SYNTAX Languages are by nature extremely complex and describing a language is not an easy task. To help with description and analysis it is better to divide a language into separate components or different areas of analysis. Thus, Phonology looks at and describes the sound system of a language, Morphology looks at the way words are formed, Syntax seeks to describe the way words fit together to form sentences or utterances, and Semantics and Pragmatics study meaning. Although these components interact with each other, they can, to some extent, be looked at and described individually. Syntax, or sentence structure means looking at the way words combine together to form sentences. One way to study syntax is to look at sentences which we already know to be considered syntactically “well-formed” sentences. e.g. (1) I shot the sheriff. – Well formed. (2) * The shot sheriff I. By analysing or describing sentences such as (1) in term of their constituent parts, we can see the patterns that words follow when they fit together. It seems clear that sentences are made up of units and that at one level these units are words. So, a sentence consists of words or alternatively words are constituents of a sentence. We use S to stand for sentence, and an arrow, →to mean consists of. Thus S → word + word+.... There are rules governing the way in which words can be put together to form syntactically well-formed or grammatical sentences. e.g. (1) The girl likes the dog. What about: (2) The dog likes the girl. 1

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Languages are by nature extremely complex and describing a language is not an easy task. To help with description and analysis it is better to divide a language into separate components or different areas of analysis. Thus, Phonology looks at and describes the sound system of a language, Morphology looks at the way words are formed, Syntax seeks to describe the way words fit together to form sentences or utterances, and Semantics and Pragmatics study meaning. Although these components interact with each other, they can, to some extent, be looked at and described individually.

Syntax, or sentence structure means looking at the way words combine together to form sentences. One way to study syntax is to look at sentences which we already know to be considered syntactically “well-formed” sentences.

e.g. (1) I shot the sheriff. – Well formed.

(2) * The shot sheriff I.

By analysing or describing sentences such as (1) in term of their constituent parts, we can see the patterns that words follow when they fit together. It seems clear that sentences are made up of units and that at one level these units are words. So, a sentence consists of words or alternatively words are constituents of a sentence.

We use S to stand for sentence, and an arrow, →to mean consists of. Thus S → word + word+....

There are rules governing the way in which words can be put together to form syntactically well-formed or grammatical sentences.

e.g. (1) The girl likes the dog. What about:

(2) The dog likes the girl.

Here we have changed the word order, but the sentence still works. This suggests that the words dog and girl are interchangeable. Of course changing the words over changes the meaning but the sentence is still well-formed. Because dog and girl are interchangeable, they belong to the same word category. This category is called Noun.

S→ The + Noun + likes + the Noun.

girl dog

E.g. This girl likes the dog.

This girl likes that dog.

This girl likes this dog.


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Again, this, that, the are interchangeable, they belong to the same word category, Determiner. They act to limit or determine the noun they refer to.

S→ Determiner + Noun + likes + Determiner + Noun

This girl the dog

This girl that dog

If we have This girl likes the dog, we may replace likes with: loves, hates. They are verbs and they belong to the same category.

S→ Determiner + Noun + Verb + Determiner + Noun

This girl likes the dog



Another way of representing this abstract structure is in a Tree Diagram.

S →Determiner + Noun + Verb + Determiner + Noun

This girl likes the dog

This is a much more detailed and informative description about word order and the kinds of words which can go together. It describes sentences in terms of the categories the individual words belong to.

Phrases and Phrase Structure

E.g. A dog chased that girl.

Phrase A ← S → Phrase B

↙ ↘ ↓ ↙ ↘

Det Noun verb Det Noun

↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

A dog chased that girl

Determiner, Noun, Pronoun→ Noun Phrase→ N.P

A dog=subject (NP)

Likes that dog =Predicate. The Predicate here consists of a verb and a noun phrase.


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Verb Phrase (VP)

But: The dog barked.


The cat sat on the table.

Again: This girl likes that dog.


↙ ↘


↙ ↘ ↙ ↘

Det Noun verb NP

↙ ↘

Det Noun

↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

This girl likes that dog


VP→ verb + NP N.P here has the function of D.O

Adverbs and Adverb Phrases

As far as meaning is concerned, adverbs often add information in relation to circumstances of manner, place or time.

E.g. Ken snores loudly = Adverb Phrase(Adv.P)

The baby cried continually

Ken snores very loudly very=degree adverb


↙ ↘



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↓ ↙ ↘

N V Adv. P

↙ ↘

deg Adv.

↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

Ken snores very loudly

Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases:

The Preposition is part of a Prepositional Phrase (PP)

Sally looked up


↙ ↘


↓ ↙ ↘



↓ ↓ ↓

Sally looked up

Sally looked up the chimney

Adjectives and Adjective Phrases (AP)

The fat dog chased the thin girl.

