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University of Split Faculty of Philosophy

DANICA KARA, PhD e-mail:


Lectures: Tuesday, 13:15-14:00 Seminars: 14:15:30 Office hours: Tuesday, 12:15-13:15

Split, 2012

Course information Course title Course code Type of course Level of course Year of study ECTS (Number of credits allocated) Name of lecturer Second year 5 ECTS Semester/trimester spring term (2011)

HZE301 compulsory

Danica kara, PhD (full professor) e-mail: Students achieve basic knowledge about the formal and Learning outcomes functional structure of English sentences. and competences Students, also, acquire skills in problem solving and the scientific method. In addition, students will be able analyze the cohesion of sentences in connected text. Prerequisites Course contents Introduction to linguistics, Morphology The purpose of this course is to introduce basic concepts of syntax , considering both functional and formal aspects. In this class, we will study several issues that were prominent in syntactic debates: 1. Syntactic categories at the word level 2. Syntactic categories at the phrase level 3. Clause structure and function 4. Simple sentences 5. The structure of simple sentences 6. Negation 7. Complex/compound sentences 8. Different types of complex/compound sentences 9. Students are, also, acquainted with different types of sentences used in oral speech: elliptical, abbrevated sentences, etc.

10. Basic notions of generative linguistcs will be introduced. Recommended reading Quirk, R. & Greenbaum, S. (1993): A University Grammar of English. London, Longman (Selected chapters) Baker, C.L. (1995), English Syntax, Cambridge Mass.: MIT Press (Selected chapters). Teacher-generated materials: script, web page, online material and slides Leech, G. & Svartvik J. (1975): A Communicatice Grammar of English, London: Longman. (selected chapters) van Valin, R. (2001): Introduction to Syntax. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (selected chapters) Visual Interactive Syntax Learning Lectures and tutorials, seminars, workshop, internet, multimedia Written exam, seminar paper, regular class attendance and active participation in class discussions, assignments handed in on time Coursework : 70% (Assignments involving linguistic data analysis.) Examination: 30% (one 2-hr exam) English Self-evaluation, University evaluation Lectures Hours 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

Supplementary reading

Teaching methods Assessment methods

Language of instruction Quality assurance methods

Week Week 1: Week 2: Week 3: Week 4: Week 5 Week 6 Week 6 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12:

Teaching units Introduction/ course overview An introduction to word class Introducing phrases Clauses Sentences The structure of simple sentences Sentence patterns from a functional perspective Negation Midterm exam Complex/compound sentences Coordination and subordination Elliptical, abbrevated sentences

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Week 13: Exam : June 2012


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Test Grades 100% - 90% 89% - 80% 79% - 70% 69% - 60% 59% - 00%

What is Language? Language, the principal means used by human beings to communicate with one another. Language can be spoken or written .

A language is a set (finite or infinite) of sentences, each finite in length and constructed out of a finite set of elements. Noam Chomsky (1957) The ability of humans to use language is innate (an instinct). We are prewired to use language! Noam Chomsky

1. Some Remarks on the Essence of Human Language

One of the crucial functions of any human language is to convey various kinds of information from the everyday to the highly academic. Language provides a means for us to describe how to understand our reality. We commonly consider certain properties of language to be key essential features from which the basic study of linguistics starts. The first well-known property (as emphasized by Saussure 1916) is that there is no motivated relationship between sounds and meanings. This is simply observed in the fact that the same meaning is usually expressed by a different sounding-word in a different language (think of house, maison, casa). For words such as hotdog, desk, dog, bike, hamburger, cranberry, sweetbread, their meanings have nothing to do with their shapes. For example, the word hotdog has no relationship with a dog which is or feels hot.
There is just an arbitrary relationship between the words sound and its meaning: this relationship is decided by the convention of the community the speakers belong to. The second important feature of language, and one more central to syntax, is that language makes infinite use of finite set of rules or principles, the observation of which led the development of generative linguistics in the 20th century (cf. Chomsky 1965).

A language is a system for combining its parts in infinitely many ways. One piece of evidence of the system can be observed in word-order restrictions. If a sentence is an arrangement of words and we have 5 words such as man, ball, a, the, and kicked, how many possible combinations can we have from these five words? a. The man kicked a ball. b. A man kicked the ball. c. The ball kicked a man. d. A ball kicked the man. e. The ball, a man kicked. f. The man, a ball kicked a. *Kicked the man the ball. b. *Man the ball kicked the. c. *The man a ball kicked. It is clear that there are certain rules in English for combining words. These rules constrain which words can be combined together or how they may be ordered, sometimes in groups, with respect to each other.

What is linguistics?
The scientific study of human language, including: Phonetics and phonology are concerned with the study of speech sounds. Within psycholinguistics, research focuses on how the brain processes and understands these sounds. Morphology is the study of word structures, especially the relationships between related words (such as dog and dogs) and the formation of words based on rules (such as plural formation). Syntax is the study of the patterns which dictate how words are combined together to form sentences. Semantics deals with the meaning of words and sentences. Where syntax is concerned with the formal structure of sentences, semantics deals with the actual meaning of sentences. Pragmatics is concerned with the role of context in the interpretation of meaning. English grammar is the body of rules that describe the structure of expressions in the English language. This includes the structure of words, phrases, clauses and sentences. The grammar of a language is approached in several ways: descriptive grammar is based on analysis of text corpora and describes grammatical structures thereof, whereas prescriptive grammar attempts to use the identified rules of a given language as a tool to govern the linguistic behaviour of speakers. All native speakers have a grammatical competence which can generate an infinite set of grammatical sentences from a finite set of resources.

This hypothesis has been generally accepted by most linguists, and has been taken as the subject matter of syntactic theory. In terms of grammar, this grammatical competence is hypothesized to characterize a generative grammar, which we then can define as follows: Generative Grammar: An English generative grammar is the one that can generate an infinite set of wellformed English sentences from a finite set of rules or principles. The job of syntax is thus to discover and formulate these rules or principles.5 These rules tell us how words are put together to form grammatical phrases and sentences. Generative grammar, or generative syntax, thus aims to define these rules which will characterize all of the sentences which native speakers will accept as well-formed and grammatical. This approach to language was pioneered by Noam Chomsky. Most generative theories (although not all of them) assume that syntax is based upon the constituent structure of sentences. Generative grammars are among the theories that focus primarily on the form of a sentence, rather than its communicative function.

Generative grammars are among the theories that focus primarily on the form of a sentence, rather than its communicative function.

Functionalist grammars Functionalist theories, although focused upon form, are driven by explanation based upon the function of a sentence (i.e. its communicative function).


What is Syntax?? The word syntax derives from the Greek word syntaxis, which means arrangement. Morphology deals with word formation out of morphemes; syntax deals with phrase and sentence formation out of words. Why Do We Study Syntax and What Is It Good for? There are many reasons for studying syntax, from general humanistic or behavioral motivations to much more specific goals such as those in the following: . To help us to illustrate the patterns of English more effectively and clearly. .

To enable us to analyze the structure of English sentences in a systematic and explicit way.

What is a sentence?? Although everyone knows or thinks they know what a word is and what a sentence is, both terms defy exact definition. The sentence as a linguistic concept has been defined in over 200 different ways, none of them completely adequate. Here are the most important attempts at defining the sentence: The traditional, or common sense definition states that a sentence is a group of words that expresses a thought . The problem comes in defining what a thought is. The phrase an egg expresses a thought but is it a sentence? A sentence like I closed the door because it was cold expresses two thoughts and yet it is one sentence. A hierarchically organized structure of words that maps sound to meaning and vice versa. The grammatical definition of the sentence is the largest unit to which syntactic rules can apply. In terms of syntactic categories, most sentences--at least in English-- can be divided into a subject and a predicate. Another problem with grammatical, or syntactic, definitions of the sentence is that not all sentences--even in English--are divisible into subject and predicate. Some sentence types make no internal syntactic structure; there is no distinction between subject and predicate: a) Emotive sentences such as Gee! Wow. Darn! Yes! No! b) Imperatives: Go! Leave! Taxi! All aboard! Down with alcohol! c) Elliptic sentences: Who took the car? John. d) small talk phrases: Hello. Good-bye. Good morning. Types of sentences a) a simple sentence contains at least one subject and one predicate: John read Pushkin. b) a compound sentence is two or more simple sentences joined into a single sentence: John read Pushkin and Mary read Updike. They may be joined by a coordinating conjunction such as and or or, or asyndetically (without a conjunction). c) a complex sentence is a sentence in which one of the syntactic roles is played by an embedded sentence: I made students read Chomsky. The simple sentence students 9

read Chomsky plays the role of object of the verb made. Because the syntax of the two parts of a complex sentence is intertwined, it is often not possible to divide them into two free-standing simple sentences. *I made. Students read Chomsky. I saw Mary run.

