / youth is fiery, age is frosty; many are
called but few are chosen; man proposes God disposes;
too black for heaven, and yet too white for hell; a
saint abroad and a devil at home; better to reign in hell than serve in heaven. Function: the purpose of using
this device is to demonstrate the contradictory nature of the referent, to give opposite characteristics of the

can be defined as a device based upon an analogy between two things which are discovered to possess
some feature in common otherwise being entirely dissimilar (i.e. it compares two different things). For
instance, darkness when once it fell, fell like a stone" is based on the discovered similarity between "darkness"
and "stone" the latter suggesting suddenness, quickness and danger of the fallen darkness. The formal
elements of a simile are: 1) a pair of objects (e.g. darkness + stone) 2) a connective (like, as, as if, as though,
such as, etc.). Not only conjunctions and adverbs but notional words (nouns, verbs, prepositional phrases) as
well as affixes (suffixes -wise, -like) and comma – the substitute of a conjunction – can have the function of a
connective in a simile; e.g. She seemed nothing more than a doll. / …when the countryside seems to fail… →
this is an example of simile which is half a metaphor. Indeed, if we drop the word 'seems' and say the
countryside fails it becomes a metaphor. Function: intensification of some feature; similes forcibly set one

Man proposes God disposes = human beings can make any plans they want, but it's God that decides their success or

object against another regardless of the fact that they may be completely alien to each other. And without our
being aware of it, the simile gives rise to a new understanding of the object characterizing as well as the
object characterized.

is a unit of speech which both names and describes. We speak of a periphrasis when we have the name of a
person or a thing substituted by a descriptive phrase instead of a shorter expression e.g. the better (fair) sex –
women, man in the street – an ordinary person, country of bolero, corridor and flamenco = Spain, etc. Logical
periphrasis is based on one of the inherent properties or perhaps a passing feature of the object described,
as in instruments of destruction – pistols, black gold – petrol, fair sex – women, the most pardonable of human
weaknesses - love Euphemistic periphrasis stands as a substitute for a concept or thing which the author
finds too unpleasant or is too reticent to name directly e.g. to see the better world, to join the majority (to die),
lady's room, water closet (lavatory); Figurative periphrasis is represented by a metonymy or a metaphor. E.g.
His studio is probably full of the mute evidences of his failure where "mute evidences of his failure" stands for
"paintings"; to tie the knot – to get married. Periphrases, as all the other tropes, can be divided into original
creations of individual authors (see examples above) and trite ones many of which have become part of the
general lexicon: the seven-hilled city (Rome); organs of vision (eyes); the language of Racine
(the French
language). Function: It conveys the author's subjective perception, thus illuminating the described entity with
the new, added light and understanding.

Are words of different form, with almost identical or similar meaning. Or, to put it differently, words with close
(nearly the same) denotations, but different connotations. They can be divided into: synonyms-substitutes:
words used to denote the mentioned object, action or phenomenon and supplementing the given object in
some new aspect. They give new additional details, which helps to avoid monotonous repetition e.g. There,
on the table, lay a number of parcels. Presents... gifts... (synonyms-substitutes are words which have the
same meaning) Synonyms-specifiers – this SD consists in using of two or more synonyms usually following
one another to express one and the same or similar meaning. Such synonyms are used for a better and more
detailed description of an object or person, when every other synonym adds new information about it. These
synonyms are very close in their meaning, but are different in stylistic coloring e.g. Her answer came quick
and sharp. Function: they are used for a better and more detailed description of a thing or object. They make
the utterance more informative and expressive.

Jean Racine = French dramatist

Phonetic expressive means and stylistic devices

Is intended repetition of the similar vowels in a close succession for sound and content organization of the
utterance: on a proud round cloud in white high night; And the moon rose over an open field; Do you like
blue?; in the middle of little Italy.

Aims at imparting a melodic effect to the utterance. It is the repetition of similar sounds, in particular
consonant sounds, in close succession, particularly at the beginning of successive words. E.g. the lazy lady
lies alone; Alice's aunt ate apples; some mammals are clammy. Alliteration, like most phonetic expressive
means, does not bare any lexical or other meaning unless we agree that a sound meaning exists as such.
But even so we may not be able to specify clearly the character of this meaning, and the term will merely
suggest that a certain amount of information is contained in the repetition of sounds, as is the case with the
repetition of lexical units.

Is a combination of speech sounds which aims at imitating sounds produced in nature (wind, sea, thunder,
etc), by things (machines or tools), by people (sighing, laughter, patter of feet, etc.) and by animals.
Combinations of speech sounds of this type will inevitably be associated with whatever produces the natural
sound. Therefore, the relation between onomatopoeia and the phenomenon it is supposed to represent is one
of metonymy. There are two varieties of onomatopoeia: direct onomatopoeia is contained in words that imitate
natural sounds, as ding-dong, buzz, bang, cuckoo, tintinnabulation, mew, ping-pong (A ding-dong struggle, a
ding-dong go at something). These words have different degrees of imitative quality. Some of them
immediately bring to mind whatever it is that produces the sound. Others require the exercise of a certain
amount of imagination to decipher it. Onomatopoetic words can be used in a transferred meaning, as for
instance, ding-dong, which represents the sound of bells rung continuously, may mean: noisy; strenuously
contested. Indirect onomatopoeia is a combination of sounds the aim of which is to make the sound of the
utterance as an echo of its sense. It is sometimes called "echo-writing" e.g. And the silken, sad, uncertain
rustling of each purple curtain where the repetition of the sound [s] actually produces the sound of the rustling
of the curtain.

Is a flow, movement procedure, etc. characterized by basically regular recurrence of elements or features, as
beat, or accent, in alternation with opposite or different elements or feature (i.e. rhythm refers to the length of
time between each major beat and is derived from the patterns of stress in words or utterances). Rhythm is
primarily a periodicity, which requires specification as to the type of periodicity. Rhythm is the main factor
which brings order into the utterance.

Is a repetition of identical or similar terminal sound combinations of words. Rhyming words are generally
placed at a regular distance from each other. In verse they are usually placed at the end of the corresponding
lines. Identity and particularly similarity of sound combinations may be relative. For instance, we distinguish
between full rhymes and incomplete rhymes. The full rhyme presupposes identity of the vowel sound and the
following consonant sounds in a stressed syllable, as in might, right; needless, heedless. When there is
identity of the stressed syllable, including the initial consonant of the second syllable (in polysyllabic words),
we have exact or identical rhymes. Incomplete rhymes present a greater variety. They can be divided into two
main groups: vowel rhymes and consonant rhymes. In vowel rhymes the vowels of the syllables in
corresponding words are identical, but the consonants may be different, as in flesh-fresh-press. Consonant
rhymes, on the contrary, show concordance in consonants and disparity in vowels, as in worth-forth; tale-
tool-Treble-trouble; flung-long. According to the way the rhymes are arranged within the stanza, certain
models have crystallized, for instance:

1. couplets – when the last words of two successive lines are rhymed. This is commonly marked aa.
2. triple rhymes – aaa
3. cross rhymes – abab
4. framing or ring rhymes – abba

There is still another variety of rhyme which is called internal rhyme. The rhyming words are placed not at the
ends of the lines (end rhyme) but within the line, as in: I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers; Once
upon a midnight dreary while I pondered weak and weary. Internal rhyme breaks the line into two distinct parts,
at the same time more strongly consolidating the ideas expressed in these two parts. Thus rhyme may be
said to possess two seemingly contradictory functions: dissevering, on the one hand, and consolidating, on
the other. As in many stylistic devices, these two functions of rhyme are realized simultaneously in a greater
or lesser degree depending on the distribution of the rhymes. In aa rhymes the consolidating function is rather
conspicuous. In aabaab rhymes the rhyming words bb may not immediately reveal their consolidating
function. The dissevering function of internal rhyme makes itself felt in a distinctive pause, which is a natural
result of the longer line. This quality of internal rhyme may be regarded as a leading one. The distinctive
function of rhyme is particularly felt when it occurs unexpectedly in ordinary speech or in prose. The listener’s
attention is caught by the rhyme and he may lose the thread of the discourse.


Fundamentals of decoding stylistics
Decoding stylistics sees the text as a source of impressions for the reader. It is a theory of text interpretation
and it deepens and widens the reader's knowledge of language and literature, his aesthetic taste. In this kind
of stylistic analysis, we shall be concerned with the message and not with the individual style of the author.

Is the practice of making something stand out from the surrounding words or images i.e. it gives artistic
emphasis to meanings to bring them to the foreground. It focuses the reader's attention to some elements of
the contents of the message and establishes meaningful relations between juxtaposed or distant elements of
the same or different levels and the text as a whole. Under the general heading of foregrounding we include
the following: coupling, convergence, defeated expectancy, semantic repetition, salient feature, textual strong
positions. They embrace the stylistic effect and memorability.

Is a semantically relevant appearance of equivalent elements in equivalent positions in the text – repetitions,
parallel constructions, synonyms, rhymes. It provides the cohesion, consistency and the unity of the text. The
possibilities of coupling are almost unlimited. Many proverbs are structured by means of coupling. E.g.: Lend
your money and lose your friend – there is an equivalence in syntactic positions and equivalence of elements
lexical and phonetic – there are many forms emphasizing the similarity and the contrast. Other example: In for
a penny, in for a pound. Coupling has many points of similarity with parallelism but parallelism is above all
associated with syntactic repetition and in coupling, other types of positional equivalence are also possible.

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

1. Rhymes
2. Anaphora
3. Synonyms which occupy the same notions
4. Catch repetition – anadiplosis

Is when some element of the text receives prominence due to an interruption in the pattern of predictability.
An unexpected change may be created due to some combination of extra regularity and extra irregularity. The
low predictability elements disturb the pattern which the reader has been conditioned to expect. This causes a
temporary sense of disorientation compelling the reader’s attention. Defeated expectancy is mostly

characteristic of humor and satire: A drunken G.I. (Government Issue – an American soldier nick-name) shouts
to his companion: "I cannot take another minute of it! The Army is brutal, dehumanized and full of morons. It's
time something was done. When I get back to the barracks, I'll write my mother about it". Another example may
be provided by Oscar Wilde: he perfectly illustrates how predictability of the structure plays a joke on the
speaker who cannot free himself from the grip of the syntactical composition: Miss Fairfax, ever since I met
you I have admired you more than any girl... I have met... since I met you. Defeated expectancy in While the
Auto Waits: the reader expects the girl to be a rich lady and the boy to be a poor guy. However, at the end
he realizes that it is vice versa. In There Will Come Soft Rains defeated expectancy is employed in the title
where the reader expects the story to be a romantic tale, however the epithet "soft rains" means "radioactive

In convergence several stylistic devices converge to produce one striking effect, to create one image or to
fulfill some other function together. It is the combination of stylistic devices promoting the same idea,
emotion, or motive. For example, in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:

"His cheeks were aflame, his body was aglow, his limbs were trembling. On and on and on he strode far out
over the sands singing wildly to the sea, crying to greet the life that had cried to him" – this is a convergence of
parallel construction, asyndeton, anaphora, polysyndeton, ordinary repetition and synonyms.

Salient feature is the prominent, most noticeable feature of the text. Salient feature proves a suitable starting
point for an analysis that is further continued on the basis of other types of foregrounding. For example, in the
following sonnet by Shakespeare, the salient feature is the polysyndeton which is the most noticeable part of
the poem. There are also other features:

And needy nothing trimmed in jollity,
And purest faith unhappily forsworn,
And gilded honour shamefully misplaced,
And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,
And right perfection wrongfully disgraced.
And strength by limp lug sway disabled,

Devices: anaphora, polysyndeton, parallel construction, evaluative words, lexical repetition of past
participle, negative words, contrast – everything good is wrong, everything evil prospers.

Is what catches the reader's eye – title, beginning, end, an interesting paragraph.


Text categories
Text categories don’t correspond to sentence categories and arise together with the text as the system of the
highest rank. These are categories of a special type, which characterize segments larger than sentence.
Text categories reflect its most general and essential features. The description and study of text categories
assumes both taxonomic (classificational) and qualitative investigations. All the text categories may be divided
into two groups: The first unites structural peculiarities (cohesion, integration, progression / stagnation) and
the second those of content (the image of the author, literary space and time, informativity, causality,

Can be described as the links that hold the text together and give it meaning. It uses linguistic devices to
signal the relations between sentences and parts of texts. These cohesive devices are phrases or words that
help the reader associate previous statements with subsequent ones. There are five cohesive devices which
signal coherence in texts: 1. Reference - there are two referential devices that can create cohesion: anaphoric
reference occurs when the writer refers back to someone or something that has been previously identified, to
avoid repetition (There was a boy. He was crying.) and cataphoric reference occurs when something is
introduced before it is identified (Here he comes, our award-winning host…it's John Doe!) 2. Ellipsis: happens
when words are omitted when the phrase needs to be repeated (Where are you going? To town.) 3.
Substitution: a word is substituted for another, more general word (Which ice cream would you like? – I would
like the pink one. / I dropped the ice cream because it was dirty.) 4.Lexical cohesion: arises from semantic
relations between words (Mary ate a peach. She likes fruit. / Mary likes green apples. She doesn't like red ones.
) 5. Conjunction: sets up a relationship between two clauses (and, however, in fact, consequently).