In this example the adjectives are said to modify the nouns. Just as an adverb with a verb, an adjective works to narrowly define the sense of the noun by ascribing certain attributes or characteristics to it.

Disgustingly fat AP

↙ ↘

Adv.P A


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↓ ↓

Disgustingly fat

The Verb Phrase.

Transitive verbs:

1) Kate hugged the baby.


↙ ↘


↓ ↙ ↘

N V [trans] NP

↓ ↓ ↙ ↘

Det N

↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

Kate hugged the baby

2) The dog found a bone


↙ ↓ ↘


↙ ↘ ↙ ↘

Det N Det N

↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

The dog found a bone

3) Jenny hit him.


↙ ↘



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↓ ↙ ↘

N V [trans] NP

↓ ↓ ↓

Jenny hit him

Intransitive verbs:

1) Ken snores.


↙ ↘


↓ ↓

N V [intrans]

↓ ↓

Ken snores

2) The baby cried.


↙ ↘


↙ ↘ ↓

Det N V [intrans]

↓ ↓ ↓

The baby cried

Ditransitive Verbs: DO + I.O

Roy told the children a story.


↙ ↘



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↓ ↙ ↓ ↘

N V [ditrans] NP NP

↙ ↘ ↙ ↘

Det N Det N

↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

Roy told the children a story

Intensive Verbs:

1) Sally became a doctor.


↙ ↘


↓ ↙ ↘

N V [intens] NP

↙ ↘

Det N

↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

Sally became a doctor

2) George is in the garden.


↙ ↘


↓ ↙ ↘

N V [intens] PP

↙ ↘


↙ ↘


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Det N

↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

George is in the garden

3) Sue seems unhappy.


↙ ↘


↓ ↙ ↘

N V [intens] AP (adjective phrase)


↓ ↓ ↓

Sue seems unhappy

Complex-transitive Verbs:

Kate thought John a fool.

A fool= (object complement); John= D.O


↙ ↘


↓ ↙ ↓ ↘

N V (complex) NP NP

↓ ↙ ↘

N Det N


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↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

Kate thought John a fool

The Sentence

The sentence is the main object of linguistic description. This is due to its being the unit or prime at the highest level of linguistic form - the syntactic level. The sentence enjoys a status of independence at its own level of occurrence- i.e. structural dependence, as well as at the other levels such as the phonological level, the sentence being marked off by a unique phonological contour and by boundary signals - the junctures, or the semantic level, the sentence being assigned a global semantic interpretation.

At the same level there also occur the phrasal units, also representing syntactic categories. They share a number of properties and relational properties. They both help to the realization of endo-centric and exo-centric configurations. Attempts to define the sentence in traditional grammars failed precisely because of the fact that the sentence is a very complex linguistic object. Most traditionalists were inclined to limit their definitions to the semantic peculiarities of sentence. Curme, for instance, says that a sentence is an expression of a thought or feeling by means of a word or words used in such form and manner as to convey the meaning intended. The definition is followed by a discussion of the form and functions of sentence. It is only at the end of the discussion that Curme mentions the structural aspect of sentence, its make-up (subject + predicate).

Structuralists focused on the formal independence of the unit S. Bloomfield, for instance, defined S as a grammatical unit between the constituent parts of which there exist distributional limitations and dependences, but which can itself be put into no distributional class. He argues that a set of utterances including “How are you?””It’s a fine day” cannot be grouped on grammatical grounds into one larger form. Hence S is the maximum unit upon which the distributional properties can be best studied.

The sentence is a string of lexical formatives (words) organized according to the following principles: a) An underlying hierarchy of syntactic relations holding between the categorial constituents of S, minimally actualized by the relation of predication between an NP functioning as Subject and a VP functioning as Predicate of the S.

b) A superficial linearization of the lexical items corresponding to the lexical categories making up the constituents of S.


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c) An underlying semantic correlate, residing in the global meaning interpretation of S and minimally representable as a logical predication (a predicate and its associated arguments).

d) A phonetic shape, made up of a specialized intonational contour, the pitch and the juncture, a graphic form which marks some of the phonological aspects by specialized graphic signals. e) Pragmatic properties regarding the functionality of S in concrete communicative contexts.

The logico-semantic correlate of the grammatical unit S is its propositional context which reflects a certain state-of-affairs by means of: a) Predication, realized by a predicate which assigns a property or a relation to one or several arguments. b) Reference for each of the constituents of the predications part.

The arguments are realized grammatically by NP-S, while reference is mainly realized by the system of Determiners in the respective language. The predicate is realizable in each language by a number of verb semantic subclasses. The syntactically relevant aspect consists in the word order possibilities for each language.