Sentence and clause Syntax is concerned with the way words combine to from sentences. sentence = largest unit of syntax; (intuitively understood concept) a syntactically related group of words that expresses an assertion, a question, a command, a wish or an exclamation usually begins with a capital letter and ends with a period, question or exclamation mark. clause = basic syntactic construction consisting of a subject and a main, co-ordinated or subordinated clause. predicate; occurs as

phrase= a word or a group of words without a subject and predicate but functioning as a unit in a sentence word = smallest unit of syntax; (intuitively understood concept)

The hierarchical structure of English grammar

DISCOURSE SENTENCE The whole class went to the beach after the exam finished. MAIN CLAUSE CLAUSE The whole class went to the beach VERB PHRASE PHRASE went to the beach PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE PHRASE to the beach The whole class went to the beach after the exam finished. After that we hit the clubs until 5am. COMPLEX SENTENCE



Ambiguity Two kinds of ambiguity: She called her (boyfriend (from Australia)). STRUCTURAL AMBIGUITY

We went down to the bank yesterday LEXICAL AMBIGUITY

Parts of Speech: Syntactic classes of words are traditionally called parts of speech. English has the following parts of speech: verb, noun, adjective, adverb, pronoun, preposition, articles, interjections major word classes: V, N (and pronouns), Adj, Adv, Prep minor word classes: subordinators, coordinators, determinative, numeral, Major parts-of-speech are marked for the HEAD feature



Determining the Lexical Categories Words can be classified into different lexical categories according to three criteria: meaning, morphological form, and syntactic function. Every lexical entry at least includes phonological, morphological, syntactic, and semantic information. At first glance, it seems that words can be classified depending on their meaning. For example, we could have the following rough semantic criteria for N (noun), V (verb), A (adjective), and Adv (adverb):


a. N: referring to an individual or entity b. V: referring to an action c. A: referring to a property

Word classes noun: bird, freedom, uncle, walk, Henry, farmer, sand verb: walk, swim, cycle, ride, consider, think, perceive, write adjective: preposition: coordinator: pronoun: numeral: interjection: blue, exhausted, painful, big, strong, powerful in, on, at, under, after, amongst, like, since and, but, or, nor we, her, mine, his, who, someone, which three, third oops, , wow adverb:hard, hardly, happily, very, however, up, merely

subordinator: that, because although, since article: the, a, an

Noun: Person, place, or thing Verb: Action, occurrence or state of being Adjective: modifier that expresses quality, quantity or extent. Adverb: modifier that expresses manner, quality, place, time, degree, number, cause, opposition, affirmation or denial 13

Preposition: modifier that indicates location or origin. A more reliable approach is to characterize words in terms of their forms and functions. The form-based criteria look at the morphological form of the word in question: a. N: + plural morpheme -(e)s b. N: + possessive s c. V: + past tense -ed or 3rd singular -(e)s d. V: + 3rd singular -(e)s e. A: + -er/est (or more/most)

Function of words: Subject, object, predicate and predicator name syntactic functions which are realized by a certain type of word, or a phrase, or a type of clause. [ [The mother] subject [the little boy] indirect object [a balloon] direct object ]predicate]sentence

Phrases We analyse sentences as consisting of smaller units (constituents) which are called phrases.

Phrases-consists at least of one word but may contain other phrases Phrases have constituents constituents have functions constituents have realizations Diagramming sentences, how to deal with ambiguity Parsing using parentheses to show syntactic relations can disambiguate such a phrase as: old men and women



Constitue ncy
CONSTITUENT a group of words in a sentence that behave syntactically and semantically as a unit.
dog has stick I have stick

scratched the dog with a stick

scratched the dog with a stick

Criteria for Word Classes We use a combination of three criteria for determining the word class of a word: 1. The meaning of the word 2. The form or `shape' of the word 3. The position or `environment' of the word in a sentence 1. Meaning Using this criterion, we generalize about the kind of meanings that words convey. For example, we could group together the words brother and car, as well as David, house, and London, on the basis that they all refer to people, places, or things. In fact, this has traditionally been a popular approach to determining members of the class of nouns. It has also been applied to verbs, by saying that they denote some kind of "action", like cook, drive, eat, run, shout, walk. This approach has certain merits, since it allows us to determine word classes by replacing words in a sentence with words of "similar" meaning. For instance, in the sentence My son 15

cooks dinner every Sunday, we can replace the verb cooks with other "action" words: My son cooks dinner every Sunday My son prepares dinner every Sunday My son eats dinner every Sunday My son misses dinner every Sunday On the basis of this replacement test, we can conclude that all of these words belong to the same class, that of "action" words, or verbs. However, this approach also has some serious limitations. The definition of a noun as a word denoting a person, place, or thing, is wholly inadequate, since it excludes abstract nouns such as time, imagination, repetition, wisdom, and chance. Similarly, to say that verbs are "action" words excludes a verb like be, as in I want to be happy. What "action" does be refer to here? So although this criterion has a certain validity when applied to some words, we need other, more stringent criteria as well. 2. The form or `shape' of a word Some words can be assigned to a word class on the basis of their form or `shape'. For example, many nouns have a characteristic -tion ending: action, condition, contemplation, demonstration, organization, repetition Similarly, many adjectives end in -able or -ible: acceptable, credible, miserable, responsible, suitable, terrible Many words also take what are called INFLECTIONS, that is, regular changes in their form under certain conditions. For example, nouns can take a plural inflection, usually by adding an -s at the end: car -- cars dinner -- dinners book -- books Verbs also take inflections: walk -- walks -- walked -- walking 3. The position or `environment' of a word in a sentence This criterion refers to where words typically occur in a sentence, and the kinds of words which typically occur near to them. We can illustrate the use of this criterion using a simple example. Compare the following: [1] I cook dinner every Sunday [2] The cook is on holiday


In [1], cook is a verb, but in [2], it is a noun. We can see that it is a verb in [1] because it takes the inflections which are typical of verbs: I cook dinner every Sunday I cooked dinner last Sunday I am cooking dinner today My son cooks dinner every Sunday And we can see that cook is a noun in [2] because it takes the plural -s inflection The cooks are on holiday If we really need to, we can also apply a replacement test, based on our first criterion, replacing cook in each sentence with "similar" words: I cook dinner every Sunday The cook is on holiday

I eat dinner every Sunday The chef is on holiday I prepare dinner every Sunday The gardener is on holiday I miss dinner every Sunday The doctor is on holiday Notice that we can replace verbs with verbs, and nouns with nouns, but we cannot replace verbs with nouns or nouns with verbs: *I chef dinner every Sunday *The eat is on holiday It should be clear from this discussion that there is no one-to-one relation between words and their classes. Cook can be a verb or a noun -- it all depends on how the word is used. In fact, many words can belong to more than one word class. Here are some more examples: She looks very pale (verb) She's very proud of her looks (noun) He drives a fast car (adjective) He drives very fast on the motorway (adverb) Turn on the light (noun) I'm trying to light the fire (verb) I usually have a light lunch (adjective) You will see here that each italicised word can belong to more than one word class. However, they only belong to one word class at a time, depending on how they are used. So it is quite wrong to say, for example, "cook is a verb". Instead, we have to say something like "cook is a verb in the sentence I cook dinner every Sunday, but it is a noun in The cook is on holiday". 17

Open and Closed Word Classes Some word classes are OPEN, that is, new words can be added to the class as the need arises. The class of nouns, for instance, is potentially infinite, since it is continually being expanded as new scientific discoveries are made, new products are developed, and new ideas are explored. In the late twentieth century, for example, developments in computer technology have given rise to many new nouns: Internet, website, URL, CD-ROM, email, newsgroup, bitmap, modem, multimedia New verbs have also been introduced: download, upload, reboot, right-click, double-click The adjective and adverb classes can also be expanded by the addition of new words, though less prolifically. On the other hand, we never invent new prepositions, determiners, or conjunctions. These classes include words like of, the, and but. They are called CLOSED word classes because they are made up of finite sets of words which are never expanded (though their members may change their spelling, for example, over long periods of time). The subclass of pronouns, within the open noun class, is also closed. Words in an open class are known as open-class items. Words in a closed class are known as closed-class items.