COHERENCE /kou'hirəns/
Coherence is what makes the text meaningful i.e. coherent texts are those texts that make sense to the
reader. The textual world is considered to consist of concepts and relations. A concept is a unit of knowledge
which can be recovered or activated with more or less unity and consistency in the mind, and relations are
the links between the concepts which appear together in a textual world. Some of the most common relations
can be classified in terms of two major notions, namely causality
relations and time relations
. Causality
relations concern the ways in which one situation or event affects the conditions for some other one and are
of four major types: 1.Cause: David hit the ball so hard that it flew over the hedge; here the event of 'hitting the
ball hard' has created the necessary conditions for the event of 'the ball flying over the hedge'. 2.Enablement:
Tabitha lay quietly in the sun and Tomas crept over and pulled her tail; here a weaker relation obtains between
the event consisting of Tabitha lying quietly in the sun, and the event consisting of Tomas creeping over and
pulling her tail; the former event is a sufficient, but not a necessary, condition for the latter. 3.Reason:

Causality = the relationship between an event (cause) and a second event (effect) where the second event is understood as
a consequence of the first.
Events are presented in temporal order

Because I've been writing about text linguistics all day I deserve a rest this evening; in this case, the second
event follows as a rational response to the first, but is not actually caused or enabled by it. 4.Purpose: You
are reading this to find out about text linguistics; in this case, although the first event enables the second, there
is an added dimension, in so far as the second event is the planned outcome of the first.

Concerns the way in which the use of a certain text depends on knowledge of other texts. It can include
an author's borrowing and transformation of a prior text or to a reader's referencing of one text in reading
another. Parodies, critical reviews, reports and responses to the arguments of others are highly and obviously
reliant on inter-textuality. E.g. There were many Sherlock Holmes-like figures in the town.

Concerns the extent to which a text tells us what we do not already know (degrees of new information);
the extent to which a text or parts of a text may be expected or unexpected. Every author encodes his/her
literary, semantic, and aesthetic information into one of the textual levels: morphological, lexical, phonetic,
syntactic etc. It is the reader's role to decode this information following their erudition, personal tastes and
cultural background. Information value is the most important text category in decoding stylistics. If the text
didn't provide any new information for the reader, the reader wouldn't be able to decode it.

(See also information theory in chapter General notes on style and stylistics). Information theory is very closely
connected with functions which language has in society. Leech names such functions as conveying
information – informational, expressing the speaker's or writer's feelings or attitudes – expressive, directing
or influencing the behavior or attitudes of others – directive, creating an artistic effect – aesthetic,
maintaining social bounds – phatic. All these functions can be found in any poetic text. E.g. Romeo and Juliet
– the very end of the story – she was the first one to sacrifice her life to Romeo – they are not equal –
position of women in society. → we must always read in between the lines.

Anthropocentrism is either the belief that humans are the central and most significant entities in the universe
or it evaluates reality exclusively in terms of human values, with the human being as the center of everything
that exists.

Is the speaker's or writer's attitude towards what he speaks about i.e. it is what the writer thinks about what
he or she is writing. Evaluation consists of anything that is compared to or contrasts with the norm. There
are different approaches towards evaluation, depending on what we want to focus on: systemic functional
linguistic theory, narrative discourse type, corpus linguistic methodology, language and ideology studies.


Traditionally, studies of modality distinguish between: Sentence modality, which deals with sentence types,
such as declarative (a statement), imperative (a command), interrogative (a question), optative (a wish),
exclamatory (an exclamation), etc. and verbal modality, which deals with the modal verbs and the mood of
verbs. Another division is into epistemic and deontic modality. Epistemic modality (necessity and possibility) –
Epistemic modality refers to the way speakers communicate their doubts, certainties and guesses. Deontic
modals (obligation and permission) – are those that indicate how the world ought to be, according to certain
norms, expectations, speaker desire, etc.

Textual modality = assessment of probability, the speaker's/writer's opinion towards what he describes.
It is used to express arguments and opinions. It is realized in the characteristics of heroes, in peculiar
distribution of predicative and relative pieces of the statement, in maxims, in conclusions, in actualization of
separate parts of the text and in number of other means. The most direct means realizing modality in a
sentence is the epithet. But in the text it plays rather a small role, because having only the syntactically
caused function of an attribute, it characterizes only that object to which it concerns.

Human emotions are verbalized by the language in the three ways: emotions may be named, described or
expressed by the language. They can also be expressed by non-verbal means: prosody, phonation or
gestures which usually accompany verbal emotions and can be described by them. Linguistics of emotion
(emotiology) deals with the problem of human emotions language processing. Special investigation and
classification of emotive signs into types and study of their functioning in the emotive speech acts allow us to
differentiate the three statuses of emotive semantics:

1. Emotive meaning: The primary, denotational meaning of a word is emotive. This emotive category is
represented by interjections, invectives: "dirty dozen", four letter words, endearing addressatives and
other lexis that may also be termed as affectives: "chicken", "sweetheart", "honey", "terrific", "horrid".
2. Emotive connotation: emotiveness goes hand in hand with the logical component of lexical meaning
and connotes the corresponding emotion in comparison to the first case where emotiveness denotes
it. That is where and how emotive meaning and connotation differ. The connotative words in contrast
to the affective words are characterized by the binary semantic structure: 1) the logical name for an
object; 2) the emotive charge representing the social and emotional evaluation of the object in view.
Such words always have their neutral synonyms: 'lousy' -'bad', 'individual' - 'man', 'pot' -'head', 'daddy'
-'father', 'laddie' -'boy', etc. Here belong all metaphorical words, derivatives with emotive affixes:
'bemedalled', 'bejewelled', 'bespectacled', 'womanish', 'scandalmonger', 'poetaster', 'Boykin', 'sailorette'
3. Emotive potential: Emotional speech acts and discourses show that in some situations practically
every word can obtain the emotive connotation and due to the fact it can fulfill the emotive function,
i.e. can express certain emotions of the speaker.

Types of stylistics

Text may imitate reality in two ways: mimesis – a strategy of imitating the world, making reality better
(represents, shows by means of action) diegesis – telling a story about this imitation (reports, tells the story
by narrator). In diegesis the narrator tells the story and presents the thoughts of a character. Diegesis may
concern elements such as characters, events and things within the main or primary narrative.

GENETIC STYLISTIC (=stylistics from the author's perspective)
It deals with the extra-textual reality. It studies the author's biography, his social, economical, and political
background and the way these factors influence his views as well as the way they have an impact on his

Logical analysis (after Roustan) – the main idea of the text
Psychological analysis (after Gramon) – different ways of seeing this world and interpreting reality
(negative, positive, optimistic, pessimistic)

The traditional idea of style as something properly added to thoughts contrasts with the ideas that derive from
Charles Bally - in terms of modern stylistics he dealt with the expressive function of signs, adding
actualization to those signs which, out of some conditioned reason, exalt their expressive function over the
basic communicative one. He introduced the notion of connotation such as stylistic meaning (=social
meaning: varies between age groups, social classes, etc.) and connotational meaning, also the notion of

STYLISTICS (=stylistics from textual perspective)
Immanent is a quality, which can't be taken away. It was brought to life by Russian formalism with Moscow
linguistic circle. Basic notions of Russian formalism are relativity of a literary fact, rejection of the artistic
image, defamiliarization and its further cognitive elaboration, blending of form and content. Text is not a
container, thus:

1) Form is contention and there are no boundaries between them /between form and content/
2) Any literary text is relative because it can be perceived literary depending on your artistic dislike.

Roman Jakobson and Victor Shklovsky: Poetic function according to Jakobson is the result of so called split
(double-sensed message leads to split). Split of reference, split of the addressor, split of the addressee.
According to Jakobson every poetic text creates a world of its own, it is not a replica to that. This world may
be close to that behind the window, it may be farther. The only difference is distance – close and far. These
two worlds may be different. The readers associate the narrator with the image of the author. But it isn't

Immanent = present as a natural part of something

always like that. V. Shklovsky – one of the ideologists of Russian formalism. Literary response is different. If
you have a publicistic text, the response is based on automatized shortened perception. Time of perception
should be shorter, no hindrances. Literary response is based on deautomatization. The perception should be
prolonged. Shklovsky coined the term defamiliarization.

According to defamililiarization theory, literary texts reverse the economizing effects of story grammars,
schemata, and so forth. The distinctive stylistic variations in literary texts complicate comprehension by
challenging the familiar, prototypic concepts that readers initially apply to the text. Polopatisticky:
Defamiliarization = ostraneniye = forces the audience to see common things in an unfamiliar or strange way,
in order to improve perception of the familiar. E.g. Tolstoy uses in his book the horse's perspective which
makes the story sound unfamiliar. Defamiliarization also employs the use of foreign words

STYLISTICS OF PERCEPTION (=stylistics from reader's perspective)

The focal point of this analysis is the reader's comprehension of the words of imaginative literature. Stylistics
of perception means decoding stylistics = text interpreting.

Shcherba Reader's involvement, subjectivity of interpretation,
the reader is involved emotionally because he is an
Larin Hierarchy of contexts, hierarchy of implicit and
explicit images
Bakhtin Introduced the image of the author which is powerful
in the text
Winogradov Meta-description, meta-image (general idea),
conceptual metaphors create images; the global
meta-image is equal to the idea of the text
Riffaterre Average reader is a heuristic
tool, the effect of
defeated expectancy, stylistic context and
unpredictability, convergence
Arnold Foregrounding and deautomatization of literary text

Heuristic = learn things by yourself

Basics of Cognitive

Cognitive poetics looks not just at the text, but at the mind's contribution to the reading and the specific
effects of the text on the reader's mind. It engages close analysis of the text and recognizes that context has
an important role in the creation of the meaning. The cognitive poetic tradition sees the field as including
issues of world-representation, reader interpretation and evaluation, narration, and reception theory.
Cognitive poetics assumes that poetic texts don't only have meanings that convey thoughts, but also display
emotional qualities perceived by the reader. The aim of cognitive poetics is to account for the construction of
meaning in terms of networks of mental spaces.

=possible worlds, abstract mental constructs; small cognitive representations of what is being read about in
processing and thought. A mental space may be the world defined by a picture, a world of fiction, the world of
a person's beliefs and desires, time slices, or hypothetical worlds. The peculiarity of mental spaces lies in the
fact that they are constructs of potential realities rather than perfect mirrors of the world. Anything that is
being written or talked about is considered to be true in a mental space e.g. The cat is blue can't be a true
sentence in our real world. However, in the reality of mental space it is true, mental spaces have no
boundaries as to whether sentences and stories are currently real, historical, hypothesized or happening
remotely. There are four main types of mental spaces: 1. Time spaces: current place (time setting where the
story takes place), typically identified by temporal adverbials, tense, and aspect 2. Space spaces:
geographical spaces (place setting of the story) indicated by locative adverbials, and verbs of movement 3.
Domain spaces: an area of activity such as work, games, scientific experiment 4. Hypothetical spaces:
conditional situations (e.g. the story is about a dying person, the hypothetical space will be – what will happen
after he dies?), hypothetical and unrealized possibilities, suggestions for plans and speculation.

The space theory is underlined by spatial metaphors (=metaphor related to space e.g. on the road to peace;
education is a gateway to success).

Other expressions connected to mental spaces:
Projected space = is created every time when we make a prediction, imagine something, etc.
Fictional space = is equal to projected space but is more extended by an ongoing narrative
Base space = reality space, presents the knowledge of the real world
Space builder = mental spaces are constructed by space builders: locatives (in, at), adverbials
(actually, really), conditionals (if, when)
Conceptual blends = mechanism by which we can hold the properties of two spaces together, such
as metaphorical and allegorical thinking, scientific or political analogy, and comparisons.

Cognitive = involves mental process
Poetics = theory, system

Concerns the way of how the literary works attaches to the world of reader i.e. it is the interaction of writer,
reader, and the textual context. The main difference between a mental space and a text world is that a mental
space does not contain a faithful representation of reality, but an idealized model.

In text world theory, a world is a language event involving at least two participants, and is the rich and
densely textured real-life representation of the combination of text and context. At the highest level is the
discourse world, involving face-to-face discourse participants (two speakers in a conversation, letter-writer
and receiver, author and reader). The language event that is the discourse world is the immediate situation,
including text, surroundings and including the discourse participants.

Text world theory: from the interaction of writer, reader, text and context comes a text world that can be
experienced as if it contained real people, places, and events, but potentionally at odds with our experience of
our real world. It is based on the analysis of entire texts (not just sentences) and the world that they create in
the minds of readers.