Taking into account the form of sentences (including, on the one hand, the deep and surface configuration and, on the other hand, the phonological/graphic peculiarities) and the communicative function of each formal type, there are four types of sentences: 1) Declarative sentences specialized for giving information under the form of statements.

2 Interrogative sentences specialized for requesting missing information. 3) Imperative sentences (or commands) specialized for requesting action, under the form of orders. 4) Exclamatory sentences, specialized for expressing subjective reactions, feelings etc.

The speech-act approach of S forms is not however as helpful as it might appear. If we judge in terms of illocutionary force corresponding to each S forms we shall find that a declarative like ‘I would be grateful if you could pass me the salt’ may request for action, while by using interrogative forms, the speaker may request an action: ‘Will you repeat the question?’, it may convey a piece of information (Did you know they’ve married this morning?)or express both a feeling of reproach and a request for action (How many times have I told you not to do that?) In conclusion, there is no one-to-one correspondence between a certain S form and the illocutionary act the speaker performs when opting for the respective form. We can only say that within the ranges of illocutionary force, some are more typical of a certain S form. Further sub-class obtain if we take into account the possibility each of the type has, of saying according to: 1) polarity: positive and negative variants for each S type.


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E.g. Didn’t he mail the letter yesterday evening? (Negative-interrogative S) 2) emphasis. Sentence types, such as declaratives and imperatives may have emphatic variants resulting from the application of Emphasis (which inserts the heavily stressed verb do). 3) Reduction. Each S type may undergo reduction processes by ellipsis.

Classification of sentences according to the degree of structural complexity:

a) Simple sentences (simplexes) are based upon one predication relation, realized by a finite verb form. b) Compound sentences are based upon the coordination (conjoining) of two or more sentences. E.g. Dinner was over and the kids went to bed. c) Complex sentences based upon subordination (embedding) of at least one S. The tree structure of complex sentences contains at least one S mode (dominated by another S mode) besides the initial S. E.g. Sarah admitted she was wrong.


↙ ↘


↙ ↘

Aux MV

↙ ↘


↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

Sarah -ed admit S (she was wrong).

The S modes on branches lower than the initial S signal embedded clauses. Clauses may be, in their turn, sub-classified according to the V form of their predication:

a) Finite clauses, those whose V form carries the markers of Mood, Tense and Aspect.

b) Non-finite clauses: Whose V form is an infinitive, a Gerund or a Participle.

E.g. John’s telling a lie shocked his friends Ger-cl It is a shame to tell a lie Inf-cl


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Basic S configurations

An inventory of the main S configurations of English may be carried out along two levels:

a) By supplying the relatively small set of deep structure configurations; b) by supplying a very long list of the surface configurational possibilities dictated by the word order. There are two essential aspects of S structure that help us differentiate the basic S configurations: A. Constituent structure of S. B. Relational sequence in S.

A. The Constituent structure of S: Sentences have an internal organization, based upon a part-whole relation between larger units and the smaller units they contain. Syntactic processes at the level of S mainly operate with constituent sequences. 1) Constituents of same type enjoy the same distributional properties and may be substituted for one another. Nominal phrases, for instance, represent a large class of constituents of the same type, which includes inter-substitutable sub-types:

-NP.s of various degrees of complexity: Tony, my dog, three blind mice, an old Romanian folk custom, etc. –Pronouns: he, all of them, mine, everybody

-Nominalization: the building of new libraries -clauses: that Susan will marry next month, James’s sitting up late. 2) It is only constituent sequences that may be substituted, deleted, moved or inserted in sentences, in other words transformations affect only constituents:

Substitution: Bill repeated his lesson yesterday morning and by Pro-VP his sister did to yesterday evening. . Pro-VP

Movement: Mother bought a necklace for Janet. . NP NP

Mother bought Janet a necklace.


3) Location of certain morphemes (the possessive ‘s morpheme in English) is conditioned by constituency, ‘s being placed at the end of an NP constituent.

E.g. The Queen of England’s Speech


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* the Queen’s of England Speech

4) Explanatory analysis of ambiguities is also made possible by constituency demarcations. Two seemingly identical sequences are interpreted differently, on the basis of the differences between constituent types:

a) They were rolling over the carpet. Adv P

b) They were rolling over the carpet. Direct Obj.

5) Sequences of modal verbs are ungrammatical in English.

* Student must can solve the whole test in 2 hours.

Nevertheless, such modal sequences are allowed to occur if the modals belong to two different constituents:

E.g. People who must can learn English in month.

6) Idioms in English have a constituent status. Thus a dog in the manager is an NP idiom, go to the dogs-a VP idiom, Time and tide wait for no man an S idiom.