Words are the constituent elements of the next rank, phrases. At the phrase rank, we
discover that it is possible to analyze each structure in more than one way. To study this phenomenon more closely, we will look at phrase structure in English. English is a language with five classes of phrases, noun phrases, verb phrases, adjective phrases, adverb phrases, and prepositional phrases.

The Basic Structure of a Phrase


Phrases consist minimally of a Head. This means that in a one-word phrase like [children], the Head is children. In longer phrases, a string of elements may appear before the Head: [the small children] For now, we will refer to this string simply as the pre-Head string. A string of elements may also appear after the Head, and we will call this the post-Head string: [the small children in class 5] So we have a basic three-part structure: pre-Head string [the small Head children post-Head string in class 5]

Of these three parts, only the Head is obligatory. It is the only part which cannot be omitted from the phrase. To illustrate this, let's omit each part in turn:

pre-Head string [-*[the small [the small

Head children -children

post-Head string in class 5] in class 5] --]

Pre-Head and post-Head strings can be omitted, while leaving a complete noun phrase. We can even omit the pre- and post-Head strings at the same time, leaving only the Head:

pre-Head string [-This is still a complete noun phrase.

Head children

post-Head string --]


However, when the Head is omitted, we're left with an incomplete phrase (*the small in class five). This provides a useful method of identifying the Head of a phrase. In general, the Head is the only obligatory part of a phrase. Just as a noun functions as the Head of a noun phrase, a verb functions as the Head of a verb phrase, and an adjective functions as the Head of an adjective phrase, and so on. We recognise five phrase types in all:

Phrase Type Noun Phrase Verb Phrase Adjective Phrase Adverb Phrase

Head Noun Verb Adjective Adverb

Example [the children in class 5] [play the piano] [delighted to meet you] [very quickly]

Prepositional Phrase Preposition [in the garden]

For convenience, we will use the following abbreviations for the phrase types:

Phrase Type Noun Phrase Verb Phrase Adjective Phrase Adverb Phrase Prepositional Phrase

Abbreviation NP VP AP AdvP PP

Using these abbreviations, we can now label phrases as well as bracket them. We do this by putting the appropriate label inside the opening bracket: 21

[NP the small children in class 5] NOUN PHRASE (NP)

Like all phrases, the constituents of the English noun phrase can be analyzed into both
functional constituents and formal constituents. From a functional point of view, the noun phrase has four major components, occurring in a fixed order: the determinative, that constituent which determines the reference of the noun phrase in its linguistic or situational context; premodification, which comprises all the modifying or describing constituents before the head, other than the determiners; the head, around which the other constituents cluster; and postmodification, those which comprise all the modifying constituents placed after the head.

In the diagram below, notice that each functional component of a noun phrase (NP) can be
further subclassified as we trace the diagram from left to right until we find that we have form classes filling each constituent category.


A noun phrase has a noun as its Head. Determiners and adjective phrases usually constitute the pre-Head string: [NP the children] [NP happy children] [NP the happy children] In theory at least, the post-Head string in an NP can be indefinitely long: 23

[NP the dog that chased the cat that killed the mouse that ate the cheese that was made from the milk that came from the cow that...] Fortunately, they are rarely as long as this in real use. The Head of an NP does not have to be a common or a proper noun. Recall that pronouns are a subclass of nouns. This means that pronouns, too, can function as the Head of an NP: [NP I] like coffee The waitress gave [NP me] the wrong dessert [NP This] is my car If the Head is a pronoun, the NP will generally consist of the Head only. This is because pronouns do not take determiners or adjectives, so there will be no pre-Head string. However, with some pronouns, there may be a post-Head string: [NP Those who arrive late] cannot be admitted until the interval Similarly, numerals, as a subclass of nouns, can be the Head of an NP: [NP Two of my guests] have arrived [NP The first to arrive] was John

Noun Phrases (NP)

NP (D) (AP+) N

NP D AP AP N the slippers A A pink fluffy


Depending on the context of situation, we choose determiners and modifiers according to

our needs in identifying and specifying the referent of the NP. Sometimes we need several determiners and modifiers to clarify the referent (all my books in that box); sometimes we need none at all (Liz).

Verb Phrase (VP)

The verb phrase (VP) in English has a noticeably different structure, since the information
it carries about mood, tense, modality, aspect, and voice is quite different from the information carried by a noun phrase. The verb phrase has two functional parts, the auxiliary, a grammatical morpheme carrying information about mood, tense, modality, and voice; and the main verb, a lexical morpheme carrying its lexical information and, usually, an inflection.

The mood system in English is divided into four subcategories.


The indicative mood 'indicates;' that is, it conveys to the listener/reader that the
speaker/writer is making a statement, referring to the real world in an honest, direct, neutral way. The majority of our expressions are indicative in mood.

The imperative mood express the speakers' sense of a command, request, or exhortation an imperative. Speakers signal the imperative mood by using a base form of the verb in clause-initial position. (3) Do that! (4) Be here by 8:00 pm.

The subjunctive mood express the speakers' sense of the unlikely, a wish, a prayer, a hope.
The subjunctive describes the state of affairs as speakers wish or hope them to be. It describes hypothetical situations, "some other world," the irreal. Speakers signal the subjunctive by beginning subordinate clauses with an auxiliary or by using subordinators that overtly mark hypothetical conditions. (5) Had I known you were coming, I'd have baked a cake. (6) If I were a millionaire, I'd endow an award in your honor.

The subjunctive is also marked in the verb phrase by the use of subject-verb concord, as in
(6), where the singular subject I is matched with the plural verb were. Base forms of verbs can also signal the subjunctive. (7) I suggest that Ms. Jones reconsider her decision. (8) The administration insists that no one be exempted from the placement exams.

Finally, the base form is also used in several older, formulaic subjunctive expressions that
have survived in the modern language. (9) God save the King.


(10) Heaven forbid it should snow again.

Tense systems mark time. Tense is an inflection on the verb that indicates the time
reference of the expression. In English, tense is marked on the first verb of the verb phrase. All verbs marked for tense are called 'finite' verbs, while verb forms that do not carry a tense inflection (such as participles) are called 'nonfinite' verbs.

Aspect signals either the completion or the continuation of the process indicated by the
verb in English. The perfect aspect expresses the speakers' sense of completion, the speakers' sense that the process expressed by the verb has been "perfected," to use the older sense of the word. The perfect aspect is signaled by the use of a form of the auxiliary have and the -ed participle, have + V-ed. (Remember that some verbs are irregular, with irregular participle forms.) (20) Liz has gone already.

The progressive aspect expresses the speakers' sense that the process expressed by the
verb continues, covers a period of time, and is in some way relevant to the present moment. The progressive aspect is signaled by the use of a form of the auxiliary be and the -ing participle, be + V-ing. (21) Liz is doing the best work ever.

Voice systems allows speakers to view the action of the sentence in different ways without
changing the facts involved. English has two voices, active and passive. In the examples below, it is possible to see the event from the perspective of the 'agent' (the conscious "doer" of the action - that is active voice), as in (22), or from the perspective of the 'goal' (the "receiver" of the action - that is passive voice), as in (23). (22) Liz encourages Emily. (active) (23) Emily is encouraged by Liz. (passive)

The passive voice is signaled by the use of a form of be and the -ed participle, be + V-ed.
In a VERB PHRASE (VP), the Head is always a verb. The pre-Head string, if any, will be a `negative' word such as not [1] or never [2], or an adverb phrase [3]: [1] [VP not compose an aria] [2] [VP never compose an aria] [3] Paul [VP deliberately broke the window]


Many verb Heads must be followed by a post-Head string: My son [VP made a cake] -- (compare: *My son made) We [VP keep pigeons] -- (compare: *We keep) I [VP recommend the fish] -- (compare: *I recommend) Verbs which require a post-Head string are called TRANSITIVE verbs. The post-Head string, in these examples, is called the DIRECT OBJECT. In contrast, some verbs are never followed by a direct object: Susan [VP smiled] The professor [VP yawned] These are known as INTRANSITIVE VERBS. However, most verbs in English can be both transitive and intransitive, so it is perhaps more accurate to refer to transitive and intransitive uses of a verb. The following examples show the two uses of the same verb: Intransitive: David smokes Transitive: David smokes cigars

Verb Phrases (VP)

VP (AP+) V ({NP/S}) (PP+) (AP+) VP


V got D



PP NP D N a dollar


his buckets from D N for the store


Adjective Phrase (AP)

The adjective phrase in English has four functional constituents,

premodification, those modifying, describing, or qualifying constituents which precede the head; the head, which is an adjective or participle serving as the focus of the phrase; postmodification, that modifying constituent which follows the head; and complementation, that constituent which follows any postmodification and completes the specification of a meaning implied by the head.