The text world consists of:

World-building elements: constitute the background against which the foreground events of the text
will take place. They include orientation in time and place, and they create characters and other
objects to furnish the text world available for reference. There are four basic types of world building
1. Time: is recoverable from tense and aspect system of verbs, temporal adverbials
and adverbial clauses.
2. Place (location): is recoverable from locative adverbs and adverbial clauses, and
noun phrases specifying place
3. Characters: noun phrases (incl.proper names) and pronominals

4. Objects: are also recoverable from noun phrases (including proper names) and

Function advancing propositions: provide information about actions, mental processes, states and
attributes of entities in the text world. At a basic level, we can distinguish two sorts of function-
1. Those that express predications that are attributive, relational, or descriptive
(Another thing was the light. There was too much of it.)
2. Those that express actions or events (they had left the country; the sun came up)

Pronominal can be used either to describe something related to a pronoun (he, they) or to mean a phrase that acts as a
pronoun in the context of nominal (I want that kind; Living there is expensive)

Object and tasks of semantics

Semantics = the study of meaning of language forms (such as words, sentences, lexemes, texts). Part of it is
pragma-linguistics which is the study of speech acts – by saying something we not only speak but also act.

MEANING = sort of an idea or a thought in mind, which is linguistically processed by a particular language
and is transferred from one communicant to the mind of another communicant.

Meaning can be on two levels: Sentence meaning (word meaning) = what the sentence means; Speaker
meaning = what the speaker means e.g. What’s the time? Sentence meaning: interrogative question; Speaker
meaning: a declarative sentence expressing disapproval of somebody coming late. Usually both of these two
types are combined.

Meaningfulness = All sentences are meaningful, there are no meaningless sentences.

Informativeness = Not all sentences are informative because many sentences are used by speakers not to
give information at all, but to keep the social wheels turning. E.g. It’s a nice weather today (when saying in
class) – it is an informative sentence because we are not outside. It’s a nice weather today (when saying on a
bus stop) – it is not an informative sentence (everybody sees what the weather is like); it only starts a social

Traditionally, there are two basic kinds of meaning: grammatical (component of meaning expressed by
inflectional endings, individual forms or some other grammatical devices) and lexical (the component of
meaning proper to the word as a linguistic unit i.e. recurrent in all the forms of this word). Lancaric
differentiates seven types of meaning:

Denotative meaning: results from the relationship between words and the entities which the words refer to. It
is the primary, context-independent lexical (word) meaning.

Connotative meaning: is represented by an expression having a figurative, non-literal character resulting
from the context.

Expressive meaning: a special type of connotative meaning describing speaker's emotions or state of mood
(Good Heavens!)

Social meaning: has to do with the use of language to establish and maintain social roles and social
relations. These are ritualized utterances such as greetings, apologies, etc. (How do you do?; How are you?,

but also socializing exchange of utterances about some evident phenomena, such as It's nice weather today,
isn't it?). Both social and expressive meanings are uninformative.

Grammatical meaning: can be conveyed by grammatical words whose only function is to organize
syntactically other lexical words or focus their meaning within a larger linguistic form (to, and, for, the). It may,
however, be expressed by inflectional endings of lexical words representing various grammatical categories
(father's car; he worked). Word order is another grammatical factor affecting sentence meaning (I have built a
house / I have a house built).

Pragmatic meaning: results from what the speaker means by saying something, or what message he intends
to convey to his interlocutor (a person who takes part in a conversation or dialogue). For example, the
sentence What's the time? may be intended either as a mere request for information about the time or as a
means of expressing one's disapproval with someone else's coming late. Under the heading of the study of
pragmatic meaning there is usually subsumed the so-called Speech Act Theory = develops the idea that
when we speak we do not just talk about something but also carry out an act (see chapter about illocutionary

Referential meaning: results from the relationship between parts of a language and phenomena outside the
language. (see chapter Problem of reference).

Kvetko distinguishes also collocational meaning i.e. the meaning that arises from collocation. The meaning
of a word is determined by words with which it is combined: strong wind; high voice; high salary; tall people;
tall chimney; heavy table; heavy eater.

A word that has more than one meaning in the language is called polysemous. Monosemous words are
comparatively rare in occurrence. They are usually technical, scientific terms, e.g. noun, phoneme, molecule,
hydrogen. The majority of English words are polysemous. Some meanings are clear without any context,
others are determined by the context. Synchronically, polysemy is the study of various meanings of the same
word at a certain period. Diachronically, polysemy is connected with changes in the semantic structure of
individual words. A word may retain its previous meaning, and at the same time acquire new one. We are
concerned here with the relationship between the old and new meanings.


Relation between language and factual reality

Is an organized stream of lower-level grammatical units (words, phrases) organized by grammatical rules of a
particular language. Sentence is systemic (can be repeated, written, may be preserved) and it also is an
abstract construct. Sentence doesn’t have an accent.

Is a stretch of talks by one person; a speech realization of the sentence. Utterance is not an abstract
construct, it is a physical construct. It is very unique (it cannot be repeated twice). It is used by a particular
speaker, on a particular occasion, as a piece of language, such as sequence of sentences or a single phrase,
or even a single word. Utterance has an accent.

Is what we have in mind; what we intend to say. It is the object of thought. Propositions are represented by all
kinds of sentences (interrogative, declarative, imperative). E.g. John can go (declarative sentence) v. Can
John go? (interrogative sentence) → both of these sentence are the same proposition (I am speaking about
John going somewhere)
Proposition is irrespective of its use in a sentence. Proposition is something abstract, psychological and
common to all people in the world (the same proposition can be in the mind of all people). Language
processes (sentences) are different in different languages. Utterance is always unique, said only by a
particular person, only once in time.

Is our individual thinking process. Propositions are common, thoughts are individual, personal.


Extension, prototype and stereotype of a predicate

PREDICATOR is the word that does not belong to any of the referring expressions and which, of the remainder, makes the most specific
contribution to the meaning. The predicator describes the state or process in which the referring expressions are involved e.g. asleep is the
predicator in Mummy is asleep and describes the state Mummy is in. Wait for is the predicator in Jimmy was waiting for the downtown bus
and describes the process involving Jimmy and the downtown bus. Predicators in the following sentences are: I am hungry; Joe is in San
Francisco; The Mayor is a crook; The man who lives at number 10 is whimsical; The Royal Scottish Museum is behind Old College.

PREDICATE is any word (or sequence of words) which (in a given single sense) can function as the
predicator of the sentence. It describes the state or process in which the referring expressions are involved.
E.g. hungry, in, crook, asleep, hit, show, bottle are predicates; and, or, but, not are not predicates.

EXTENSION of predicate represents the set of all individuals to which the predicate can be applied. E.g. cat
→ the finite number of cats is the extension of the word cat. Extension is timeless, it considers past, present,
as well as the future. My cats → specified in time and space, it depends on the context. Some say that the
meaning of a predicate equals to its extension. Featherless biped v. rational animal → both predicates have
the same extension, same number of referents, both represent the same number of objects. However, their
meaning is different. Featherless biped represents the idea of lack of feather whereas rational animal
represents someone rational.

PROTOTYPE of a predicate is an object which is held to be very typical of the kind of object which can be
referred to by an expression containing the predicate. In other words, the prototype of a predicate can be
thought of as the most typical member of the extension of a predicate e.g. a man of medium height and
average build, between 30 and 50 years old, with brownish hair, with no particularly distinctive characteristics
or defects, could be a prototype of the predicate man in certain areas of the world.

Shared prototype = the picture of representative of the class on which all the language users will agree (e.g.
table = kind of furniture. Sometimes objects don’t have prototype, e.g. electricity. Sometimes there is no
extension, but there is prototype e.g. red – prototype is the color red, extension may be dark red, light red,
mixture of red and other color – extension is not clearly defined.

STEREOTYPE of a predicate is a list of the typical characteristics or features of things to which the predicate
may be applied. E.g. the stereotype of cat would be: domesticated, furry, with sharp claws…

A stereotype is related to a prototype but is not the same thing. A prototype of elephant is some actual
elephant, whereas the stereotype of elephant is a list of characteristics which describes the prototype. The
stereotype of a predicate may often specify a range of possibilities (e.g. range of colors), but an individual
prototype will necessarily take some particular place within this range (e.g. black). Another important
difference between prototype and stereotype is that a speaker may well know a stereotype for some
predicate, such as ghost, but not actually be acquainted with any prototypes of it.

Problem of reference

Is the relationship between a language form and the object it signifies. This relationship is indirect, because it
must be mediated by a thought or concept. The object or phenomenon we refer to is called a referent.
Reference may be:

Constant: it is unique and common to all language users (e.g. the Sun, the Moon)
Variable: the referents depend on the context (e.g. table can be any table in the world).

Reference is a completely mental construct; it is only in one’s mind. This enables us to refer not only to really
existent objects, but also to abstract items and non-existent things if they can be imagined in our mind.
Therefore, whether we refer to existent or non-existent things we must have a sort of visual image of that
thing in our mind. We cannot visualize, for instance, words like the, for, etc.

Referent is an individual object, member of the extension of the predicate. It is the only member to which we
can refer, which we can specify by the predicate.

One referent may be expressed by different expressions: Morning star (zornicka) and Evening star (vecernica)
= semantically they are different because of their association (morning/evening) but they both refer to the
same constant referent – the planet Venus. Reference results from the relationship between a language and
the outside world.

Is any expression that refers to an idea reflecting a phenomenon of extra linguistic reality i.e. used with a
particular referent in mind. It is represented by noun phrases (the boy, my father), proper names (John,
Scotland), personal pronouns (he, they) or longer descriptive expressions (the boy who has been late today).
Prepositions, articles, and some other grammatical words do not refer to anything, but whole sentence. Some
phrases, in particular noun phrases (a man), can be used either as referring expressions (John attacked a
man), or as predicating expressions (John is a man). The referential value depends on the context. E.g. book
in an utterance such as the book is green where the speaker refers to a particular person in mind when he
says 'book', is a referring expression. Book in 'There is no book in the bookcase' is not a referring expression
because in this case a speaker would not have a particular book in mind in uttering the word.

A slightly different example can be illustrated by the sentence “The dog is a carnivore” and “That dog over
there is a carnivore”. In most situational contexts, the first sentence does not refer to anything at all, because
of its generic character. Since the generic expression the dog (generic = referring to the whole class of
individuals) represents the whole indefinite and unrestricted class of dogs, it cannot represent a particular

animal. On the other hand, that dog over there creates a context in which dog clearly refers to an individual
and very concrete creature.

The whale is a mammal → there are two predicates (whale, mammal). The whale refers to a category of
whales (it doesn’t refer to anything particular). It has a generic function. A mammal only attributes a quality, it
is a predicator.

Referring expressions are often said to be arguments – syntactically, they may or may not function as
arguments. Their function is often argumentative. Function of some other words in a sentence which are not
referring, is predicative. Mummy is asleep. → from semantic point of view the only words with function are
Mammy and asleep. Mummy is a referential expression, it functions as the argument. Asleep is a quality
attributed to the referring expression, it functions as predicator (E.g. The white man loved the Indian maiden
→ 'the white man' and 'the Indian maiden' are referring expressions, 'loved' is a predicator).

= all the words that can potentionally function as predicators of the sentence. E.g. 1. There is a man / 2. He is
a man → 'a man' is a predicate because potentionally it may function as a predicator. It functions as an
argument in sentence 1 (it is a referring expression). It functions as a predicator in sentence 2 because by
'he' we refer to an existing person. 'Man' is his quality and functions only as predicator.

Degree of predicate
Predicates may have their degrees. They depend on how many arguments each predicate requires.

love Someone LOVES Someone Predicate of degree 2
between It is BETWEEN that and that. Requires at least 3 arguments
look, work I WORK. Predicate of degree 1

Intransitive verbs are usually of degree 1.

Context, universe of discourse, deixis and definiteness, generic

Is a small part of a universal discourse between speaker and hearer. It usually includes facts about the topic
of the conversation (what we talk about) as well as the situa
hearer). It is usually constructed in the course of the conversation
at the end of the conversation.

Linguistic context: made up of language means, such as text,
words (heavy rain: the meaning of 'heavy' is clarified by its neighboring word).

Situational context: corresponds to the circumstances in which an act of speech takes place.

Opaque context: part of a sentence
referring expression, but where the addition of different referring expressions, even though they refer to the
same thing or person, in a given situation, will yield sentences with
given situation. E.g. The incomplete sentence
context, because, even in a conversation about American politics in 2007, the following two utterance would
make different claims: A. Laura Bush thinks that the President is a genius. B. Laura Bush thinks that the leader
of the Republican Party is a genius.
not the Leader of the Republican Party, then A a

Is what is being spoken about i.e. any utterance as the particular world, real or imaginary (or part real, part
imaginary), that the speaker assumes he is talking about at the time. It is more speci
linguistic reality. It is specified by what is being spoken about in time and space. E.g. When an astronomy
lecturer, in a serious lecture, states that
all assume, the real world (or universe). When we tell children about a bedtime story and say "the dragon set
fire to the woods with his hot breath", the universe of discourse is not the real world but a fictitious world.
Another example: When an atheist and a religious pe
different, because they view God from different points of view.