B.The relational sequence in S

The constituents making up a S enter a number of well defined grammatical relations, mainly materialized as relations between the predicating verb and each of the NPs positions on its left and right.

e.g. The boys were flying a big kite. . NP Main Verb NP

Relational sequences: subject----V---- Direct Object.

The simplest sentences are those whose base contains just one S mode. Such sentences are based on one predication relation. Among these sentences we may distinguish a subset, characterized by the highest degree of structural simplicity. Early generativists called these S-s “kernels” or “simplexes”. They are declarative, assertive and active.

The main configurational differences are dictated by the various semantic-syntactic properties of verbs. Verb sub-categorization into copulative and non-copulative, transitive and intransitive, monotransitive and ditransitive will turn out to determine a variety of types and sub-types. The fact that there exists a strong relationship between the inner organization of sentential configurations and the semantic-syntactic nature of verbs has led a number of linguists to the conclusion that properties such as transitive and intransitive apply to the whole sentence configurations, rather than to isolated verbs. There is a close correlation between the syntax of the verb and the syntax of the sentence it predicates.

Type 1 (copulative Predicate configurations)


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The general characteristic of Type 1 is the fact that predication is realized by a copula (BE) or a copula-like V (become, taste, etc.) in conjunction with a Predicative Adj. P or NP.

E.g. This boy is clever.

This table is square.

Sub-type 1.a (NP) (be Pred. Adj P)

↓ ↓ ↓

Subj V Predicative

Sentences of this type are one-term configurations, i.e. the verb takes as co-occurent term the Subject NP. This NP may be simple or phrasally coordinated if the Pred. Adj. is reciprocal:

e.g. The problem is interesting .

Men and women are equal.

In case the be Pred. Adj . renders properties pertaining to exterior circumstances (temperature, weather, atmosphere, etc) the Subj. NP is unspecified in deep structure and It Insertion applies so as to produce surface strings:

e. g It was frosty outside.

It will be cold tomorrow.

The Subject may be clausal in case the Pred. Adj. belongs to the subcategory including: advisable, necessary, possible, recommendable. As a result of extraposition of the Subject Clause and It insertion, the following surface structure configurational type is produced:

e.g. [That Bill has been to Africa] is incredible -> It is incredible [that Bill has been to Africa]

With Pred. Adj. of the subcategory including (un)likely, certain, some, besides the above surface variant, there may be obtained a surface configuration of the form:

e.g. John is likely to win the contest.

from [ John to win the contest ] is likely .


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The Subject of the Subject Clause has been ‘raised’ in the position of Subject of the main clause.

Sub. Type 1.b. {[NP]^[be ^Pred NP]}

Subj v Predicative

a) Indefinite NP as Predicative:

Marian is a beauty/ His aim is freedom.

Definitive NP as Predicative

We are the owners.She will be the president.

The copulative verb may also take a Prepositional NP as Predicative:

e.g His disease is of a hidden nature.

The Subject may be sentential and it may undergo Extraposition and It- insertion, if the NP is a relatively fixed phrase such as: a pleasure, a necessity, no good, no use, fun. The clause may be finite (a that clause) or non-finite (infinitival or gerundial).

e.g. [That he should learn a foreign language] is a necessity.

(It is a necessity that he should learn a foreign language)

[To visit people/ visiting people] is fun.

(It is fun to visit people/ visiting people.)

The NP functioning as Predicative may also be expressed by a Complement clause (that Cl, Inf. Cl, Ger. Cl)

e.g. The probability is that the experiment has failed.

His pastime is to collect stamps/ collecting stamps.


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The embedded sentences may be indirect questions, relative clauses without expressed antecedent , other complement clauses.

e.g. [What puzzled her] was [that he should have said such a thing]

Subject Clause Predicative Clause

Sub-type 2 { [NP]^ {[be^ Adj P]^ [PNP]}}

Subj ^ v ^ Predic ^ Prep Obj

The VP has one more constituent, a Prepositional NP functioning as Indirect Object (marked by the Prep: to/for/of) or as Prepositional Object:

a) With I.O The document was quite surprising to me. Subj Pred. Adj IO/PNPSki-running is difficult for Sarah.

b) With P.O I am aware of the difficulties. He was pleased with my answer. They were panicked at the news. We are all interested in science fiction.

The Prepositional Object may be sentential (That Cl., Inf. Cl., Ger Cl.). In this case the preposition is deleted when the clause is introduced by that or is expressed by an infinitival construction:


I am aware that things must be changed.

Nobody was willing to give in.

The Ger.Cl retains the deep structure preposition:

e.g. That man was afraid of being bitten by dogs.