In an ADJECTIVE PHRASE (AP), the Head word is an adjective. Here are some examples: Susan is [AP clever] The doctor is [AP very late] My sister is [AP fond of animals] The pre-Head string in an AP is most commonly an adverb phrase such as very or extremely. Adjective Heads may be followed by a post-Head string:


[AP happy to meet you] [AP ready to go] [AP afraid of the dark] A small number of adjective Heads must be followed by a post-Head string. The adjective Head fond is one of these. Compare: My sister is [AP fond of animals] *My sister is [fond]

Adjective/Adverb Phrases (APs)

A situation easily confused:

The big yellow balloon The very yellow balloon What does big modify? What does very big very modify? NP NP D AP AP N D AP N the balloon the balloon A big A yellow AP A very Adverb Phrase (AdvP) A yellow

The adverb phrase in English is nearly identical to the adjective phrase, with only the
expected changes in form. In the adverb phrase, an adverb functions as head.


In an ADVERB PHRASE, the Head word is an adverb. Most commonly, the pre-Head string is another adverb phrase: He graduated [AdvP very recently] She left [AdvP quite suddenly] In AdvPs, there is usually no post-Head string, but here's a rare example: [AdvP Unfortunately for him], his wife came home early

Prepositional Phrase (PP) This phrase is a 'nonheaded' construction in English since no one constituent functions as the center of the phrase, the center on which the other elements depend. Instead, the structure is divided into two functional components - the preposition followed by its complement. In general, a prepositional phrase expresses a relationship between the complement of the preposition and some other constituent of the sentence. Diagrammatically, the structure of the prepositional phrase looks like this:


Here are some examples: [PP through the window] [PP over the bar] [PP across the line] [PP after midnight] This makes PPs easy to recognise -- they nearly always begin with a preposition.

Prepositional Phrases (PPs)

These generally consist of a Preposition and an NP:

up the road on the video screen under the avocado PPP NP PP

PP P under NP D N the avocado


Phrases within Phrases We will conclude this introduction to phrases by looking briefly at phrases within phrases. Consider the NP: [NP small children] It consists of a Head children and a pre-Head string small. Now small is an adjective, so it is the Head of its own adjective phrase. We know this because it could be expanded to form a longer string: very small children Here, the adjective Head small has its own pre-Head string very: [AP very small] So in small children, we have an AP small embedded with the NP small children. We represent this as follows: [NP [AP small] children] All but the simplest phrases will contain smaller phrases within them. Here's another example: [PP across the road] Here, the Head is across, and the post-Head string is the road. Now we know that the road is itself an NP -- its Head is road, and it has a pre-Head string the. So we have an NP within the PP: [PP across [NP the road]]


UNIT 5 CLAUSES So far we have been looking at phrases more or less in isolation. In real use, of course, they occur in isolation only in very restricted circumstances. For example, we find isolated NPs in public signs and notices: [Exit] [Sale] [Restricted Area] [Hyde Park] We sometimes use isolated phrases in spoken English, especially in responses to questions: Q: What would you like to drink? A: [NP Coffee] Q: How are you today? A: [AP Fine] Q: Where did you park the car? A: [PP Behind the house] In more general use, however, phrases are integrated into longer units, which we call CLAUSES: Q: What would you like to drink? A: [I'd like coffee] Q: How are you today? A: [I'm fine] Q: Where did you park the car? A: [I parked the car behind the house]


Form and Function of the Clause in English A clause is a group of related words that contain a subject and predicate. Note the difference between phrases and clauses in the following examples:

Clause is the basic unit of meaning in English: conveys a message can provide information about what is happening (verb group) who, what is taking part (participant usually a noun group) when, where, how, why surrounding the activity (circumstance) can be identified by the presence of a single verb or verb group.

Words and phrases are the constituents of the clause rank. In order to discuss the
constituents of the clause, it is necessary to refer to the units smaller than the clause itself. Consider the following example, in which we can see that a single clause is composed of smaller units of the phrase rank.

We can categorize the constituents of that clause into the appropriate phrase type.


Furthermore, we also know that each phrase can be subcategorized into its constituent

The diagram above, however, looks at the constituents of the clause only from the
perspective of the constituents' forms. We should remember that those forms also serve functions, just as the forms at the phrase rank can also be described according to the functions they served within their phrases. Essentially the clause can be divided into eight functional constituents, grouped into five categories:

Functional Categories Eight Clause Functions (1) Subject (2) Verb (3) Objects (4) Complements (5) Adverbials [1] Subject [2] Verb [3] Direct Object [4] Indirect Object [5] Object Complement [6] Subject Complement [7] Adverbial Complement [8] Adverbial


At the clause rank, the constituents marked in the example sentence above serve four
different clause functions: subject (S) as in The news, verb (V) as in has been, subject complement (SC) as in quite sad, and adverbial (A) as in in fact. We use the following abbreviations for the other four clause functions: direct object (DO), indirect object (IO), object complement (OC), and adverbial complement (AC). The examples below illustrates some other clause patterns that are possible in English. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Liz (S) is resting (V) quietly (A) in the other room (A). The mind (S) is (V) immensely complex (SC). The children (S) were (V) here (AC) all morning (A). Emily (S) is playing (V) cards (O) with her sister (A). Early next week (A), the President (S) will send (V) Congress (IO) his budget (DO). 6. Clearly (A), the committee (S) considers (V) her (DO) the best (OC). 7. Once again (A), I (S) will put (V) the book (DO) away (AC).

When we look at the examples, we notice that each clause has a different arrangement of
functional elements, but there are some patterns too. First, we notice that while the different clauses have different arrangements of objects, complements, and adverbials, each clause consistently has a subject and verb. Thus, in the declarative clause, we call the functions of subject and verb the 'central' functions while objects, complements, and adverbials are the 'peripheral' functions. We also notice that adverbials are 'optional' when compared to the other clause constituents. That is, we could easily eliminate all the adverbials in sentences (1) through (7) and still have a well-formed English clause remaining. By eliminating the optional adverbials, then, we arrive at a classification of the basic clause patterns on the basis of the 'obligatory' constituents.

Some Examples of the Seven Clause Patterns in English S SV SVC SVA SVO Liz V is resting complex here cards her the book the best away IO DO SC OC AC

The mind is The kids were Emily is playing consider will put will send Congress his budget



This set of patterns is the most general classification that can be usefully applied to the
English clause. Correlating with the seven clause patterns are the three main types of verbs:

intransitive verbs, followed by no obligatory constituents, as in SV pattern above; copular verbs, followed by a SC or AC, as in the SVC and SVA patterns above; and transitive verbs, followed by an object, as in the SVO, SVOO, SVOC, and SVOA patterns above.

To conclude this outline of the basic clause patterns, we need to understand the principles
by which the functional constituents of the clause are identified. Although the categories of S, V, DO, IO, OC, SC, AC, and A are functional constituents, they are identifiable by both formal and functional criteria.

INDEPENDENT AND DEPENDENT CLAUSES An independent clause contains a subject, a verb, and a complete thought. 1. 2. Can stand on its own and convey a message Is always finite ie has a Subject (unless in the imperative form)

A dependent clause contains a subject and a verb, but no complete thought.