Context, universe of discourse, deixis and definiteness, generic
Is a small part of a universal discourse between speaker and hearer. It usually includes facts about the topic
of the conversation (what we talk about) as well as the situation (where we talk, who are the speaker and the
hearer). It is usually constructed in the course of the conversation – it may be different at the beginning and
: made up of language means, such as text, sentence, or even the minimal combination of
: the meaning of 'heavy' is clarified by its neighboring word).
: corresponds to the circumstances in which an act of speech takes place.
: part of a sentence which could be made into a complete sentence by the addition of a
referring expression, but where the addition of different referring expressions, even though they refer to the
same thing or person, in a given situation, will yield sentences with different meanings when uttered in a
given situation. E.g. The incomplete sentence Laura Bush thinks that… is a genius
context, because, even in a conversation about American politics in 2007, the following two utterance would
A. Laura Bush thinks that the President is a genius. B. Laura Bush thinks that the leader
of the Republican Party is a genius. → if, for example, Laura Bush believes incorrectly that the President is
not the Leader of the Republican Party, then A and B will mean different things.
Is what is being spoken about i.e. any utterance as the particular world, real or imaginary (or part real, part
imaginary), that the speaker assumes he is talking about at the time. It is more speci
linguistic reality. It is specified by what is being spoken about in time and space. E.g. When an astronomy
lecturer, in a serious lecture, states that the Earth revolves around the Sun, the universe of discourse is, we
eal world (or universe). When we tell children about a bedtime story and say "the dragon set
fire to the woods with his hot breath", the universe of discourse is not the real world but a fictitious world.
Another example: When an atheist and a religious person talk about God, their universe of discourse is
different, because they view God from different points of view.
Context, universe of discourse, deixis and definiteness, generic
Is a small part of a universal discourse between speaker and hearer. It usually includes facts about the topic
tion (where we talk, who are the speaker and the
it may be different at the beginning and
sentence, or even the minimal combination of
: corresponds to the circumstances in which an act of speech takes place.
which could be made into a complete sentence by the addition of a
referring expression, but where the addition of different referring expressions, even though they refer to the
meanings when uttered in a
constitutes an opaque
context, because, even in a conversation about American politics in 2007, the following two utterance would
A. Laura Bush thinks that the President is a genius. B. Laura Bush thinks that the leader
if, for example, Laura Bush believes incorrectly that the President is
Is what is being spoken about i.e. any utterance as the particular world, real or imaginary (or part real, part
imaginary), that the speaker assumes he is talking about at the time. It is more specific than the extra
linguistic reality. It is specified by what is being spoken about in time and space. E.g. When an astronomy
n, the universe of discourse is, we
eal world (or universe). When we tell children about a bedtime story and say "the dragon set
fire to the woods with his hot breath", the universe of discourse is not the real world but a fictitious world.
, their universe of discourse is

= the general phenomenon of occurrence of deictic expressions. Deictic Expressions = special category of
words contribute to the meaning of the utterance. Deictic word is one which takes some element of its
meaning from the context or situation (i.e. the speaker, the addressee, the time and the place) of the
utterance in which it is used. E.g. the first person singular pronoun 'I' is deictic. When Ben Hensley says 'I've
lost the contract', the word 'I' here refers to Ben Hensley. When Penny Carter says "I'll send it", the 'I' here
refers to Penny Carter. Thus, deictic expressions are dependent on the context (adverbs, personal pronouns,
demonstrative pronouns, articles), they build the context. Another example: John: I will meet you here
tomorrow → all these words are deictic expressions, they depend on the context, i.e. I, you = may refer to
anybody; here = may be anywhere; tomorrow = may be anytime, depends on the point of view. Deictic
expressions may become non-deictic in reported speech in order to preserve the original reference. E.g. John
said that he would meet him there the next day. – non-deictic.

Is a feature of a noun phrase selected by a speaker to convey his assumption that the hearer will be able to
identify the referent of the noun phrase, usually because it is the only thing of its kind in the context of the
utterance, or because it is unique in the universe of discourse. Definite noun phrases usually are proper
names, personal pronouns, noun phrases introduced by definite articles. The definite article “the” may have
the function: either to mark definiteness or it may have also generic function (the dog is a mammal). E.g. That
book is definite/ It can only appropriately be used when the speaker assumes the hearer can tell which book
is being referred to. The Earth is definite. It is the only thing in a normal universe of discourse known by this

A generic sentence is a sentence in which some statement is made about a whole unrestricted class of
individuals, as opposed to any particular individual. E.g. The hummingbird is a bird (understood in the most
usual way) is a generic sentence. That hummingbird over there is a bird is not a generic sentence. Generic
sentences can be introduced by either 'a' or 'the'.


Word and sentence meaning

Is the process of forming new words according to a (fairly) regular pattern on the basis of pre-existing words.
New words may be formed by combining existing words with meaningful units smaller than words, or with
other existing words, according to derivational patterns or rules that are part of every speaker's mental
knowledge of the language. A step in a derivation is usually not one process, but three simultaneous
processes, namely: a morphological process (e.g. changing the shape of an existing word by adding a prefix
or suffix morpheme to an existing root morpheme [build – builder; play - replay]), a syntactic process
(changing the part of speech of a word, e.g. from verb to noun) and a semantic process (producing a new
sense). Example:

Zero-derivation: derivation involving no morphological process at all. In such cases a root morpheme is
converted from one part of speech to another without the addition of either prefix or suffix to the root. E.g.
Cook (agent noun) is derived from cook (transitive verb) just as painter (agent noun) is derived from paint
(transitive verb).We just happen not to have a word cooker, meaning a person who cooks, in English. The
lack of such a form which would otherwise be derivable according to regular word formation patterns is
sometimes referred to as a ‘lexical gap’. Cook (noun) is an example of zero-derivation.

As a result, the process of derivation can often be 'invisible', because no morphological process is involved.
When what is apparently the ‘same’ word is used in two different parts of speech, as in I'm going for a swim v.
Sue can't swim very well, there is usually a semantic process involved as well, i.e. a change of sense of some
sort. Thus, for example, open (the adjective) denotes a state, whereas open (the derived intransitive verb)
denotes an action. The difference between states and actions is a difference in meaning, a semantic
difference. It is simply a difference that is not reflected in a morphological change in the root word.

Just as derivation can sometimes involve both semantic and syntactic processes, but no morphological
process, cases also occur of morphological and semantic processes without an accompanying syntactic
process, i.e. without a change in part of speech. E.g. A comparative adjective, such as larger, is derived, by

adding a suffix, from the adjective large. Even though both the source word and the derived form are
adjectives, they have clearly distinct semantic properties:

Large Larger (than)
One-place predicate Two-place predicate
Antonym: small Antonym: smaller than
One-place predicate cannot have the property of
Transitive predicate

It is not always possible to describe differences in meaning between derived words and their sources in as
clear terms as in the case of comparative adjectives derived from gradable adjectives. As a step towards
developing a full account of these meaning differences, semanticists have invented classificatory labels for
derivation: inchoative, causative, and resultative.

Inchoative: denotes the beginning or coming into existence of some state e.g. dark – darken; dry – dry; clear
– clarify; hard – harden; flat – flatten; soft – soften.

Causative: denotes an action which causes something to happen e.g. Open (transitive verb) is the causative
form corresponding to open (intransitive verb). If one opens a door, for example, one causes it to open (in the
intransitive sense of open). In English zero-derivation is the commonest device for producing causative forms,
although causatives are also frequently formed by adding the suffix -en to the non-causative root.

Resultative: denotes a state resulting from some action e.g. Broken (used as an adjective) is the resultative
form corresponding to break (transitive verb). The state of being broken results from the action of breaking.


Identity (synonymy) = the relationship between two predicates that have the same sense. Within synonymy
we can speak of ideographic synonymy (big/large, love/adore – we, in fact, don’t refer to the same, there is a
different idea of what is expressed by these words) and stylistic synonymy (father/dad, mother/mom, die/pass
away – we have the same idea, the only difference between these words is stylistic: formal/informal). In both
of these cases we may speak of identity of sense – they have identical senses. Perfect synonyms (half-
open/half-closed) are rare, some linguists deny their existence.

Also sentences may have the same sense. Synonymous sentences (or synonymy on the sentence level) are
in semantics referred to as paraphrases (=two language forms have identical sense). Example: Bachelors
prefer red-haired girls / Girls with red hair are preferred by unmarried men.

Is based on the hierarchical relationship of signs. In this relation a more general term (hyperonym) is
hierarchically over the more specific term (hyponym). For example, the hyperonym furniture is super - ordinate
to the subordinate hyponyms armchair, wardrobe, sofa, but all of the hyponyms include the semantic content
of furniture. Symmetrical hyponymy: symmetrical sense between two language forms which are synonymous
e.g. puppy/baby dog → they are the same, but at the same time they are hyponyms of each other;
flower/rose → their only sense relationship is hierarchical, rose is only a subordinate term, it is the hyponym
of the hyperonym flower. They are not symmetrical.

At the sentence level we prefer speaking about entailment rather than hyponymy. Entailment represents a
logical relationship between a sentence and a proposition that the sentence expresses (e.g. John speaks
English and French entails the proposition John speaks French) i.e. the meaning of one sentence entails the
meaning of another sentence e.g. John killed Bill – Bill died → The sentence John killed Bill entails the fact
that Bill died. Sentence Bill died is a subordinate language form. Also: John ate all the muffins entails that
Somebody ate something.

Occurs between words that have a different or opposite meaning. Types of antonymy: Binary
(complementary) antonymy: dead - alive; pass – fail; male – female → one complements the other i.e. when I

the meaning of the language form which is given from its relationship to other language forms. One language form may have
several senses: The chicken is ready to eat (1. Sense = the chicken is hungry; 2. Sense = we are going to eat the chicken).


deny one member I automatically mean the other (when you are dead, you must be alive; when you’re not
male, you must be a female). Converses: employer – employee; doctor – patient; own – belong to; above –
below. Non-gradable converseness is based on a reciprocal relation. Gradable: Good-bad (if I say you’re not
bad, it doesn’t mean you are good – you may be nice, mild - there is a whole range of other possibilities)

If two sentences are opposites, they are called contradictory.

Is relation between words which have identical sound or spelling forms or both, but a different meaning and
often a different origin. Their basic classification is into homophones (identical in sound form e.g. son - sun),
and homographs (identical in spelling e.g. tear /tiə/ - tear /teə/). Some lexemes have both identical sound and
spelling forms (bank – bank); they are so-called homonyms proper. If they belong to the same part of speech
they are termed full homonyms.

Homonymy on sentence level is called ambiguity e.g. We saw her duck → “duck” may be an animal (object)
– sentence model S-V-O; or an adjective (complement) – sentence model S-V-O-C. Ambiguity is often
structural (depends on sentence structure). It doesn’t result from homonymy of individual words but from the
sentence meaning. Outside context we cannot guess the meaning.

castá otázka: What is the difference between homonymy and polysemy? Homonymy is rather formal; it is a relationship between
two words. Polysemy is purely semantic relation taking place between individual meanings of a single word (e.g. head
/ head


Sentence properties are of three kinds:
1. Analytic sentences are necessarily true as a result of hyponymic relation between one expression
and the other that are related on the syntagmatic level: All elephants are animals.
2. Synthetic sentences are dependent on pragma-linguistic aspects (context, situation) – it is the
situation that makes the sentence true or false: John is from Ireland.
3. Contradictory sentences are a result of antonymy, the sentence is neither true nor false e.g. This
animal is a vegetable → animal is antonymous to vegetable because you may be either an animal
or a vegetable.

Is basically a question of ‘what goes with what’ in a sentence, e.g. The phrase old men and women is
structurally ambiguous. It is synonymous with women and old men and with old men and old women: [old men]
and women v. old [men and women]. The first sentence indicates that old modifies only men, and the second
indicates that old modifies the whole phrase men and women.

Participant roles and interpersonal meaning

Participants role = the role of referring expressions in a sentence. From grammatical point of view, referring
expressions may function as subject, object, complement, or if combined with a prepositional phrase, they
may have adverbial function. From the semantic point of view, they function as semantic participants.
Semantic participants are:

Agent = the performer of the action; agent can be only a person (sometimes animal)
Affected participant = the participant on which the action is performed
Instrument = the participant which is used to carry out the action
Beneficiary = the participant for whose befit or to whose detriment the action described by the
sentence is carried out
Location = expresses place

John opened the door with a key = referring expressions are John, door, and key. From grammatical point of
view John = subject, door = object, key = complement. From semantic point of view:


Interpersonal meaning (=speech acts): the meaning which results from the communication between two or
more people. When we speak we do not just talk about something but also carry out an act. We not only
perform a locutionary (physical) act but we also behave = Speech Act theory. This theory was introduced by
John L. Austin and John Searle.