Type II (Non-Copulative) Intransitive Predicate Configurations

As different from Type 1, these configurations are predicated by meaningful intransitives (including the existential BE)

Sub-type 1: { [NP]^ [v] } The kids are sleeping.

Subj v Spring has set in.


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These are one-term configurations which may optionally include Adverbial Phrases of various kinds : Manner, Place, Time, Purpose, Cause.

e.g. The man was crying (with pain) - Adv P- Cause

The woman was crying. (bitterly) – Adv. P- Manner

The pupils were working. (hard) (in the school-yard) (at 5)

Adv.P Manner Adv. P Place Adv P.Time

Some intransitive verbs such as seem or happen take a Complement Clause as sentential Subject. The Subject Clause undergoes transformational operations which finally result in surface configuration:

E. g. It seems that prices will go down.

Prices seem to have gone down.

It happened that Gloria was missing.

Gloria happened to be missing.

Some configurations are predicated by verbs that obligatory take [+set] Subject (often expressed by a phrasally conjoined NP)

e.g. The car and the motor-bike collided.

With ‘weather’ verbs, the unspecified deep Subject is realized in surface by inserted it:

e. g. It frosted (hard) (yesterday).

It had been snowing (for three days)

It is drizzling.

Sub. Type 2 [NP] ^ [ v ^ {PNP, Adv. P}]

Subject ^ v {Indirect Obj., Prep. Obj., Adv. Modifier}

This sub-type is predicated by the so-called complex intransitive verbs. They take as obligatory co-occurent adjunct a PNP or an Adv. P. The PNP may be an Indirect Object marked by to or a Prepositional Object:

e.g. He finally submitted to their pressure. (PNP/ I.O.)

The river abounds in fish. (PNP/ Prep O)

The book consists of five sections. (PNP/ Prep O)


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He was looking for his old shoes.

You can rely on this fellow.

Most ‘prepositional’ verbs (except the ones that take to I.Os, as well as abound in, consist of and a few others) allow passivization:

e.g . This fellow can be relied upon.

A subgroup of the same verbs may take a Complement Clause functioning as Prepositional Object:

E.g. Jack insisted on our coming earlier. (Ger.Cl./Prep.Obj.)

Jack insisted that we should come earlier. ( that Cl./ Prep. Obj.)

Gerundial Cl. preserves the deep Prep., while in a that Cl. the Prep. is deleted.

Sub-type 3 {[NP] ^ [v ^ PNP ^ PNP]}

Subject ^ v ^ IO/PO1^PO2

Intransitives with two Prepositional Objects predicate configurations such as:

1. Mr. Shandy will lecture to us on the West Indies. I.O

2. I have quarrelled with my sister about our project trip.


One of the two Objects may undergo Deletion:

e.g. Mary disagreed with her father.


(Deletion of PO2)

Type 3 Transitive Predication Configurations

Sub-type 1: {[NP] ^ [[v] ^ [NP]] }


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Subject ^ v ^ D.O.

e.g The kid broke the window.

They have (got) a new car.

I love all my pupils.

The accident horrified her.

We drank tea and milk.

All these are two-term configurations; the second term is a Direct Object. Reversion of these terms is made possible by the Passive Transformation, which applies to most transitive configurations (with a few exceptions such as the sentence above predicated by have (got)).

In case the subject NP is co-referential with the Direct Object NP the latter is obligatory replaced by the reflexive pro-form:

e.g. Mother cut herself.

With some of the verbs entering such monotransitive strings there is the possibility of deleting this object:

e.g. Sarah was reading (a/ some book)

He drinks too much (alchoolic stuff)

Adverbial Phrases co-occur freely with these constructions. Non-stative transitives can be modified by Manner Adverbials, while stative ones usually cannot allow this type of modification:

e.g. He was driving the car carefully.

*He knew the lesson carefully.

Transitive verb subcategories that may take a [+abstract] Object NP are generally [+ Complementation]. The complement clause functioning as Direct Object may be a that Cl., Inf. Cl., Ger, Cl.:

e.g. She knows that you are lying.

They wanted to see the movie again.

She likes being praised.


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Indirect questions may also occur as direct objects:

e.g. She did not know where to go.

Relative Clauses (without expressed antecedent) freely appear in direct object position:

e.g. She always understands what she is told. / Whatever you tell her.

The Direct Object Clause may be anticipated by the formal ‘it’ Object. In between the latter and the former there occurs a Predicative Adjunct to the Direct Object, expressed by an Adjective. It is only a limited number of transitive verbs that enter this construction:

e.g. John considered it necessary [to warn his friends about the thief]

Predicative adjunct to the DO

Sub-type 2 [ [NP] ^ V^ [NP] ^ [PNP] ]

Subj. ^ ^ DO ^ IO where Prep= to/for (+dative)

e.g The girl offered the bunch of flowers to the soloist.