If I am going to be late (Dependent), I will ring you (Independent). OR I will ring you (Independent) if I am going to be late. (Dependent) You must give some money to charity (Independent) because you are very rich (Dependent) You must give some money to charity (Independent) and you should give some to me as well. (Independent)


Main vs. embedded/subordinate clause

It is important to note that a subordinate clause always expands an element of another clause (or in some cases a phrase). Consequently the subordinate clause should be viewed as a subset of a clause, and not as being separate from it (as are coordinate clauses). This is why they are also referred to as embedded clauses. This idea is best demonstrated by means of a diagram:


Subordinate Clause Types

Subordinate clauses may be finite or nonfinite. Within this broad classification, we can make many further distinctions. We will begin by looking at subordinate clauses which are distinguished by their formal characteristics. Many subordinate clauses are named after the form of the verb which they contain: TO-INFINITIVE CLAUSE: You must book early [to secure a seat]


BARE INFINITIVE CLAUSE: They made [the professor forget his notes] -ING PARTICIPLE CLAUSE: His hobby is [collecting old photographs] -ED PARTICIPLE CLAUSE: [Rejected by his parents], the boy turned to a life of crime For convenience, we sometimes name a clause after its first element: IF-CLAUSE: I'll be there at nine [if I catch the early train] As we'll see on the next page, if-clauses are sometimes called conditional clauses. THAT-CLAUSE: David thinks [that we should have a meeting] The that element is sometimes ellipted: David thinks [we should have a meeting] Relative Clauses An important type of subordinate clause is the RELATIVE CLAUSE. Here are some examples: The man [who lives beside us] is ill The video [which you recommended] was terrific Relative clauses are generally introduced by a relative pronoun, such as who, or which. However, the relative pronoun may be ellipted: The video [you recommended] was terrific Another variant, the REDUCED RELATIVE CLAUSE, has no relative pronoun, and the verb is nonfinite:


The man [living beside us] is ill (Compare: The man [who lives beside us]...) Nominal Relative Clauses NOMINAL RELATIVE CLAUSES (or independent relatives) function in some respects like noun phrases: [What I like best] is football (cf. the sport I like best...) The prize will go to [whoever submits the best design] (cf. the person who submits...) My son is teaching me [how to use email] (cf. the way to use email) This is [where Shakespeare was born] (cf. the place where...) The similarity with NPs can be further seen in the fact that certain nominal relatives exhibit number contrast: Singular: [What we need] is a plan Plural: [What we need] are new ideas Notice the agreement here with is (singular) and are (plural). Small Clauses Finally, we will mention briefly an unusual type of clause, the verbless or SMALL CLAUSE. While clauses usually contain a verb, which is finite or nonfinite, small clauses lack an overt verb: Susan found [the job very difficult] We analyse this as a unit because clearly its parts cannot be separated. What Susan found was not the job, but the job very difficult. And we analyse this unit specifically as a clause because we can posit an implicit verb, namely, a form of the verb be: Susan found [the job (to be) very difficult] Here are some more examples of small clauses:


Susan considers [David an idiot] The jury found [the defendant guilty] [Lunch over], the guests departed quickly All of the clause types discussed here are distinguished by formal characteristics. On the next page, we will distinguish some more types, this time on the basis of their meaning.

Subordinate Clauses: Semantic Types Here we will look at subordinate clauses from the point of view of their meaning. The main semantic types are exemplified in the following table: Subordinate Clause Type Temporal Example I'll ring you again [before I leave] David joined the army [after he graduated] [When you leave], please close the door I read the newspaper [while I was waiting] I'll be there at nine [if I can catch the early train] [Provided he works hard], he'll do very well at school Don't call me [unless its an emergency] He bought me a lovely gift, [although he can't really afford it] [Even though he worked hard], he failed the final exam [While I don't agree with her], I can understand her viewpoint Paul was an hour late [because he missed the train] I borrowed your lawn mower, [since you weren't using it] [As I don't know the way], I'll take a taxi The kitchen was flooded, [so we had to go to a restaurant] I've forgotten my password, [so I can't read my email] This is a lot more difficult [than I expected] She earns as much money [as I do] I think London is less crowded [than it used to be]







The table does not cover all the possible types, but it does illustrate many of the various meanings which can be expressed by subordinate clauses. Notice that the same word can introduce different semantic types. For instance, the word while can introduce a temporal clause: I read the newspaper [while I was waiting] or a concessive clause: [While I don't agree with her], I can understand her viewpoint. Similarly, the word since can express time: I've known him [since he was a child] as well as reason: I borrowed your lawn mower, [since you weren't using it]


UNIT 6 SENTENCES Most people recognise a sentence as a unit which begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop (period), a question mark, or an exclamation mark. Of course, this applies only to written sentences. Sentences have also been defined notionally as units which express a "complete thought", though it is not at all clear what a "complete thought" is. It is more useful to define a sentence syntactically, as a unit which consists of one or more clauses. According to this definition, the following examples are all sentences: [1] Paul likes football [2] You can borrow my pen if you need one [3] Paul likes football and David likes chess Sentence [1] is a SIMPLE SENTENCE -- it contains only one clause. Sentence [2] consists of a matrix clause You can borrow my pen if you need one, and a subordinate clause if you need one. This is called a COMPLEX SENTENCE. A complex sentence is defined as a sentence which contains at least one subordinate clause. Finally, sentence [3] consists of two clauses which are coordinated with each other. This is a COMPOUND sentence. By using subordination and coordination, sentences can potentially be infinitely long, but in all cases we can analyse them as one or more clauses. COMMUNICATIVE SENTENCES (THE DISCOURSE FUNCTIONS OF SENTENCES) Sentences may be classified according to their use in discourse. We recognise four main sentence types:

declarative interrogative imperative exclamative


Exclamative An exclamative or exclamatory sentence is released because of, and expresses strong emotion. They many times feel like involuntary reactions to a situation In punctuation, an exclamative is ended with an exclamation mark. Ouch, that hurt! Fantastic! I'll never finish this paper in time! Exclamative sentence can begin with "what" or "how" What a naughty dog he is! What an amazing game that was! How well everyone played!

Imperative An imperative sentence gives anything from a command or order, to a request, a suggestion, direction, or instruction

Imperative sentences are a little more intentional than exclamatory sentences and do require an audience; as their aim is to get the person(s) being spoken to to either do or not do something Look at me! After separating them from the yolks, beat the whites until they are light and fluffy. Imperative clauses The basic structure of the imperative consists of the predicator alone: Sit down! Typically, imperatives has no subject; when a subject is added, the result is marked form . You sit down and Ill stand. You keep quiet! Sit down, will you? 46

Be a bit more careful, cant you?

Imperative: Indicative ----------------------------------------------------- Somebody call a doctor Sombody calls a doctor. Nobody say a word! Nobody says a word. Negative imperative structures: Dont say a word. Declarative In its most basic sense, a declarative states an idea (either objectively or subjectively on the part of the speaker) for the sheer purpose of transferring information to the receiver. In writing, a statement will end with a period. Roses are red and violets are blue. She must be out of her mind. Form/meaning Semantically, a declarative structure is used to express a statement and is accompanied by falling intonation. Its raining. \ If spoken with rising intonation, it will be interpreted as a question. Its raining. / A clause which is declarative but which contains a displaced WH-element, will have the force of a question: And in the end you left them where? So you took the documents to which Ministry? Would like, must, am afraid I have to, ... I must beg you not to tell anyone about this. Interrogative An interrogative sentence asks a question and therefore ends with a question mark. Its effort is to try and gather information that is previously unknown to the interrogator, or to seek validation for a preconceived notion held o What do you want? o Is David gay?

o They typically begin with a question word such as what, who, or how, or an auxiliary verb such as do/does, can or would. o Do you speak French? 47

o Will you go to the supermarket for me? o How can I do that? TYPES OF OF INTERROGATIVE SENTENCES. There are four types of interrogative sentences. Yes/No Interrogatives Yes/No questions usually will be answered by yes or no. e.g. - Will you bring your book? * => Answer: Yes or No) - Did she pass the test? * => Answer: Yes or No) Alternative Interrogatives Alternative interrogativse offer two or more alternative responses:

Should I telephone you or send an email? Do you want bear, wine, or wisky?

Yes/no interrogatives and alternative interrogatives are introduced by an auxiliary verb. Wh- Interrogatives Wh- Interrogatives are introduced by a wh- word, and they elicit an open-ended response: What happened? Where do you work? Who won the Cup Final in 1997? Tag Questions They are sometimes tagged onto the end of a declarative sentence. David plays the piano, doesn't he? We've forgotten the milk, haven't we? There's a big match tonight, isn't there?

Rhetorical question A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question posed for its persuasive effect without the expectation of a reply (ex: "Why me?") When a speaker states, "How much longer must our people endure this injustice?", no formal answer is expected. Rather, it is a device used by the speaker to assert or deny something. 48

Interrogative structures are either positive or negative: Have you accepted the job? Havent you accepted the job?

Why did you accept the job? Why didnt you accept the job?

The questions expressed by interrogative structures can be oriented according to the kind of answer the speaker expects, and are said to have NEUTRAL, POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE ORINETATION. This is achieved by the addition of non-assertive forms (any, anybody, evr, yet), assertive forms (some, somebody, always, already) and negative forms (nobody, no, never) A neutral attitude is expressed by a positive interrogative togther with non-assertive forms: Have you ever been to India. Do you know anyone in Brighton? A positive orientation is given by adding assertive forms to the positive interrogative: Do you know someone in Brighton? Declarative negative: Nobody has given back their books. Interrogative negative: Has nobody given back their books?