Here we distinguish between constantive utterances (use constantive verbs such as read, try, open, teach)
and performative utterances (use performative verbs such as apologize, promise). Performative utterances
really describe the action that is performed. They are the act of behavior. Constantive utterances are used to
create purely locutionary acts, performative utterances are used to produce illocutionary or perlocutionary

Illocutionary acts = defined by social conventions (accusing, admitting, apologizing, complaining, greeting,
naming, offering, praising, promising, protesting, etc.). They are not accidental. Perlocutionary acts = acts of
causing a certain effect on the hearer. Very often they are accidental because they depend on the reaction of
the hearer. Example: There is a hornet in your ear → if the hearer panics (panic = effect) it is a
perlocutionary act. If the hearer doesn’t react in any way, it is not a perlocutionary act. You passed your exam
→ if it makes the hearer happy it is a perlocutionary act. If it doesn’t make the hearer happy, it is not a
perlocutionary act.

Direct illocution: the illocution most directly indicated by a literal reading of the grammatical form and
vocabulary and sentence uttered. Indirect illocution: any further illocution the utterance may have. Example:
the direct illocution Can you pass the salt? Is an enquiry about the hearer's ability to pass the salt. The
indirect illocution is a request that the hearer pass the salt. Why don't we go to Portugal this summer? →
direct illocution is asking why speaker and hearer do not (or will not) go to Portugal. Indirect illocution is
suggesting that the speaker and the hearer go to Portugal.



GRAMMAR: a set of syntactic and morphological rules of a given language / scientific branch of linguistics
dealing with the description of semantic and morphological structure of language and also the structure of
words and sentences itself. There are five grammatical units: sentences, clauses, phrases, words,

SENTENCE: is the highest grammatical unit and consists of lower-level grammatical units. The definition of a
sentence: it is a stream of words put together and organized by grammatical rules, it has its own inner
system. By sentences we express complete utterances and thoughts.

There are two kinds of sentences: simple and multiple. Multiple sentences can be divided into compound
[they have equal status], complex, or compound-complex. Simple sentence contains a subject and a verb and
it expresses a complete thought. Compound sentence contains two independent clauses joined by a
coordinator. Complex sentence has an independent clause joined by one or more dependent clauses. A
complex sentence always has a subordinator such as because, since, although, when or a relative pronoun
such as that, who, which. Compound-complex sentence is a sentence with at least two independent clauses
and one or more dependent clauses e.g. The dog lived in the backyard, but the cat, who knew he was superior,
lived inside the house.

→ It is a multiple sentence because there are two predicates and two subjects → each clause has one
subject and one predicate. It is a compound sentence coordinated by the conjunction but.

CLAUSE: a type of relationship between the subject and the predicate, but on the contrary to sentence, it
doesn’t have an autonomic existence. A clause cannot stand on its own. If it does, it is a simple sentence, not
a clause. Depending on transitivity, there are 7 different clause types (structures): Intransitive: S + V (he
speaks, I talk, she reads); Monotransitive: S+V+O
(I read a book; She is watching TV); Ditransitive: S+V+O+O
= usually it is S+V+O
(I gave him a book), but sometimes it may also be S+V+O
(I gave the book to
him); Complex transitive: S+V+O+C (I saw him drunk) or S+V+O+A (I saw him there); Copulative clauses:
S+V+C (He is a student) or S+V+A (He is at home.).

There is one special case of the S+V+O+O model and it is when we use passive voice – the subject may be
substituted by either one of the objects e.g. They gave him money (S+V+O
) can be changed to He was
given money (S+V+O
) or The money was given to him (S+V+O


PHRASE: Phrases are higher units into which words can be organized. They have a unique function in a
sentence (they may function as subject, predicate, etc.) but unlike sentences, they do not consist of S+V
construction. There are five basic types of phrases: noun phrase (has a noun as its head e.g. the fact that he
cannot speak English is unacceptable; he did not show his ability to speak another foreign language), verb
phrase (has a full verb as its head), prepositional phrase (usually consists of a preposition followed by a noun
phrase. They function either as adverbials e.g. to the garden or as modifiers [complements] following the noun
e.g. I've bought a touring book of Britain), adjective phrase (consists of an adjective as a head e.g. It was more
interesting than what we saw yesterday), and adverb phrase (the head is an adverb e.g. he drove his car so
rapidly you can't imagine). They can be subdivided e.g. in the garden – [in – PP] AP; the garden = NP.

WORD is the fundamental grammatical unit, because it can function as either of the other grammatical units
i.e. sentence, clause, morpheme, etc. Words can be divided into lexical [= they are imaginable in our mind;
reflect the existing reality, the really existing phenomena of extra-linguistic reality] and grammatical [=have
only grammatical function; they organize other words in sentences]. Mathesius defines word: “The word is the
smallest independently utilizable segment of an utterance characterized by a certain meaning” → the smallest
grammatical units are morphemes, but they are not independently utilizable. According to Mathesius, word is
a bilateral unit having both form and meaning.

MORPHEME: is the smallest grammatical unit and the smallest dependent lexical unit. Morphemes function in
words like clauses function in sentences. They can be divided into free [they don’t need to be bound to
another morpheme – they can stand on their own to form words] and bound [they need to be bound to other
morphemes; bound morphemes are usually prefixes and suffixes].


Due to a high number of monosyllabic words, in English there are more mono-morphemic words than in
Slovak e.g. clerk – uradnik; hair – vlasy; win – vyhrat (Slovak equivalents are composed of more than one
morpheme). However, there are mono-morphemic words also in Slovak: vsak, snad, iba.
Slovak preposition is always followed by the element it belongs to – in English its position can be postponed
and it can stand after the verb: From whom did you get it? / Who did you get it from?
Slovak is a synthetic language (= language with a high morpheme-per-word ratio i.e. different grammatical
aspects are expressed in one word by changing its structure e.g. by adding a suffix or prefix, modifying the
core of the word, etc.), English is an analytic language (= language where syntax and meaning are shaped
more by use of particles and word order rather than by inflection)
English has a fairly fixed word order and the meaning is expressed through addition of words and movement
of words within limited boundaries. Slovak conveys meaning largely through changes in the composition of
In Slovak, there are many subject-less sentences (one-element sentences). In English it is not common. It
occurs only in the case of ellipsis.

Ontological and functional classification of words into parts of speech

The classification of words is known to lead to the so-called parts of speech (word categories). There are two
different views about the word categories: some critics claim that word categories correspond to ontological
categories, i.e. to the categories of the extra-linguistic reality. According to this theory, nouns are the names
of object, adjectives denote permanent qualities that do not change and verbs in turn denote such aspects of
objects that can change. Contrary to this view, the other theory asserts that word classes correspond to
syntactic categories. According to this theory, nouns are words that can operate as subjects or objects,
adjectives are words that may perform the function of coordinate attributes and verbs are defined as words
expressing the predicate.

Primary categories: division of words into parts of speech; secondary categories: the individual features of
primary categories (e.g. tense, mood). Primary categories: open class category: nouns, adjectives, full verbs,
some adverbs; closed class category: modal verbs, auxiliary verbs, primary verbs, pronouns, prepositions,
conjunctions; peripheral classes: numerals, interjections; words of unique function: not, to-infinitive.


Nouns: can occur as the head of a noun phrase. They function as subject, object, adverb (usually
represented by prepositional phrases), complement, apposition (John, the teacher, spoke.) and attribute (the
head of the phrase is pre-modified by another noun e.g. town school, table tennis, flower-pot)

Verbs: they function as the head of verbal groups. They most frequently occur on their own, as a single-word
verb phrase acting as the central part of the clause. Their sentence function is the predicative one. From
syntactic point of view verb can be divided into full verbs (main verbs), primary verbs (be, have, do), and
modal auxiliary verbs (auxiliaries – shall, should, must and semi-modals – have to, ought to, had better).

Adjectives: from functional point of view, adjectives may function: Attributively (as pre-modifiers of the head
of the noun phrase). Adjectives converted from nouns are usually used attributively (table tennis, town school).
Attributive position usually represents a permanent quality (valuable picture, he is a nice person); Predicatively
(as post-modifiers of a copular verb). Usually those adjectives that start with “a-” (aloof, afraid, alive, alone,
asleep, awake, ashamed) are used only predicatively. Predicative position usually presents an either neutral
or momentary (not permanent) quality (I’m happy to meet you, they are happy together); Central adjectives:
have both attributive and predicative function (good, nice, pretty e.g. that woman is pretty/ a pretty woman).

Adjectives can also function as: Heads of noun phrases: if used with the definite article or demonstrative
pronoun; Complements: their syntactic function as subject or object complement; Objects: e.g. she admires the
mystical; Prepositional complements: when they directly follow a preposition e.g. between the young and the
old; used to create verb-less clauses (adjective clauses): Unhappy with the results, she started learning more

→ there is no subject, no verb. The typical S-V function in a sentence is represented by the adjective

Adverbs: adverbs occur as head of adverb phrase (very noisily). They are often used as modifiers. (see
chapter 'Form and function of adjectives and adverbs')

Numerals: consist of a small set of simple forms and a large set of more complex forms which can be built
up from the simple forms (fifty-five thousand and four hundred eighteen). They are most commonly used in the
role of determiners (cardinals: four people were arrested; ordinals: I was doing my third week at work) or heads
in noun phrases (cardinals: four of the boys; ordinals: Three man will come now. A fourth will come later).
Ordinals are also used to form fractions. Treated like regular nouns, ordinals can take a plural ending: two
thirds of people who live here are black; the pupil can identify the place value of a column or a digit for values of
tenths, hundredths and thousandths.

Function words

Pronouns: pronouns fill the position of a noun or a whole noun phrase. The reference of a pronoun is usually
made clear by its context. There are eight major classes of pronouns: personal (I, he, you), demonstrative
(this, those), reflexive (myself, herself), reciprocal (each other), possessive (my, his), indefinite (somebody,
nobody, all), relative (who, whom, which, that – in relative clauses), interrogative (what, who)

Prepositions: linking words that introduce prepositional phrases e.g. in, on, with, of, etc.

Coordinators: there are 2 types of coordinators: coordinating conjunctions (coordinators: for, and, nor, but,
or, yet, so) and subordinating conjunctions (subordinators: as, then, although, while, since, because, whether,
that). They are used to indicate a relationship between two units. They link elements which have the same
syntactic role. There are also correlative coordinators: both…and; either…or; not only…but also; neither…nor.


Nouns: represent objects, persons, manners, but also abstract processes, states and qualities

Verbs: express processes or changing qualities or dynamic aspects of things

Adjectives: describe the qualities of people, things, and abstractions. From this point of view adjectives are
closest to verbs: he succeeds in doing something (verbal component) v. he is successful (adjective
component) → both of these sentences contain different elements, but semantically they are the same. They
may function as Intensifiers: emphasize the quality e.g. a true scholar, a true scientist, a great distraction, a

slight effort; Restrictive adjectives: restrict the reference of the noun e.g. a certain person, the only occasion,
his chief excuse.

Adverbs: descriptive words that convey a sense of how, when, where, or why. As modifiers, they most often
express the degree of a following adjective or adverb (totally wrong; right now). As elements of clauses
(adverbials), adverbs and adverb phrases have a wide range of meanings: they can modify action, process,
or state, by expressing such notions as time, place and manner. They can convey the speaker's or writers

Numerals: there are two parallel set of numerals: cardinals (answer the question 'how many?') and ordinals
(answer the question 'which?' and serve to place entities in order or in a series).


Nouns v. adjectives

In both English and Slovak adjectives may be formed from nouns by means of morphological derivation:
mesto – mestsky; glory – glorious.
English has the capacity to make adjectives from nouns by placing them before another noun: table tennis;
mother tongue. In Slovak such change does not exist.
The pre-modified noun usually lacks number contrast: zoznam cestujucich – passenger list; patrocny plan –
five-year plan BUT sportove ihrisko – sportsground; vesiak na saty – clothes hanger.
The pre-modifying noun has usually classifying function: dirt road; an education committee – vybor pre
vzdelarov; enemy aircraft – nepriatelske lietadlo.
The pre-modifying adjective has usually qualifying function: dirty road; educational program – vzdelavaci
program; a hostile attitude – nepriatelsky postoj.

Adjectives v. nouns: This is the only type of conversion in Slovak e.g. zlato – zlaty. It also exists in English:
gold – golden; wood – wooden. The definite article is required in English.

Nouns v. verbs: nouns can turn into verbs by way of derivation in both languages: vaha – vazit; glory – glorify;
strength – strengthen. Unlike Slovak, English is able to convert verbs directly from nouns e.g. hammer – to
hammer; mother – to mother (we add zero morpheme – full conversion).

Adjectives v. verbs: occur in English only: warm – to warm; cool – to cool

Full conversion: words are converted from one word class to another without adding any affixes.
Partial conversion: consists of conveying a verb to a noun and adding another auxiliary verb (have a smoke, take a walk,
give a laugh, etc.)

Adverbs v. nouns: this type of conversion cannot be found in Slovak: back, up, down

Adjectives v. adverbs: the change takes place in both languages by means of morphological derivation:
hlboky – hlboko; deep – deeply; short – shortly.

Compounds v. verbs: He snowballed me all the way – hadzal do mna gule; the boy was mastheaded by the
captain – pripevnil ho na stoziar.