The great majority of verbs predicating these constructions allow a transformation called Dative, consisting of the reordering of the I.O (to/for NP) and the D.O. and the deletion of the dative prepositional marker:

e.g. The girl offered the soloist a bunch of flowers.

With some categories there occur various types of embedded clauses as Direct Obj. The Indirect Obj. is often deleted in such contexts:

e.g. She promised (me) that she would leave off smoking. (that Cl)

Steve told me what to do next. (Indep Rel Clause)

He could not explain (to us) why the experiment had failed. (Ind Obj)

Passivization of the basic strings results in two configurations: one with the deep Direct Object, the other with the Indirect Obj. as Subject:

e.g. The bunch of flowers was handed to the soloist ( by the girl)

The soloist was handed the bunch of flowers. (by the girl)

The verbs answer, ask, teach, only occur in the following type of surface configuration:

[ [NP] ^ [v ^ NP ^ NP]]

Subj ^ ^ O1 ^ O2


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Both Objects are prepositionless.

e.g. She will teach the students modern grammar.

The kid asked Mother odd questions.

I answered Stephen all his questions.

The strings with ask may take embedded indirect questions (optionally accompanied by I.O deletion):

e.g. We asked (the teacher) whether the paper should be handed in at 9.

Strings with answer may take that-compliment clauses as DO (optionally with IO deletion)

e.g. She answered (me) that she hadn’t seen the man.

Sub-type 3 [[NP] ^ [[v] ^ [NP] ^ [PNP]]]

Subj ^ v ^ DO ^ PO

These sentences are predicated by verbs that take a Direct Obj. and a Prepositional Obj. whose Preposition is not a dative marker:

e.g. The jury accused him of murder.

I shall remind George of his promise

The man took him for his brother.

Passivization results in just one surface configuration, with the former D.O as Subject; the PO is retained:

e.g. He was reminded of his promise

He was accused of murder.

Complement Clauses may be embedded as prepositional Object (with Prep. Del for that and Inf. Cl.):

e.g. I reminded him (D.O) that he should leave earlier( that Cl/ Prep. Obj)

I reminded him (DO) to leave earlier. (Inf Cl/ Prep. Obj)

Sub-type 4 [[NP] ^ [ [v] ^ [NP] ^ [ Adv P]]]


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Subj. ^ v ^ DO ^ Adv Place/ Direction

e.g. Andrew laid the map on his desk.

He thrust the knife in (to) the trunk.

The Direct Obj. is obligatorily followed by an Adv.P (Place/Direction).The strings may be passivized, in which case the Place adv is retained:

e.g. The volume was placed on the upper shelf. (by them)

No complementation is possible.

Syntactic Relations


Before passing on to the three types of predication proper: intransitive copulative, intransitive non-copulative and transitive, we should discuss the morphological and syntactic realization of predication at VP level.

The constituents of the VP are grouped into the following sub-strings:

a) The Auxiliaryb) The Main Verb

The Auxiliary sub-string consists of grammatical formatives that make the grammatical categories pertaining to v. It is characterized by a sequence of affixes (bound morphemes): -s, -ed, -en, -ing that alternate with auxiliary verbs (free morphemes): modals, aspect auxiliaries –have and be.


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Copulative Predication: The Adjectival and Nominal Types

1. The structure of Copulative Predicates

The semantic and syntactic tasks of predication may be carried out by either a) a single lexical item - typically one of the class v, or, b) by the joint contribution of two items, one of which belongs to the class v. On the latter case the predicate is labelled by traditionalists as nominal. The structure of such predicates is in functional terms:

Copula ^ Predicative where the Predicative is realized by one of the following syntactic categories:

1) Adj. Phrase2) Noun Phrase, which may be non-prepositional, prepositional (PNP) or causal.

The copula is almost uniformly the verb BE (or one in some V subcategories with a copula-like behaviour. Therefore, such structures are called copulative predicates and further specify the type (adjectival/ nominal)

The role of the copula is confined to the syntactic and morphological tasks of predication. The typical copula BE is totally empty semantically, as different from the existential BE verb. What BE does as part of the predicate is:

1) To link or connect the subject NP to the Adj.P/NP functioning as Predicative2) To realize agreement with the Subject NP.3) To carry Tense and Aspect, i. e. the morphological category markers.

In conclusion BE only performs the formal tasks of predication, ‘verbalizing’ the meaning carried by the second constituent of the predicate.