A declarative statement should not be deemed synonymous with an affirmative one. This is because although a declarative statement can state facts (given that the speaker is not consciously lying), it can also express something which is not true. Therefore, a declarative can be either in the affirmative or in the negative, and we can say that, Joanna is late and Joanna is not late, both technically qualify as declarative sentences. Declarative refers to a sentence's function or purpose, while affirmative and negative deal with a sentence's grammatical polarity, which is why the different terms can overlap simultaneously. Positive in linguistic terms refers to the degree of the quality of an adjective or adverb (along with the comparative and superlative), while affirmative refers to the perceived validity of the entire sentence. GRAMMATICAL POLARITY Grammatical polarity is the distinction of affirmative and negative, which indicates the truth or falsehood of a statement respectively. In English, grammatical polarity is generally indicated by the presence or absence of the modifier not, which negates the statement. In many languages, rather than inflecting the verb, negation is expressed by adding a particle: Standard English usually adds the auxiliary verb do, and then adds not after it: "I did not go there". In grammar, negation is the process that turns an affirmative statement (I am the chicken) into its opposite denial (I am not the chicken). Nouns as well as verbs can be grammatically negated, by the use of a negative adjective (There is no chicken), a negative pronoun (Nobody is the chicken), or a negative adverb (I never was the chicken).

NUCLEUR NEGATIVES Many negative declarative structures can be formed in two ways: 1. By negating the Finite element (arent waitng, dont care) or the non-finite verb in a dependent clause (not expecting a reply) 2. By negating a non-verbal element: Nobody knows. She felt no pain. Neither parent was informed. Not much whisky was left. Elephants never forget. ASSERTION AND NON-ASSERTION In English, rather than distinguishing simply between positive and negative forms, we must establish a distinction between assertive and non-assertive forms.


Assertive words such as SOME, SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE occur typically in assertive contexts. These are expressed by positive declarative clauses. Non-assertive words such as ANY, ANYONE, ANYTHING, EVER occur in contextas which are non-positive> interrogative, and negative clauses

ASSERTIVE FORMS: We have some very good coffee. Ive left my car keys somewhere. NON-ASSERTIVE FORMS: Have you any good coffee? Have youn seen my glasses anywhere? Take any you like! No-one said anything. Didnt you say anything? (interrogative-negative clause) Did you say anything? DOUBLE NEGATION Standard national forms of English do not favour multiple negation, that is, a successtion of nucleur negative items in one clause. Instead, the first negative item is followed throughout the rest of the clause by one or more non-assertive forms, such as ANY, EITHER, EVER, etc. We are not going anywhere with either of our parents. I havent said anything to anybody yet. He hardly ever writes Christmas cards to anyone any more. POSITIVE STRUCTURES/Negative 1/Negative 2 Theres some bread left. There isnt any bread left. There is no bread left. Theres some left. There insnt any left. Theres none left. He met someone at the pub He didnt meet anyone at the pub. He met no-one at the pub. I know something about it. I dont know anything about it.


I know nothing about it. They sometimes open on Sundays. They dont ever open on Sundays. They never open on Sundays. He always wins. He doesnt ever win. He never wins. He still plays golf. He doesnt play golf any more/any longer. He no longer plays golf. My son will go too./as well. My son wont go either. Neither will my son go.


THE GRAMMATICAL HIERARCHY: WORDS, PHRASES, CLAUSES, AND SENTENCES Words, phrases, clauses, and sentences constitute what is called the GRAMMATICAL HIERARCHY. We can represent this schematically as follows: sentences consist of one or more... clauses consist of one or more... phrases consist of one or more... words Sentences are at the top of the hierarchy, so they are the largest unit which we will be considering (though some grammars do look beyond the sentence). At the other end of the hierarchy, words are at the lowest level, though again, some grammars go below the word to consider morphology, the study of how words are constructed. At the clause level and at the phrase level, two points should be noted: 1. Although clauses are higher than phrases in the hierarchy, clauses can occur within phrases, as we've already seen: The man who lives beside us is ill Here we have a relative clause who lives beside us within the NP the man who lives beside us. 2. We've also seen that clauses can occur within clauses, and phrases can occur within phrases. Bearing these two points in mind, we can now illustrate the grammatical hierarchy using the following sentence: My brother won the lottery This is a simple sentence (S), consisting of a matrix clause (MC): [S/MC My brother won the lottery]


We can subdivide the clause into an NP and a VP: [S/MC [NP My brother] [VP won the lottery]] The VP contains a further NP within it: [S/MC [NP My brother] [VP won [NP the lottery]]] So we have a total of three phrases. Each phrase consists of individual words: [S/MC [NP [Det My] [N brother]] [VP [V won] [NP [Det the] [N lottery]]]] Each of the bracketed units here is a word, a phrase, or a clause. We refer to these as CONSTITUENTS. A constituent is defined as a word or a group of words which acts syntactically as a unit. A tree diagram is a visual representation of syntactic structure, in which the grammatical hierarchy is graphically displayed. Here's the tree diagram for our sentence, My brother won the lottery:

A tree diagram contains exactly the same information as its corresponding labelled bracketing, but it is much easier to interpret.

UNIT 7 SENTENCE PATTERNS FROM A FUNCTIONAL PERSPECTIVE We saw that the form or "shape" of a word is often a good clue to its word class.


When we looked at phrases, too, we were concerned with their form. We said that phrases may have the basic form (Pre-Head string) - Head - (Post-Head string). And finally, we classified clauses according to the form (finite or nonfinite) of their main verb. In all of these cases, we were conducting a FORMAL analysis. Form denotes how something looks -- its shape or appearance, and what its structure is. When we say that the old man is an NP, or that the old man bought a newspaper is a finite clause, we are carrying out a formal analysis. We can also look at constituents -- phrases and clauses -- from another angle. We can examine the FUNCTIONs which they perform in the larger structures which contain them.

SUBJECT AND PREDICATE The most familiar grammatical function is the SUBJECT. In notional terms, we can think of the Subject as the element which performs the "action" denoted by the verb: [1] David plays the piano [2] The police interviewed all the witnesses In [1], the Subject David performs the action of playing the piano. In [2], the Subject the police performs the action of interviewing all the witnesses. In these terms, this means that we can identify the Subject by asking a wh-question: [1] David plays the piano Q. Who plays the piano? A. David ( = Subject) [2] The police interviewed all the witnesses Q. Who interviewed all the witnesses? A. The police (= Subject) Having identified the Subject, we can see that the remainder of the sentence tells us what the Subject does or did. In [1], for example, plays the piano tells us what David does. We refer to this string as the PREDICATE of the sentence. In [2], the Predicate is interviewed all the witnesses. Here are some more examples of sentences labelled for Subject and Predicate.


Subject The lion He She roared


writes well enjoys going to the cinema

The girl in the blue dress arrived late

In each of these examples, the Subject performs the action described in the Predicate. We've seen, however, that there are problems in defining verbs as "action" words, and for the same reasons, there are problems in defining the Subject as the "performer" of the action. The Subject in John seems unhappy is John, but we would hardly say he is performing an action. For this reason, we need to define the Subject more precisely than this. We will look at the characteristics of the Subject on the next page. Characteristics of the subject The grammatical Subject has a number of characteristics which we will examine here. 1. Subject-Verb Inversion In a declarative sentence, the Subject comes before the verb: Declarative: David is unwell When we change this into a yes/no interrogative, the Subject and the verb change places with each other: Interrogative: Is David unwell? If an auxiliary verb is present, however, the Subject changes places with the auxiliary: Declarative: Jim has left already Interrogative: Has Jim left already? In this interrogative, the Subject still comes before the main verb, but after the auxiliary. This is true also of interrogatives with a do-auxiliary:


Declarative: Jim left early Interrogative: Did Jim leave early? Subject-verb inversion is probably the most reliable method of identifying the Subject of a sentence. 2. Position of the Subject In a declarative sentence, the Subject is usually the first constituent: Jim was in bed Paul arrived too late for the party The Mayor of New York attended the banquet We made a donation to charity However, there are exceptions to this. For instance: Yesterday the theatre was closed Here, the first constituent is the adverb phrase yesterday, but this is not the Subject of the sentence. Notice that the theatre, and not yesterday, inverts with the verb in the interrogative: Declarative: Yesterday the theatre was closed Interrogative: Yesterday was the theatre closed? So the Subject here is the theatre, even though it is not the first constituent in the sentence. 3. Subject-verb Agreement Subject-verb AGREEMENT or CONCORD relates to number agreement (singular or plural) between the Subject and the verb which follows it: Singular Subject: The dog howls all night Plural Subject: The dogs howl all night There are two important limitations to Subject-verb agreement. Firstly, agreement only applies when the verb is in the present tense. In the past tense, there is no overt agreement between the Subject and the verb: The dog howled all night