Partial conversion: many English nouns occur in combination with verbs: give a kick – kopnut; give a polish –
nalestit; take a sip – dat si dusok; take a glance – zazriet; make a fuss – robit zmatok; make a guess – tipnut;
make a move – hybat sa; get a move on – poponahlat sa; get a jump on somebody – preskocit.

Shift of stress, sound interchange: English parts of speech are also distinguished by changing a phoneme or
stress. In Slovak, however, it is only the phoneme that changes: import – / 'impo:t / (noun) – / im'po:t / (verb);
record – / 'reko:d / (noun) – / ri'ko:d / (verb); increase – / 'inkri:s / (noun) –/ in'kri:s / (verb); permit –/ 'pə:mit /
(noun) - / pə'mit / (verb); desert – / 'dezət / (noun) – / di'zə:t / (verb); insult – / 'insalt / (noun) – / in'salt / (verb);
dictate - / 'dikteit / (noun) - / dik'teit / (verb); refill - / 'ri:fil / (noun) - / ri:'fil / (verb); snaha –snazit sa

Alternation: is a means of distinguishing parts of speech. It is mainly used between verbs and nouns, less
between verbs and adjectives: half – to halve; relief – to relieve; close / klous / - to close / klouz /


In English, the category of nouns and the category of verbs are not formally differentiated as clearly as in
Slovak. It is because Slovak has a larger number of nouns and verbs derived and the inflection systems of
nouns and verbs are also distinctly different. As a result the endings clearly indicate whether the word in
question is a noun or a verb. In English, on the other hand, verbs and nouns differ at first sight only a little
since their base forms usually have the same form.
Neither are nouns and verbs clearly distinguished from each other in regard to their function. From Slovak
adjective biely it is possible to form the noun belosť and the verb bieliť. This process, however, involves
derivational changes (the attachment of suffixes), whereas English often allows transition of one word
category into another without any such derivational changes (conversion).
Nouns in Slovak can be ordered almost anywhere in the sentence since their function (subject, object) is
indicated by their form, i.e. nouns in Slovak express case.
In Slovak, the word classes are determined by the morphological structure of words: praca (noun), pracovat
(verb), pracovny (adjective), pracovne (adverb). In English, there are also many words with different affixes
indicating the word class e.g. noun suffixes (-ance, -ation, -siom, -dom, -ity, etc.), verbal suffixes (-ize, -ify),
adjectival (-able, -ible, -ish, -less), adverbial (-wards); however, the word class of many words is not signalized
by their morphemic structure: down, back.

Nouns and their secondary categories

NOUN = from the semantic (ontological) point of view it represents objects, persons, manners. From syntactic
point of view noun can function as subject, object, adverb (usually represented by prepositional phrases),
complement, apposition (John, the teacher, spoke.), and attribute (the head of the phrase is pre-modified by
another noun e.g. town school, table-tennis, flower-pot).

Secondary grammatical categories of noun are number, gender, case, and definiteness.


1. Singularia tantum = nouns whose meaning is actualized only when used as singular e.g. measles,
checkers, linguistics. Singularia tantum are also proper names – Barrack Obama, John
2. Pluralia tantum = only the plural form has a given meaning, e.g. colors (=vlajka), pains (strasti),
jeans, glasses. Pluralia tantum nouns don’t need to be marked for number e.g. police, people, cattle,
folk (are). Pluralia tantum includes also geographical names (the Hebrides, Canary Islands). Many
English pluralia tantum correspond to Slovak singularia tantum (Middle Ages = Stredovek). On the
other hand, also many Slovak pluralia tantum correspond to English singular (kríže = back,
narodeniny = birthday)
3. Variable nouns = a special category of nouns in terms of number. Variable nouns are regular nouns
taking the –s/-es; they have both singular and plural forms (car-cars, book-books, etc.)

In order to express plural, some nouns undergo a change inside their forms instead of using plural ending.
This kind of plural is called mutational plural (goose – geese, foot – feet, man – men, woman – women, tooth
– teeth, mouse – mice). A certain number of nouns, although being countable, use a zero-plural which means
they do not formally distinguish between singular and plural (this sheep – these sheep). Some units of weight,
number, etc. have a zero-plural when they are pre-modified by another quantitative word (five foot tall, two
pound fifty). Many nouns originating in Greek or Latin have retained their foreign inflection for plural (e.g.
radius – radii; formula – formulae; stratum – strata; index – indices/indexes; oasis – oases; criterion – criteria;
stimulus – stimuli; erratum – errata; curriculum - curricula).

Plural of compound nouns can be put on the last element (assistant director – assistant directors; babysitter -
babysitters; breakdown - breakdowns), first element (notary public – notaries public; man-of-war – men-of-war;
passer-by – passers-by), first or last element (Attorney General – Attorneys General/ Attorney Generals;
mother-in-law – mothers-in-law/ mother-in-laws ), or there are also appositional compounds (gentleman farmer
– gentlemen farmers; manservant – menservants; woman doctor – women doctors).



Here we distinguish between male, female, and neuter character of the referent which expresses the noun.
When we compare English and Slovak, English gender is biological / natural whereas Slovak gender is
grammatical i.e. the gender need not to relate to the sex of the entity. It is prescriptive and systemic, not
natural e.g. macka – she; stol – he. In English not only nouns, but also pronouns may express gender
(personal pronouns – he, she, it; possessive pronouns – his, her, its; reflexive pronouns – himself, herself,
itself; relative pronouns – which, who. In both English and Slovak there are three genders. Also, both of these
languages have unmarked (žena / muž; bachelor / spinster) and marked gender (host / hostess, dobrodinka /
dobrodinec, actor / actress, count / countess, dutch / duchess).

Common gender = noun with common gender can be referred to as he, she, or it (child, baby)

Dual gender = if a noun includes male and female gender (student, teacher).

A common process in English is personification = inanimate objects can be personified e.g. cars, ships,
countries, cities, towns – we usually consider them feminine. Female personification evokes positive qualities
while male evokes negative qualities e.g. female: liberty, nature, mercy, victory; male: death, anger, despair,
war, murder. Also in reference to an object to which the speaker has a positive emotional attitude we use she
e.g. a pipe, the car, a machine and the like. Domestic animals are usually denoted according to their sex.

In present day English, also names of countries are often feminine (Britain, Slovakia, The United States), but
sometimes also neuter. Ship are feminine even if they have a masculine name (I saw the Prince of Wales as
she was sinking to the bottom.). Another exception is providing the nouns with the gender appropriate to the
respective nouns in Latin e.g. the sun – he; the moon – she. The names of mountains and rivers are often
referred to as he. In some cases, however, in accordance with Latin names rivers are personified as women.


Nouns and their secondary categories

Case expresses relations between words in a sentence. There are two cases in English for nouns
(nominative, genitive) and three cases for pronouns (nominative, genitive, dative). The other cases are
expressed by prepositions, word order, etc.

Nominative is referred to as common case. It marks the subject of a verb or the predicate noun or adjective.

Genitive: usually expresses possession. It can be divided into: 1. Simple: mother’s book, father’s car, etc. 2.
Group: used with two or more coordinate nouns e.g. John and Mary’s wedding; or with post-modification e.g.
the teacher of music’s classroom 3. Local independent genitive: it usually refers to location (that’s why it is
called ‘local’) and it is elliptic (that’s why it is called ‘independent’) e.g. Go to the dentist’s; We will meet at Bill’s
4. Post-genitive (double genitive): some friends of Jim’s, several pupils of his.

Dative is used to indicate the noun to which something is given. It is expressed by preposition construction or
word order. E.g. I gave John a book; congratulate Peter; believe your neighbor; apologize to someone; belong
to someone.

Accusative is used to mark direct object of a transitive verb. It is usually expressed by word order e.g. I saw
an elephant.

Vocative is neither a category in English nor in Slovak. It is used to keep the relationship between the
speaker and the hearer when we address someone e.g. Peter, where are you? Ladies and gentleman let me

Locative is usually expressed by prepositions of, it, about, on (write about; think of)

Instrumental expresses the use of an instrument to perform something (I opened the door with a key; wipe with
a napkin; cut with knife;), it may also express source or cause (shake with fear; tremble with laughter). Typical
with instrumental are: with, by, through (pass through the door; call me by name; through an open gate)

Definiteness is normally expressed by using the definite article ‘the’, if the idea represented by the noun is
supposed to be known from the previous context or to be evident. There are, however, other means of
expressing definiteness: the use of proper names (John, London), demonstrative pronouns (that, these),
possessive pronouns (my, our, its), wh-determiner (which, whose, whatever etc.) and the negative determiner
(no). Indefiniteness refers to the contextual novelty and aspect of individualizing; it can be expressed by the
indefinite article a, as well as by some pronouns (e.g. one, some). If the definite and indefinite articles are

used to refer to the whole genus of referents (a cow gives milk, the elephant is a mammal), they are said to
have a generic function. Here we can speak also about countable nouns (express separable entities) and
non-countable nouns (some have countable, some non-countable equivalents e.g. zelenina = vegetable(s),
ihlicie = needle(s), potraviny, šaty.

Nouns can be divided into common and proper. Common can be count or non-count whereas proper nouns
refer to a single entity and should always be non-count (e.g. Paris, London). The difference between proper
nouns and proper names is that proper nouns consist of proper names. Proper names can be determined by
an article if there is a stressed feature of the object they represent e.g. The London I am speaking about…;


There are only two cases in English for nouns which are considered to be a grammatical category –
nominative and genitive. Genitive in English only determines or modifies the noun. In Slovak, there are six
As for the genitive case, contrary to Slovak, English does not accept the sequence determiner + genitive of
noun + head (e.g. ten Tomášov nápad = that Tom’s idea).
In Slovak we don’t distinguish between countable and uncountable nouns
There is no definite or indefinite article in Slovak


Verbs and their secondary categories
Semantic function of verbs is to express processes or changing qualities. Their grammatical function is to
stand as predicate of the sentence.

A tense is a grammatical category that locates a situation in time, to indicate when the situation takes place.
Contrary to Slovak language, which has three tenses, in English there are only two – present and preterit
(=past). Some linguists deny the existence of the future tense because, with its auxiliary will or shall, it has
preserved a sort of modal character. What Slovak doesn’t have and English does is the system of pre-tenses
= perfective forms (pre-present = present perfect; pre-past = past perfect). Closely related to tense is aspect.

Aspect expresses whether the verbal action has been restricted in its duration or not i.e. it reflects the way in
which meaning of a verb is viewed with respect to time. Aspect answers the question 'Is the event/state
described by the verb completed or is it continuing?' There are two types of aspect: perfective, imperfective
(=progressive), as well as their combination (perfective progressive – used when an action began in the past
and continues in the present e.g. I have been studying; she has been taking). All of them can be combined
with present, past and "future" tenses e.g. I have/had/ will have done it (perfective), I am/was/will be doing it
(progressive) e.g. Prestal plakat/Doplakal = he stopped crying (perfective); Zastrelili ho = They shot him
dead/They shot him down (perfective); Strielali do neho = They shot him (progressive).

English usually uses periphrastic constructions (PC) to express the aspect. PC is a device by which a
grammatical relationship is expressed by a free morpheme (one or more function words modifying a content
word), instead of being shown by inflection or derivation. For example, the English future tense is periphrastic;
it is formed with an auxiliary verb (shall or will) followed by the base form of the main verb.
i.e. an auxiliary
is used to support the main verb. E.g: Postával tam celé hodiny = he was standing there for hours (not a PC)
BUT He would stand there for hours (progressive aspect is expressed by a periphrastic construction). Will can
express perfectivity e.g. boys will be boys; such things will happen; accidents will happen.

In many cases, context plays an important role in revealing the aspectual character of the sentence. Thus the
sentence I saw him may express perfectivity (uvidel som ho) or imperfectivity (videl som ho). Aspect is not
very typical in English. It is developed, but it is more typical for Slovak (prefixes, suffixes e.g. nosím, nosievam
= progressive; odnesiem, prinesiem = perfective). Momentary aspect: Nesiem = I am carrying (progressive);
Iterative aspect (in Slovak): Nosím = I carry - something that is repeated; Frequentative aspect (in Slovak):
Nosievam = I carry - regularity expressed by the verbal action. English doesn't distinguish between iterative
aspect and frequentative aspect. In English we rather use periphrastic constructions or we may use pre-tense
(I have done my homework). Periphrastic constructions are more typical in English than in Slovak.


Verbs and their secondary categories

Verbal voice is a grammatical category opposing verbs as active or passive. The distinction between active
and passive voice refers only to sentences with a transitive verb. In order to form a passive verb phrase,
there is added the auxiliary be followed by the past participle (e.g. active: he calls – passive: he is called). At
the clause level, the active subject becomes the passive agent (the active subject need not be retained) and
the active object becomes the passive subject. Hence, for instance, the active sentence Peter stole my bicycle
has its passive counterpart My bicycle was stolen (by Peter). The active voice is the most common, unmarked
voice. Passive verb phrases are less common, however, they are more common in English than in Slovak. In
Slovak, the passive voice can be expressed either by the verb be plus passive participle (obchod je zavreny;
okno je otvorene) or by a reflexive verb: (auta sa vyrabaju).