Subcategorization of copulative verbs in English

We start from the formal criterion that a copula is a verb that realizes predication according to the rule:

MV-> v ^ Pred. Adj. P

Pred. NP


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Consequently we obtain a class which is homogenous formally, but not semantically. Further subcategorization obtains if one takes into account:

1) Subject selection2) Semantic features pertaining to each sub-class or to individual items.

We first obtain two classes:

a) Semantically empty/dummy- the verb BEb) Semantically poor, but having one or several specified features such as: (+inchoative)- become, go, run; (+ aspectual)- remain, rest; (+existential)- lie, stand

Copula-like Verbs:

MAKE: If you work hard, you will make a good engineer.

Jack and Mary make a handsome couple.

He made friends with my daughter.

The meaning is: be, develop into, turn out to be. The predicative is a NP, usually [-definite].

FALL: His best jokes all fell flat.

He fell a victim to his wife’s cruelty.

He fell into disgrace.

Meaning: be (unsuccessful), come to be/ become / reach a state. The predicative is an Adj. Phrase, a nonprepositional NP or prepositional NP (into NP)

LIE: The book lay open on the table.

The snow lay thick on the ground.

Meanings: remain in a certain state/position. LIE exclusively takes an Adjectival Predicate, followed by a Place Adverbial.

HOLD: The argument still holds good/ true.

STAND: Tom stands alone among his colleagues.

(V ^ Pred. Adj. ) : We will stand firm.

V ^ NP: Who stands first on the list.


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V ^PNP: We stand in need of help.

REST: You may rest assured that nothing else will interfere.

SIT: resembles LIE, its meaning being even stronger felt.

e.g. To sit tight is to remain firmly in one’s place.

Figuratively it means to stick firmly to one’s purpose, opinions, etc.

PASS: They pass for rich. PNP

She passes as an experienced doctor. PNP

The Predicative is a PNP required by the fixed prepositions for and as (the latter a weakened conjunction). Its meaning is consider to be ^ Adjective.

To the above mentioned non-empty verbs, we have to add the subcategory of intransitive inchoative verbs underivable from deep structures containing a copula BE. Among them are: become, turn (as distinct from turn out {to be}, which, like to prove may take the be completion), run, go, wear.

All these verb patterns differ from structures resulting from reduction of two clauses to one (‘double predicates’, ‘predicates of result’) in that they cannot be paraphrased by coordinate (compound sentences) or by complex sentences :

*She will make and be a good wife.

The Predicative

The Predicative is the non-empty constituent of the copulative predicate. Concerning the relation holding between the Subject and its Predicate, one might notice that it is unmarked in English. The Predicative may be basic, if taken by the verbs discussed as copulas, or derived from a compound / complex sentence with a clausal Subject or Object. The derived Predicative goes by the name of Predicative Adjunct to the Subject / Object or Subject (ive)/ Object (ive) Complement in traditional grammars.

e.g. They appointed Professor Jones head of the department.

Pred. Adjunct to D.O

The Adjectival Type

e.g. That shop-assistant is tall/ (very) polite.


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The Adjectives that feed these rules are either non-derived or deverbal, i.e. obtained by the lexical transformation of Adjective from the Verb class.

Deverbal Adjectives that appear in Pred. Adj. position.

Part of them actually are adjectives from participles (-ing or – en) some others are derived by suffixation or prefixation.

Attitudinal verbs are an important source of Pred. Adjs. Basically they are transitive verbs which evince a derivation from the general subject selection rules in that the [+human] NP is taken as D.O, rather than Subject:

e.g. The idea surprised everybody present.

Subj.[-animate] [+causative] D.O [+human]

Other attitudinal verbs: please, frighten, puzzle, astonish, amaze, scare, delight, disappoint, disgust, etc.

Their –ing participles occur as Pred. Adjs. which take Prepositional Indirect Objects expressing the Experiencer.

e.g. The idea was surprising to (cop. ^ Pred. Adj.) everybody present. (I.O [+human])

Reversion of the two terms -> Passivization:

e.g. Everybody present was surprised by the idea.

DO-> Subj. BE+ -en ^v Subj.-> PO

Past participles gives rise to an interpretation as Cop ^ Pred. Adj.

e.g. The walls were painted.

The village was deserted.

A series of Pred. Adjs. are derived by suffixation of transitive verbs when D.O becomes a Prepositional Obj. of the type of+NP:

e.g. to forget smth.-> (to be) forgetful of smth.

to hope smth.->(to be/ fell) hopeful of / about smth.

to envy smth.->(to be) envious of smth.