The dogs howled all night And secondly, agreement applies only to third person Subjects. There is no distinction, for example, between a first person singular Subject and a first person plural Subject: I howl all night We howl all night The concept of NOTIONAL AGREEMENT sometimes comes into play: The government is considering the proposal The government are considering the proposal Here, the form of the verb is not determined by the form of the Subject. Instead, it is determined by how we interpret the Subject. In the government is..., the Subject is interpreted as a unit, requiring a singular form of the verb. In the government are..., the Subject is interpreted as having a plural meaning, since it relates to a collection of individual people. Accordingly, the verb has the plural form are. 4. Subjective Pronouns The pronouns I, he/she/it, we, they, always function as Subjects, in contrast with me, him/her, us, them: I left early *Me left early He left early *Him left early We left early *Us left early They left early *Them left early The pronoun you can also be a Subject: You left early but it does not always perform this function. In the following example, the


Subject is Tom, not you: Tom likes you Realisations of the Subject In the sentence, Jim was in bed, the Subject is the NP Jim. More precisely, we say that the Subject is realised by the NP Jim. Conversely, the NP Jim is the realisation of the Subject in this sentence. Remember that NP is a formal term, while Subject is a functional term: FORM Noun Phrase FUNCTION Subject

Subjects are typically realised by NPs. This includes NPs which have pronouns [1], cardinal numerals [2], and ordinal numerals [3] as their Head word: [1] [We] decided to have a party [2] [One of my contacts lenses] fell on the floor [3] [The first car to reach Brighton] is the winner However, other constituents can also function as Subjects, and we will examine these in the following sections.

Clauses functioning as Subject Clauses can also function as Subjects. When they perform this function, we refer to them generally as Subject clauses. The table below shows examples of the major types of Subject clauses:

CLAUSES functioning as SUBJECTS Finite That-clause


[1] That his theory was flawed soon became obvious


[2] What I need is a long holiday Nominal Relative clause Nonfinite To-infinitive clause -ing clause Notice that some of these Subject clauses have Subjects of their own. In [1], the Subject clause that his theory was flawed, has its own Subject, his theory. Similarly, in [2], the Subject of what I need is I. Among nonfinite clauses, only to-infinitive clauses and -ing participle clauses can function as Subject. Bare infinitive clauses and -ed participle clauses cannot perform this function. In the examples above -- [3] and [4] -- the nonfinite Subject clauses do not have Subjects of their own, although they can do: [3a] For Mary to become an opera singer would take years of training [4a] David being the chairman has meant more work for all of us [3] To become an opera singer takes years of training [4] Being the chairman is a huge responsibility

Prepositional Phrases functioning as Subject Less commonly, the Subject may be realised by a prepositional phrase: After nine is a good time to ring Prepositional phrases as Subject typically refer to time or to space.

Some Unusual Subjects Before leaving this topic, we will point out some grammatical Subjects which may at first glance be difficult to recognise as such. For example, can you work out the Subject of the following sentence? There is a fly in my soup 60

As we've seen, the most reliable test for identifying the Subject is Subject-verb inversion, so let's try it here: Declarative: There is a fly in my soup Interrogative: Is there a fly in my soup? The inversion test shows that the subject is there. You will recall that this is an example of existential there, and the sentence in which it is the Subject is an existential sentence. Now try the same test on the following: It is raining The inversion test shows that the Subject is it: Declarative: It is raining Interrogative: Is it raining? These two examples illustrate how limited the notional definition of the Subject really is. In no sense can we say that there and it are performing an "action" in their respective sentences, and yet they are grammatically functioning as Subjects. On this page, we've seen that the function of Subject can be realised by several different forms. Conversely, the various forms (NP, clause, PP, etc) can perform several other functions, and we will look at these in the following pages.

Inside the Predicate Now we will look inside the Predicate, and assign functions to its constituents. Recall that the Predicate is everything apart from the Subject. So in David plays the piano, the Predicate is plays the piano. This Predicate consists of a verb phrase, and we can divide this into two further elements: [plays] [the piano] In formal terms, we refer to the verb as the PREDICATOR, because its function is to predicate or state something about the subject. Notice that Predicator is a functional term, while verb is a formal term: FORM Verb FUNCTION Predicator


However, since the Predicator is always realised by a verb, we will continue to use the more familiar term verb, even when we are discussing functions. The Direct Object In the sentence David plays the piano, the NP the piano is the constituent which undergoes the "action" of being played (by David, the Subject). We refer to this constituent as the DIRECT OBJECT. Here are some more examples of Direct Objects: We bought a new computer I used to ride a motorbike The police interviewed all the witnesses We can usually identify the Direct Object by asking who or what was affected by the Subject. For example: We bought a new computer Q. What did we buy? A. A new computer ( = the Direct Object) The Direct Object generally comes after the verb, just as the Subject generally comes before it. So in a declarative sentence, the usual pattern is: Subject -- Verb -- Direct Object The following table shows more examples of this pattern: Subject The tourists She Verb visited sent Direct Object the old cathedral a postcard

The detectives examined the scene of the crime Realisations of the Direct Object The Direct Object is most often realised by an NP, as in the examples above. However, this function can also be realised by a clause. The following table shows examples of clauses functioning as Direct Objects:


CLAUSES functioning as DIRECT OBJECTS Finite That-clause Nominal relative clause Nonfinite To-infinitive clause Bare infinitive clause -ing clause


[1] He thought that he had a perfect alibi [2] The officer described what he saw through the keyhole

[3] The dog wants to play in the garden [4] She made the lecturer laugh [5] Paul loves playing football [6] I'm having my house painted

-ed clause

Subjects and Objects, Active and Passive A useful way to compare Subjects and Direct Objects is to observe how they behave in active and passive sentences. Consider the following active sentence: Active: Fire destroyed the palace Here we have a Subject fire and a Direct Object the palace. Now let's convert this into a passive sentence: Passive: The palace was destroyed by fire The change from active to passive has the following results: 1. The active Direct Object the palace becomes the passive Subject 2. The active Subject fire becomes part of the PP by fire (the by-agent phrase).


The Indirect Object Some verbs occur with two Objects: We gave [John] [a present] Here, the NP a present undergoes the "action" (a present is what is given). So a present is the Direct Object. We refer to the NP John as the INDIRECT OBJECT. Indirect Objects usually occur with a Direct Object, and they always come before the Direct Object. The typical pattern is: Subject -- Verb -- Indirect Object -- Direct Object Here are some more examples of sentences containing two objects:

Indirect Object Direct Object Tell He showed We bought me us David a story his war medals a birthday cake a pen?

Can you lend your colleague

Verbs which take an Indirect Object and a Direct Object are known as DITRANSITIVE verbs. Verbs which take only a Direct Object are called MONOTRANSITIVE verbs. The verb tell is a typical ditransitive verb, but it can also be monotransitive:

Indirect Object Ditransitive David told the children

Direct Object a story a story

Monotransitive David told

As we've seen, an Indirect Object usually co-occurs with a Direct Object. However, with some verbs an Indirect Object may occur alone:


David told the children although we can usually posit an implicit Direct Object in such cases: David told the children the news

Realisations of the Indirect Object NPs are the most common realisations of the Indirect Object. It is a typical function of pronouns in the objective case, such as me, him, us, and them. Less commonly, a clause will function as Indirect Object: David told whoever saw her to report to the police

Adjuncts Certain parts of a sentence may convey information about how, when, or where something happened: He ate his meal quickly (how) David gave blood last week (when) Susan went to school in New York (where) The highlighted constituents here are ADJUNCTS. From a syntactic point of view, Adjuncts are optional elements, since their omission still leaves a complete sentence: He ate his meal quickly ~He ate his meal David gave blood last week ~David gave blood Susan went to school in New York ~Susan went to school Many types of constituents can function as Adjuncts, and we exemplify these below.