Verbal mood expresses how the action stands in relation to objective reality. The number of moods in English
varies. In general, in English we distinguish four basic types of mood: indicative, imperative, subjunctive, and
conditional. The number of moods in English, however, varies. Lancaric, in his book, focuses on five of them:

1. Indicative = declarative function - it describes some state of affairs e.g. Peter works at home
2. Imperative = is used to issue commands or to give instructions e.g. Go home!
3. Subjunctive = used to refer to what the speaker is not sure about. In order to express the present
subjunctive the base verb form is used (I insist that he read that book)
4. Conditional = expresses hypothesis (If I had money I would buy a house)
5. Optative = expresses our wishes to which the factual reality does not conform (I wish I had known)

Deutschbein’s categorization of the English mood
: Indicative (=factive): represents verbal action reflecting
factual reality (t.j. oznamovacie vety) e.g. I go; Optative = expresses our wish. To this wish the factual reality
should conform but usually it does not e.g. May you be happy; If only…; I wish…; Irrealis = describes that the
predicative action is not conforming to the factual reality. These are conditional constructions: If I had learned I
would have known. We express a sort of hypothesis; Expectative = indicates that the action is expected to be
carried out in the future. E.g. He is sure to come. / He is likely to come.; Dubitative = expresses doubt or
uncertainty in respect to the expected materialization e.g. Who knows…; I wonder…; Voluntative = expresses
that we want another person to carry out an action. It refers to the imperative constructions of the typical
classification e.g. Go and ask him…; give me….A subgroup to this mood is abhorative mood which expresses
a specific kind of command in first person e.g. Let me see…¸Let’s go, Let us go. Each of Deutschbein’s
categories can be expressed in Slovak, but in Slovak we don’t have such grammatical categorization

z poznamok – treba vediet?

Form and function of adjectives and adverbs

Belong to open-word category: there is an unlimited number of them. From semantic point of view they
express quality or relationship to the object described. Syntactically they function as predicates or attributes:

Attributes (as pre-modifiers of the head of the noun phrase): adjectives converted from nouns are usually
used attributively (table tennis, town school). Attributive position usually represents a permanent quality
(valuable picture, he is a nice person). This type of modification can be divided into: Direct = we directly
qualify/change/modify the meaning of the object e.g. that sick child – it means not any child, but one concrete,
sick child. Indirect = sick room – a room cannot be sick, only people who go to the room – the modification
does not refer to the room but to the people.
Predicatively (as post-modifiers of a copular verb): usually those adjectives that start with “a-” (aloof, afraid,
alive, alone, asleep, awake, ashamed) are used only predicatively. Predicative position usually presents an
either neutral or momentary quality (I’m happy to meet you, they are happy together).
Central adjectives: have both attributive and predicative function (pretty, good, nice, beautiful e.g. that
woman is pretty/ a pretty woman). There are also polysemantic adjectives e.g. present situation (=súcasná) v.
the people present (=prítomný); an involved problem (=zložitý) v. people involved (=zahrnutý). The post-
positive use of adjectives may be also exemplified: the means available; the stars visible; the river navigable
(=splavná iba teraz; vždy splavná would be navigable river).

From semantic point of view they express a quality of the described object. From this point of view adjectives
are closest to verbs: he succeeds in doing something (verbal component) v. he is successful (adjective
component: both of these sentences contain different elements, but semantically they are the same. Similarly
to verbs (stative, dynamic), adjectives may be divided into: Actional (dynamic)= expresses some actional
quality; they are usually used with progressive aspect e.g. he is being nice; he is being thorough and Non-
actional (stative) = are never used with the progressive aspect or imperative married, divorced, dead.

Other functions of adjectives: Heads of noun phrases: if used with the definite article or demonstrative
pronoun; Complements: their syntactic function as subject or object complement; Objects: e.g. she admires
the mystical; Prepositional complements: when they follow a preposition e.g. between the young and the old;
Used to create verb-less clauses (adjective clauses): Unhappy with the results, she started learning more →
there is no subject, no verb. The typical S-V function in a sentence is represented by the adjective unhappy.;
Intensifiers: emphasize the quality: a true scholar, a true scientist, a great distraction, a slight effort;
Restrictive adjectives: restrict the reference of the noun e.g. a certain person, the only occasion, his chief
excuse. Adjectives can also function as a realization of verb-less clauses or exclamatory adjective clauses,
e.g. Unhappy with the results; how awesome!. Intensifying adjectives: emphasizers, amplifiers, down-toners
e.g. true, great, slight. Restrictive adjectives (restrict the reference of the noun): only, certain, chief.

(English is very similar to Slovak in terms of gradability)
Gradable adjectives: There are three main grades: positive, comparative, superlative. Gradability can either 1.
Use inflectional morphemes –er, -est or 2. More/most expressions accompanied with the article. Non-gradable
adjectives: Express the absolute quality of the object e.g. wooden. Here we speak also about: Absolute
comparative: they do not grade the primary quality – they express a new quality. Absolute comparative is
more common in Slovak than in English e.g. vyššie vzdelanie = higher education; mladšia generácia = younger
generation; nižšie rastliny = lower plants; starší clovek = elderly person; novšie fotografie = latest pictures;
vyššie ideály = high ideals. Contrary to Slovak, in English there exists a construction of substantivized
superlative and possessive pronoun after the preposition "at" e.g. First thing in the morning, I am not at my
brightest; On such occasions he is always at his most.

The ordering of modifiers is the same in English and Slovak. According to their position, we may divide
adjectives into: Pre-central: certain, definite, complete, the same, slight; Central: hungry, funny, empty, ugly,
stupid; Post-central: retired, sleeping, red; Pre-head: Austrian, experimental, political; e.g.: certain important
people; the same restricted income. Pre-central and central are more subjective, they present the quality from
our point of view. Post-central and pre-head are objective, they don’t present our view but a given fact.

Since adjectives are an open-class category we can create an unlimited number of them. We create them by:
suffixation (-ful, -al, -less, -ic, -atic) and conversion: table tennis, town school. Specific suffix –ly leads to
homomorphemism with adverbs i.e. some adverbs have the same form as adjectives. However, they are not
polysemantic words e.g. a friendly person – he behaves friendly / kindly boy – he behaves kindly/ weekly
magazine is issued weekly – they are not polysemantic, they mean the same. However, there are some
homomorphs where only the adverb takes the suffix –ly and these are polysemantic e.g. hard (=tažko,
usilovne) v. hardly (=sotva)

In a clause, adverbs can be either integrated into an element of the clause (modifiers of adverbs and
adjectives) or function themselves as an element of the clause (adverbials). Their semantic function is to
express time, place, manner, degree. Other semantic domains: linking adverbs (anyway, thus, however),
restrictive adverbs (just, only, even, also), stance adverbs (of course, probably, especially, particularly).

In respect to their structure, adverbs can be of three types of which two (simple, compound) are closed
classes and one is an open class (derivational): simple (well, just only, back, near, down), compound
(somewhere, therefore, herewith, whereupon), and derivational usually using suffix –ly but also other suffixes

(badly, oddly, interestingly, clockwise, northwards, schoolboy-fashion, sideways, cowboy-style). There are also
some fixed phrases which are used as adverbs. These phrases are invariant in form, and the component
words rarely retain their independent meaning e.g. of course, kind of, at last.

Adverbs as modifiers can pre-modify an adjective (as an emphatic word in extremely dangerous, pretty good;
This is slightly larger than what we expected; He's a deeply sick man) or, less frequently, post-modify it (old
enough, tasty indeed, the meeting yesterday). They also serve as modifiers of other adverbs (He did that really
fast; She almost always comes late). Although adverbs most commonly modify adjectives or other adverbs,
they also serve as modifiers of noun phrases (It came as quiet a surprise), pronouns (Almost nobody, it
seemed, could eat it), prepositional phrases (But there's a hell of a lot – well into their seventies), particles, and
numerals (there were approximately 250 people) or measurements (It is estimated that roughly one quarter
is…). Adverbs can also function as a complement of a preposition: you can't go through here, can you?
There's another one over there; until now I didn’t realize…; before long he met a girl from Texas
Adverbs as clause elements function as adverbials: circumstance adverbials (add something about the action
or state e.g. from here, for a week, right now), stance adverbials (add speaker's comments e.g. in fact,
actually, certainly, in most cases), and linking adverbials (connecting function e.g. in addition, in sum, in spite
of, nevertheless).


In Slovak, adjectives have marked gender, number and case (pekna, pekny, pekne, pekneho), no such thing
exists in English
Slovak and English adverbials are very similar. A small difference is in words such as tak, teda - they have
no equivalents in English: tak teda zacneme – Let's start.
Slovak adverbs expressing modality have very often the same meaning as English modal verbs: Si urcite
unaveny – you must be tired; mozno, ze ich nieco zdrzalo – they may have been delayed



There are many definitions of sentence. Bloomfield: an independent linguistic form that is not included in any
larger form. Mathesius stresses the functional character of a sentence: it is an elementary speech utterance,
through which speaker reacts to some reality, concrete or abstract, and which in its formal character appears
to realize grammatical possibilities of the respective language and to be subjectively, that is, from the point of
view of the speaker complete. Sentences can be divided according to two main criteria: their function and

Functional categorization of sentences
From the functional point of view sentences are divided into declarative (used to make statements),
interrogative (used to ask questions), imperative (used to issue commands), and exclamative (used to express

From the formal point of view sentences are simple or multiple. Simple sentences typically contain one
subject and one predicate (e.g. the students can hear the teacher). Multiple sentences consist of two or more
clauses. They are of two kinds: compound and complex. In compound sentences the constituent clauses are
grammatically co-ordinate, none of them being dependent on the other but all being in sequence, with or
without coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, for, yet, so). In complex sentences the main clause is
modified by one or more subordinate clauses grammatically dependent upon it and usually introduced by a
subordinate conjunction (if, when, although, because, even if, though, unless, since, as soon as,…).
Subordination can be illustrated by the following example: The fact that you are stupid makes you unsuitable
for this job. In this sentence the part that you are stupid is the subordinate clause.

Through the sentence we react to some piece of the extra-linguistic reality. The contact with this reality
constitutes new experience. This new experience is classified with regard to previously obtained experience.
According to FSP conception, a sentence consists of two main parts: basis and nucleus. The basis /theme/
refers to what is known from the previous context, or what is evident. The nucleus /rheme/ contributes to the
knowledge of the hearer or reader. Thus if one asks Where is your wife?, in the answer My wife left for work,
the nominal phrase my wife is the theme because it stands for what was referred to in the precious context
and the part left for work functions as the rheme because it brings about new information. Transition is
represented by the temporal or modal exponent of the verb. Communicative dynamism is a property of an
expression that reflects its relative degree of importance in comparison with other expressions in the sentence
attributed to it by the speaker. Theme has the lowest degree of communicative dynamism because it only
refers to something mentioned before. Transition has a medium communicative dynamism. Rheme has the
highest. The theme-transition-rheme sequence is the basic distribution of communicative dynamism.

There has a special function in FSP. It is used to express the rhematic function of the proper subject: na
veceru bol iba chlieb s maslom – there was only bread and butter for dinner. The proper subject is often post-
modified by: A. a relative clause: niektore problemy som nikdy nevyriesil – there are some problems that I've
never solved. B. present participle: there was another strip of garden running along the river bank – pozdlz rieky
sa tiahol dalsi pas zahrady. C. infinitive: of course, there were things to worship everywhere. Not only verb +
there, but other intransitive verbs may be combined with 'there': there still exist things that surprise me; next
door there lives an old woman. If an adverb heads the sentence, 'there' can be omitted: na stene visia obrazy
– there are pictures on the wall / on the wall are some pictures.

One-element sentences are sentences where the subject is not expressed, information about the subject is
provided by the verb form e.g. Je teplo. Klame. Hovori. One-element sentences are typical in Slovak, but they
are rare in English – they occur only in the form of elliptical constructions e.g. Don't know what to say. Told
you so. Want a drink? As a result, many Slovak one-element sentences have two-element counter-parts in
English e.g. Cita. – He reads. One-element sentences in English have rather a colloquial character.

Subject is mostly expressed by a noun or a pronoun. It may be expressed by an adverb, infinitive, gerund, or
dependent clause: To go / going to school is not my favorite activity. Slovak one-element sentences can be
expressed by English two-element subject-less sentences containing a subject-less 'it': A. deictic it – refers to
a phenomenon of the extra-linguistic reality e.g. it is your book. B. anaphoric it – represents a noun mentioned
before: There is a black dog. It is mine. C. anticipatory it – replaces the subject which is infinitive or gerund
e.g. it is raining; it is dealing with. (two-element sentences).


A sentence that contains theme and rheme of an utterance is a two-element sentence. However, there are
also one-element sentences, which contain only one of the two basic elements.


