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Introduction to English Syntax Level 1 Course Ron Kuzar Department of English Language and Literature University of Haifa Chapter 1 Morpho-Syntax
Major Word Classes: V, N, A, P, Adv • • • Verb Noun Adjective Preposition Adverb (V) (N) (A) (P) (Adv)
Terminological Note • Word class • Also: – Part of speech – (Word) category
Verb (V) My soup was hot. This boy sleeps a lot. Our teacher asked a question. The shirt tears so easily. The food rotted.
Noun (N) My soup was hot. This boy sleeps a lot. Our teacher asked a question. The shirt tears so easily. The food rotted in the heat.
Adjective (A) The box is open. I am tired of waiting. The square table is ready for you. Happy and relaxed, they sat down to eat.
Preposition (P) I am tired of waiting. The square table is ready for you. They sat on the ground around the tree. It is on a hill, 400 meters above sea level. The rags are under the sink, near the bucket. The machine is out of order.
Adverb (Adv) Fortunately, the door was open. They lived happily ever after. The car drove by so fast. She knows the material quite well. He strongly objected to the new plan. Yesterday I found my lucky penny.
Phrase • Words do not appear in the sentence as such. Rather, they come in phrases. A noun in a Noun Phrase (NP) An adjective in an Adjective Phrase (AP) A preposition in a Preposition Phrase (PP) An adverb in an Adverb Phrase (Adv. P) A verb in a Verb Phrase (VP)
The Structure of Phrases: Heads and Modifiers • Each phrase has a head and modifiers. • The phrase is named after its head. • For example, – the noun is the head of the NP, – the preposition is the head of the PP, etc. • All other expressions are modifiers: – The tallest building in town – modifier head modifier
Terminological Note • Head • Also: – Head word – Nucleus
The NP • An NP may have an article (a/the) at the beginning, which is sometimes obligatory: – The book vanished –*Book vanished. • But not always: – Happiness prevails. –*The happiness prevails. • There can be only one article per NP: – a book – the book –*the a book –*a the book
Determiners • Articles belong to the class of determiners: – articles: a (an), the, ø (zero). – demonstratives: this, that (these, those). – quantifiers: some, any, no. – possesives: my, your, his, the speaker’s. • There is only one determiner in an NP: – some dog – *the some dog / *some the dog – no broom –*a no broom / *no a broom – my chair –*my this chair / *this my chair – The speaker’s privilege –*her the speaker’s privilege
Other Modifiers • Other modifiers may be NP, AP, PP: Consider the sentence: – Some nice beer jugs in the store were so expensive. It has a large NP in it: some nice beer modif. Det. AP NP • (Det. =Determiner; Modif. =Modifier) jugs in the store. head modif. N PP • The head is a single element, NOT a phrase!
Testing for the Head of an NP • To check which word of the phrase is the head of the phrase, we can use the a kind of test: • In the sentence – The green bird on the tree looked at me. there is an NP the green bird on the tree. • Is green, bird, or tree the head? Answer: Is “the green bird on the tree” a kind of “green”? NO! Is “the green bird on the tree” a kind of “tree”? NO! Is “the green bird on the tree” a kind of “bird”? YES! • Bird is the head of this NP.
Another Test • Replace the phrase with the word you suspect to be its head (sometimes a determiner has to be added). • The change in meaning should be minimal: The green bird on the tree looked at me. The green looked at me? NO! The tree looked at me? NO! The bird looked at me? YES! • Bird is the head of this NP.
Tests for Other Phrases • In the NP “a very badly injured man”, • there is a phrase “very badly injured”. • The kind of test: Is “very badly injured” a kind of “very”? Is “very badly injured” a kind of “badly”? Is “very badly injured” a kind of “injured”? NO! YES! • The replacement test: A An very badly injured man arrived. • Injured is A, hence, “very badly injured” is AP.
More Tests for Other Phrases • In the sentence “She spoke so very softly” there is a phrase “so very softly”. • The “kind of” test: Is “so very softly” a kind of “so”? Is “so very softly” a kind of “very”? Is “so very softly” a kind of “softly” NO! YES! • The replacement test: She spoke so very softly. • Softly is an Adv. , hence, “so very softly” is an Adv. P.
The VP • In the sentence “She happily ate the apple” there is a phrase “happily ate the apple”. • The “kind of” test: Is “happily ate the apple” a kind of “happily”? NO! Is “happily ate the apple” a kind of “apple”? NO! Is “happily ate the apple” a kind of “ate”? YES! • The replacement test: She happily ate the apple. ate. • Ate is a V, hence, “happily ate the apple” is a VP.
The Verb Complex (VC) • The verb is often expanded to a larger complex, the Verb Complex (VC). • The VC contains one lexical verb and optional grammatical verbs: modals and auxiliaries. VC • • • Mary Mary found has found could find should find would have found might have been finding happiness.
The Verb Complex Is not a Real Phrase • The VC may be discontinuous: This driver could easily have killed that jogger. VC=could [easily] have killed. Would Linda do this? • VC=would [Linda] do • Phrases cannot be discontinuous: *They are at, frankly, theater. • Discontinuous PP? at [*frankly] theater? NO!
The VC Is not a Constituent of the sentence • The VC is a convenient way of talking about the whole sequence of verbs in an English sentence. • The VC is NOT a phrase, NOT a sentence constituent.
Sentence Constituents • A typical (verbal) sentence may look like this: NP (M) [VPV NP] M = V= one or more grammatical verbs of the VC (mod. or aux. ). lexical verb • The subscripted VP indicates that the symbols between the brackets are all within the VP. • Even if we see only single words, we consider them as representing their respective phrases. NP M [VP V Whales may swallow NP] fish.
Terminological Note • Sentence and Clause are used in different ways in different frameworks. • Here: the term Clause is reserved for subordinate/embedded sentences, which we will call Subordinate Clauses (to be explained in an upcoming chapter).
A Sample Question • Identify the VC and all the phrases. • Underline the head of each phrase: My very old tent could have so easily remained at my uncle’s well cherished house. Answer: could have […] remained=VC my very old tent=NP. In it: my=determiner, very old=AP. In it: very=Adv. P so easily remained at my uncle’s very cherished house=VP in it: so easily=Adv. P. in it: so=determiner. at my uncle’s well cherished house=PP. In it: my uncle’s well cherished house=NP In it: my uncle’s=determiner, well cherished=AP. In it: well=Adv. P
Homework • Identify the VC and all the phrases. • Underline the head of each phrase: 1. Our candidate should have been elected. 2. Each student must submit a fully annotated chart. 3. John has performed very poorly on the test. 4. Life in the Caribbean Isles makes no sense to me. 5. Every dog should have its very own kennel.