Realisations of Adjuncts Noun Phrases functioning as Adjuncts


David gave blood last week Next summer, we're going to Spain We've agreed to meet the day after tomorrow NPs as Adjuncts generally refer to time, as in these examples. Adverb Phrases functioning as Adjuncts They ate their meal too quickly She walked very gracefully down the steps Suddenly, the door opened Prepositional Phrases functioning as Adjuncts Susan went to school in New York I work late on Mondays After work, I go to a local restaurant PPs as Adjuncts generally refer to time or to place -- they tell us when or where something happens. Clauses functioning as Adjuncts Subordinate clauses can function as Adjuncts. We'll begin with some examples of finite subordinate clauses:

Clauses functioning as Adjuncts Finite


While we were crossing the park, we heard a loud explosion I was late for the interview because the train broke down


If you want tickets for the concert, you have to apply early My car broke down, so I had to walk Nonfinite To-infinitive clause Bare infinitive clause -ing clause -ed clause Small clause To open the window, you have to climb a ladder Rather than leave the child alone, I brought him to work with me Being a qualified plumber, Paul had no difficulty in finding the leak Left to himself, he usually gets the job done quickly His face red with rage, John stormed out of the room

In all cases, notice also that the Adjuncts express additional and optional information. If they are omitted, the remaining clause is still syntactically complete.



In the 1960s, Chomsky introduced two central ideas relevant to the construction and evaluation of grammatical theories. The first was the distinction between competence and performance. Chomsky noted the obvious fact that people, when speaking in the real world, often make linguistic errors (e.g., starting a sentence and then abandoning it midway through). He argued that these errors in linguistic performance were irrelevant to the study of linguistic competence (the knowledge that allows people to construct and understand grammatical sentences). Consequently, the linguist can study an idealised version of language, greatly simplifying linguistic analysis. The second idea related directly to the evaluation of theories of grammar. Chomsky distinguished between grammars that achieve descriptive adequacy and those that go further and achieved explanatory adequacy. A descriptively adequate grammar for a particular language defines the (infinite) set of grammatical sentences in that language; that is, it describes the language in its entirety. A grammar that achieves explanatory adequacy has the additional property that it gives an insight into the underlying linguistic structures in the human mind; that is, it does not merely describe the grammar of a language, but makes predictions about how linguistic knowledge is mentally represented. For Chomsky, the nature of such mental representations is largely innate, so if a grammatical theory has explanatory adequacy it must be able to explain the various grammatical nuances of the languages of the world as relatively minor variations in the universal pattern of human language. A generative grammar is an algorithm for specifying, or generating, all and only the grammatical sentences in a language.

Deep structure and surface structure

In 1957, Noam Chomsky published Syntactic Structures, in which he developed the idea that each sentence in a language has two levels of representation a deep structure and a surface structure.


The deep structure represented the core semantic relations of a sentence, and was mapped on to the surface structure (which followed the phonological form of the sentence very closely) via transformations. Chomsky believed there are considerable similarities between languages' deep structures, and that these structures reveal properties, common to all languages that surface structures conceal. However, this may not have been the central motivation for introducing deep structure. Transformations had been proposed prior to the development of deep structure as a means of increasing the mathematical and descriptive power of context-free grammars. Chomsky emphasizes the importance of modern formal mathematical devices in the development of grammatical theory.

Innate linguistic knowledge

One of the most important of Chomsky's ideas is that most of this knowledge is innate, with the result that a baby can have a large body of prior knowledge about the structure of language in general, and need only actually learn the idiosyncratic features of the language(s) it is exposed to. Chomsky was not the first person to suggest that all languages had certain fundamental things in common (he quotes philosophers writing several centuries ago who had the same basic idea), but he helped to make the innateness theory respectable after a period dominated by more behaviorist attitudes towards language. Perhaps more significantly, he made concrete and technically sophisticated proposals about the structure of language, and made important proposals regarding how the success of grammatical theories should be evaluated.


Chomsky argued that the notions "grammatical" and "ungrammatical" could be defined in a meaningful and useful way. In contrast, an extreme behaviorist linguist would argue that language can only be studied through recordings or transcriptions of actual speech, the role of the linguist being to look for patterns in such observed speech, but not to hypothesize about why such patterns might occur, nor to label particular utterances as either "grammatical" or "ungrammatical." Although few linguists in the 1950s actually took such an extreme position, Chomsky was at an opposite extreme, defining grammaticality in an unusually mentalistic way (for the time). He argued that the intuition of a native speaker is enough to define the grammaticalness of a sentence; that is, if a particular string of English words elicits a double take, or feeling of wrongness in a native English speaker, and when various extraneous factors affecting intuitions are controlled for, it can be said that the string of words is ungrammatical. This, according to Chomsky, is entirely distinct from the question of whether a sentence is meaningful, or can be understood. It is possible for a sentence to be both grammatical and meaningless, as in Chomsky's famous example "colorless green ideas sleep furiously." But such sentences manifest a linguistic problem distinct from that posed by meaningful but ungrammatical (non)-sentences such as "man the bit sandwich the," the meaning of which is fairly clear, but no native speaker would accept as well formed. Mathematical representation Returning to the more general mathematical notion of a grammar, an important feature of all transformational grammars is that they are more powerful than context-free grammars. This idea was formalized by Chomsky in the Chomsky hierarchy. Chomsky argued that it is impossible to describe the structure of natural languages using context-free grammars. Phrase-structure rules are a way to describe a given language's syntax. They are used to break down a natural language sentence into its constituent parts (also known as syntactic categories) namely phrasal categories and lexical categories ( parts of speech). Phrasal categories include the noun phrase, verb phrase, and prepositional phrase; lexical categories include noun, verb, adjective, adverb, and many others. Phrase structure rules were commonly used in transformational grammar (TGG). A grammar which uses phrase structure rules is called a phrase structure grammar.

Elementary trees and substitution

The raw ingredients that sentences consist of are vocabulary items. These belong to various syntactic categories, like noun, adjective, transitive verb, preposition, and so forth. Depending on their syntactic category, vocabulary items combine with one another to form constituents, which in turn belong to syntactic categories of their own. For instance,


determiners (a category that includes the articles a and the and the demonstratives this, that, these and those) can combine with nouns to form noun phrases, but they can't combine with other syntactic categories like adverbs, verbs, or prepositions. a house * a slowly the cats * the went those books * those of It's possible to represent the information contained in a constituent by using labeled bracketing. Each vocabulary item is enclosed in brackets that are labeled with the appropriate syntactic category. The constituent that results from combining vocabulary items is in turn enclosed in brackets that are labeled with the constituent's syntactic category.

[NounPhr [Deta ] [Noun house ] ] [NounPhr [Detthe ] [Noun cats ] ] [NounPhr [Detthose ] [Noun books ] ]
As constituent structure grows more complex, labeled bracketings very quickly grow difficult for humans to process, and it's often more convenient to represent constituent structure with tree diagrams. Tree diagrams, or trees for short, convey exactly the same information as labeled bracketings, but the information is presented differently. Instead of enclosing an element in brackets that are labeled with a syntactic category, the category is placed immediately above the element and connected to it with a line or branch.



Phrase structure rules are usually of the form A is separated into the two subconstituents B and C.

, meaning that the constituent


The first rule reads: An S consists of an NP followed by a VP. This means A sentence consists of a noun phrase followed by a verb phrase. The next one: A noun phrase consists of a determiner followed by a noun. Further explanations of the constituents: S, Det, NP, VP, AP, PP Associated with phrase structure rules is a famous example of a grammatically correct sentence. The sentence was constructed by Noam Chomsky as an illustration that syntactically but not semantically correct sentences are possible. Colorless green ideas sleep furiously can be diagrammed as a phrase tree, as below:

((NP (ADJ colorless) (NP (ADJ green) (N ideas))) (VP (V sleep) (ADV furiously)))

Based partially on mathematical equations generative grammar is a set of rules that provide a framework for all the grammatically possible sentences in a language, excluding those which would be considered ungrammatical. A classical generative grammar consists of four elements:

A limited number of nonterminal signs; A beginning sign which is contained in the limited number of nonterminal signs; A limited number of terminal signs; A finite set of rules which enable rewriting nonterminal signs as strings of terminal signs.

nice dogs like cats [S[NP[Anice] [Ndogs]] [VP[Vlike] [NP[Ncats]]]] S NP VP NP A N NP N VP V NP N dogs N cats 72

V like A nice

The first NP label thus identifies a set consisting of these two sets, that is, NP = {A, N}, or NP = {{nice}, {dogs}}. The VP label then identifies a set that can be written out as VP = {V, NP} = {{like}, {{cats}}} because V = {like} and the second NP- and N-labelled sets consist of NP = {N} = {{cats}}. Consequently, the S label identifies the set S ={{{nice}, {dogs}}, {{like}, {{cats}}}}. The rules could be applied in a free way and the only requirement is that the final result must be a grammatically correct sentence.