One-element sentences
result from the omission of one of the two basic elements, because its expression is either unnecessary or
impossible. It results from incompleteness. E.g. The speaker tells a piece of news to which the hearer
responds: "Nonsense!" – this sentence contains only the rheme, the theme being what the first speaker said
before. This theme is not expressed; the second speaker did not refer to it since he did not consider it
necessary. Other instances of the appeal to the hearer are subject-less clauses functioning like an
interjectional formula, e.g. Thank you. Welcome. Sorry. Another common type resulting from incompleteness
can be exemplified as: a schoolboy comes home from school and says tearfully: "Teacher…" and there his
sobs choke him. This is a fragment of a sentence that has been limited to one element, but only because the
expression of the other element has been prevented by strong emotion. This is an irregular one-element
structure. It does not result in a sentence but only in a fragment of a sentence containing only theme of the

Two-element sentences
In regular two-element sentences that contain the theme and the rheme it is of importance in which order
these two elements are arranged. Two arrangements are possible:

theme – rheme: takes into account the hearer: the speaker starts from what is known and proceeds
to what is new. This is so-called objective order. It is used in unemotional narration: Once upon a
time there was a king. And the king had two sons.
rheme – theme: used in excitement. First the speaker states the new element of the intended
statement and only afterwards adds the known elements. This is subjective order. E.g. Two sons the
king had. And the world the sons wanted to see.

Contrary to English, in Slovak there is often used general subject (hovori sa, povrava sa) which does not
identify a particular person. In English as well as in Slovak, general subject is rather expressed by means of
the passive sentence construction or the pronoun 'we'. English also uses pronouns such as 'you', 'they', 'one'.
Other means are: 'people', 'a man', 'a fellow'. They correspond to Slovak 'clovek'.
The relationship between verb and subject is rather free in English. The subject need not be the agent but the
place in which the action is being carried out: I am cold; I am unwell.
The fact that the English subject is closely connected with the thematic function leads to using personal
expressions in those situations in which Slovak has an impersonal sentence expressing the indirect affection
of the subject: zda sa mi to lahke – I find it easy; srdce mi bije od radosti – I feel my heart beating with joy; ako
vam chuti toto vino? – how do you find this wine?
In many other situations the subject no longer has the function denoting an agent; its main function is to
express the theme of the statement: tesi ma – I am pleased; je mi luto – I am sorry; bolo mi zima – I was cold.


Word order and sentence condensation

In English there are three main principles according to which word order is determined: Grammatical principle:
the English sentence was grammaticalized i.e. each element has its position in the sentence (S-V-O).
Functional sentence perspective principle: English sentences usually start with theme (=information known
from the previous context) followed by rheme. The grammatical and FSP principles do not always agree. The
result is that there are many passive sentences in English – on the contrary to Slovak language. Emotive
principle: exists in both languages and is used when we want to emphasize; we usually start a sentence with
semantically heavier element, something we want to emphasize e.g. pretty difficult work it was, aj z fyziky
dostal nedostatocnú, poriadne tažká práca to bola. Word order may be obligatory inverted in some sentences:

Inversion = we start a sentence with a predicate, predicative auxiliary verb or dummy obligatory "do" - used in
interrogative sentences such as questions or tag questions, negative constructions or subjunctive sentences
(May you be happy, Long live the king – usually they are fixed phrases). With declarative sentences inversion
is in some cases obligatory: a. When we start a sentence with negative or semi-negative such as never,
rarely, scarcely, seldom – Never do I go to school; b. When we start a sentence with existential "there"
(used to state the existence or occurrence of something) e.g. There is a book on the table c. Confirming
sentences such as Neither do I; So is he; So were we; etc. Also tag questions may have confirming function
e.g. I am your friend, aren't I? There is one case in which inversion is often used but it is not obligatory and it
is when direct speech is interrupted e.g. "I want to know" said he "if she's alone." With this type of inversion we
don't use auxiliaries.

To manipulate with word order we use also:

Fronting = placing in initial position a clause element which is normally found after the verb. Fronting is
relatively rare in English, and it is almost always in declarative main clauses (except for wh-words). Fronting
has an intensifying effect. E.g. this I don't understand; the people next door; what it was that changed his mind;

Clefting = the information is broken into two clauses, each with its own verb. Clefts are used to bring
particular elements of the clause into additional focus, often for contrast. E.g. it was his voice that helped me;
what I don’t like is his attitude; what I really need is another credit card

Ellipsis = omission of some elements of the clause e.g. You serious?; I'd love to (go); She lost it, but I still don't
know how or why (she lost it); Do you have money? No, I don't (have any money). What she say?


Means of sentence condensation (multiple sentences are condensed to simple) in English are infinitive
constructions, gerunds and participles (also ellipsis – see previous section). They are closely connected
with nominal tendencies of English and its economical expressing. Slovak uses finite verb forms instead of
the condensers e.g. No more revision – uz ziadne opakovanie

Infinitive constructions
To – construction: the subject of the first clause corresponds with the subect of the second clause: povedal
mi, aby som prišiel (multiple sentence in Slovak) – He told me to come; He works hard (so that he earns) to
earn his living. For – construction: the subject of the first clause doesn't correspond with the subject of the
second clause: Nechám otvorené dvere, aby si pocul dieta ked bude plakat. – I will leave the door open for you
to hear the baby crying. The condensing capacity of the English infinitive can be seen in its perfective form,
this infinitive, however, has future passive meaning: This is the task to be done. (Toto je úloha, ktorú je treba
urobit/bude treba urobit.) These are the books to be published. (Tieto knihy sú na publikovanie.)

Present participle functions as another condensing means e.g. being a stranger in this place he couldn’t …
(Kedže bol cudzincom / Súc cudzincom na danom mieste…). The participle construction can also condense a
complex sentence in English in which the subject of the dependent clause need not to be identical with that of
the main clause: Kedže boli urobené všetky bezpecnostné opatrenia, nikto nemohol byt obvinený z nehody. –
All precautions having been taken no one could be blamed for the accident.

Gerund can be used also in Slovak: it is nominalised / substantivised form of the verb: Idúc do školy stretol
som kamaráta. It is not very common in everyday Slovak. On the other hand, it is often used in everyday
English: Would you mind opening the window? Would you mind me opening the window? Would you mind my
opening the window? Me – formal, my – more colloquial. (also in Would you mind me smoking? Would you
mind my smoking?) In Slovak it is used mostly in stylistically marked context (formal).

Slovak, too, has the verbal noun, the infinitive and the participles. Slovak verbal noun behaves just as any
other noun with the same ending. It displays no special features and consequently it does not call for special
treatment in Slovak grammar. The Slovak infinitive is a form that has a much more verbal character than the
verbal noun, nevertheless its use is relatively limited.


Nominal tendencies and form and function of grammatical predicate

English sentences contain a number of nominal elements used, for instance, in the place of predicative verbs
(have breakfast, take a shower) = nominal tendency.

Predicate = provides information about the subject, what the subject is doing or what the subject is like. The
predicate contains a verb and the verb requires, permits, or precludes other sentence elements to complete
the predicate. English predication has the tendency to be nominal e.g. do the cooking, have breakfast. There
are three types of predication:

Actional – its function is to express the action, the process carried out by the agent. English actional
predication can be of two categories: A category – both action and the agent are expressed within one single,
usually within the rhematic, part of the sentence: There was a constant accumulation of evidence in his favor. –
using existential construction 'there' - There has been a sharp rise in gold prises. – the proper subject is “a
sharp rise” – both agent and action are presented as something new – in rhematic part and B category - the
role of action and of the agent is distributed between theme and rheme: You will do the shopping today –
'you' (thematic part), 'will do the shopping' (predicative part, rheme); The committee have (has) the situation
well in hand – 'the committee' (agent, theme), 'has the situation well in hand' (action, rhematic part)
Qualifying predication – its function is to express some features of the agent, to qualify the agent: father is ill
(father – subject; ill - quality), the child is safe and sound. (safe and sound - predication); this view is splendid.
(is splendid - predication). Copular verbs are typical for this type of predication

Genuine and non-genuine classification of the subject: Genuine – both the head of the predicate and
its modifiers contribute to the knowledge of the receiver e.g. Shaw was the most celebrated British
playwright of the century. 'Shaw' – subject; 'playwright' – head of the predicate; 'the most celebrated
British' – pre-modifier; 'of the century' – post-modifier. The head of the predicate is new information,
but also all of the modifiers contribute to the information. Non-genuine – the predicate in which only
modifier or only head add a new information, new quality of the subject: His father was a wise man. –
only modifier contributes to the information about subject, head of the predicate is man, modifiers:
wise – only modifier informs us about his father.

A subtype of qualifying predication is identifying predication mostly introduced by a demonstrative
pronouns these, this, that which usually function as the thematic part of sentence: This is my library.
These are my friends.

Possessive predication – expresses possession, both English and Slovak are of habere (infinitive of
mat/have in Latin) types of language: I have a house. Mám dom. – verbal type of predication, besides

this type there exists also nominal type - have/mat can be substituted by another expression: in
possession of, byt vo vlastníctve – rather formal constructions.

Concord of the predicate
In both, English and Slovak subject and predicate are concorded i.e. if a sentence starts with a subject in
singular, the predicative verb is also in singular. If it starts with plural, the predicative verb also has to be in
plural. Not all grammatical categories are marked in English (e.g. gender, person – only 3
person is marked)
but usually number is concorded in both languages.
In case of multiple subjects (boys and girls, John and Mary), the predicative verb is in plural.
The multiple subject can be coordinated – the relationship between one subject and the other constituent of
the subject is coordinated – in such case the form of the predicative verb depends on the constituent which
stands closer to the verb: either he or you are mistaken / either you or he is mistaken; a book or flowers always
make a welcome present / flowers or a book always makes a welcome present.
In case of modification of the subject (modification can be simple or multiple) the predicative verb is either
singular or plural: nestranná a presná výpoved / príbeh udalosti bola podaná Jožkom - impartial and exact
account of the event was given by John; slovenská a anglická kuchyna sa podstatne líšia - Slovak and English
cooking are rather different. / differ significantly. – here we speak about two subjects
Expressions following a number of, majority of, a lot of, lots of… are concorded according to the substantive
after the preposition 'of': Large number of students are granted scholarship. Plenty of fruit is imported. The
majority of people seem to prefer watching games.

Slovak predication need not be completed/preceded by the subject
English predication has the tendency to be nominal while Slovak predicate is verbal: have breakfast –
ranajkovat; take a shower – sprchovat sa; do the cooking – navarit
Also Slovak predication can be divided into functional, qualifying, and possessive


Comparison of English and Slovak languages

English Slovak
Analytic language:
grammatical categories are
expressed by word order

Way of expressing grammatical
Synthetic language:
It synthesizes morphemes in order
to show grammatical categories
English sentences have a
tendency towards condensation
(gerund, present participle, to-
infinitive, etc.). English tries to
eliminate depended clauses.

English sentences have a
tendency towards nominalization
i.e. contain many nominal
elements in the predicate


Slovak sentences have a
tendency to use dependent
clauses in cases where English
uses condensation

The predicate is typically verbal
English has a tendency towards
monosyllabism. Very often
English words are stressed on the
syllable (if there are more
stresses usually the main stress is
on 1
syllable) and the end
remains unexpressed – this led to
their formal weakening and
creation of many monosyllabic

On the other hand, from the
semantic point of view, these
monosyllabic words tend to extend
their meaning i.e. they have a
tendency towards polysemy. The
meaning is strongly dependent on
the context.


Slovak language doesn't have so
many monosyllabic words as
English, polysyllabic words are
common. As a result, polysemy is
not as common as in English but
on the other hand, Slovak words
are more expressive and
English grammar is of Germanic
type; it uses a number of strong
verbs or ablauts that do not exist


The whole stem of the word is

in Slovak e.g. sing-sang-sung
English words have a tendency
towards conversion e.g. back =
noun, verb, adverb, adjective, etc.

Parts of speech Conversion is not so typical
English nouns are typically
stressed on 1
syllable i.e. if we
want to change the grammatical
category of the word we change
the stress e.g. record, import

Stress can't distinguish two word
English gender is biological i.e. it
only relates to the sex character
of the entity

Gender Slovak gender is grammatical
English has progressive and
perfect tense forms
Verb system Verb system is based on the
concept of aspect
English system of articles is very
Articles There are no articles
Spelling is different that
Pronunciation Pronunciation can be predicted
from the spelling of words
Plural is formed with –s or -es Number There are different endings to
mark plural
English has only two cases
marked as a grammatical
category: nominative and genitive
Cases There are six cases in Slovak
English has a relatively fixed word
Syntax Changing in composition of words
English has 12 vowel sounds (5
long , 7 short – a, e, i, o, u, ə, æ),
eight diphthongs (ai, ei, oi, əu, au,
iə, eə, uə), and 5 triphthongs (eiə,
aiə, oiə, auə, əuə)

Both, English and Slovak
distinguish between long and
short vowels.
Slovak has 11 vowel sounds (a,
á, ä, e, é, i, í, o, ó, u, ú), 4
diphthongs (ia, ie, iu, ô) and no

The Ɵ and ð sounds do not exist
in Slovak