Subcategorization of the Adjective Class

Co-occurrence of adjectives with nouns which they modify or with copulas which they help predicate determines a Subcategorization of adjectives:


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a) Exclusively predicative adjectivesb) Exclusively modifying adjectivesc) Adjectives that may occur in either position / function, but with meaning differences.

a) Exclusively predicative adjectives are made up of a series of ‘adverb-like’ adjectives prefixed by a and indicating states or conditions: ablaze, afraid, akin, alike, alive, alone, asleep, awake, etc.e.g. The whole building was ablaze. He stood aghast at the terrible sight. He was fast asleep.

Some of these Pred. Adjectives take Prepositional Objects (the Prep they require is included into their lexical entries):

e.g. Pity is often akin to love.

The town was ablaze with lights.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

The rule feature [+/- Complementation] further subcategorizes these Pred. Adjs. Thus, afraid, ashamed, awake may take complement clause :

e.g. I was afraid of hurting his feelings. (Ger. Cl)

She was afraid to wake her husband up. (Inf. Cl.)

I’m afraid that I might hurt her feelings. (That Cl)

Most Pred. Adjectives may appear in derived configurations, as Predicative Adjunct to the Direct Object. The respective constructions are [+causative]: to set a house ablaze .

If quantified, some of them may occur as Noun Modifiers: a half asleep person, a very ashamed girl, a fully aware convict.

b) Another group of Pred. Adjs. Includes ‘prepositional adjectives’ which can never function as pre-nominal modifiers:

e.g. Is your child subject to colds? (a subject child)

Youngsters are fond of pop music.

Another subcategory includes Prepositional Pred. Adjs. which are [+ Complementation], the complement clause functioning as Prep. Obj. Clause:

e.g. Mary was glad of/about your success/ that you have succeeded.


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I am always glad to meet your family, (Inf. Cl)

He is content with his present salary. (P.O)

I’m sorry that I couldn’t join you. (that Cl)

Exclusively modifying adjectives mainly consist of Adjectives hypothetically derived from Adverbs or Avd Ps. in the source sentence: eventual, main, principal, utter, actual, favourite, former, mere.

E.g. The main purpose of his enterprise has never been known.

Don’t overestimate the actual importance of the election.

c) Many adjectives may appear in both positions, but with distinct meanings: slow, hard, heavy, frequent, occasional, possible, apparent, traditional.

e.g. The march was slow the slow march

His child acts slowly (His child is) a slow child.

His luggage was heavy a heavy luggage

He smoked heavily He was a heavy smoker. (Adj NP)

A more complex derivational process underlies the so-called ‘pseudo-adjectives’ which may be: a) both predicative and modifying in one of the meanings; b) only modifying when used with a different meaning:

e.g. She gave me a very civil answer/ her answer was very civil.

He specializes in civil engineering / * the engineering is civil.

Similarly, there occur Adjectives like dramatic in dramatic work/ criticism, performance, atomic in atomic science. Exclusively modifying are past participles which never occur in passive, such as departed and escaped.

e.g The guest have departed/ * The guests are departed, but

The departed guests.

Subcategorization of Predicative Adjectives

A) Subcategorization as to the left term – the NP Subject


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1. Pred. Adjs. with impersonal it subjects, denoting weather, or characterizing time, space, temperature:It is frosty It is very near.It was too stuffy.This it has a situational reference, which is never made definite.2. Pred. Adjs. With clausal subject: necessary, possible, advisable, surprising, unexpected, commonly appear in surface structure introduced by an anticipatory It subject , while the Subject Clause is extraposed:e.g [That he should act like a fool] is regrettable-> It is regrettable [that he should act….](it= formal subj.)

The adjectives: likely, sure, certain, etc predicate strings which can be converted into two surface structure forms:

a) It^ be^ Pred. Adj. ^ Cl.b) A complex S whose matrix clause has as Subject the subject of the subordinate Subject Clause:[HE IS LIKELY TO ARRIVE BEFORE NOON]

Raised Subject Pred. Adj. Subject Cl.

Adjectives like difficult, easy which predicate strings with the surface forms:

a) It ^ be^ Pred. Adj. ^ Cl.b) A complex S whose Subject is The D.O of the Subject Clause. e.g. This French sound is difficult to pronounce.

B) Subcategorization as to the right term. Like verbs, adjectives may take Object NPs., which are exclusively Prepositional at the deep structure level. The object NP may be:1) Non-clausal i) Indirect Object, the NP selected as such being [+human] and the Preposition being to/for/of.e.g. The lesson was too difficult for those beginners. ii) Prepositional Object - the Pred. Adjs. taking [+abstract] Objectse.g. Mary was afraid of nightmare/snakes.

A cross-classification of Copulative Predicates

The classification into the Adjectival and Nominal sub-types is cut across by one based on a logico-semantic criterion – The Attributive Type and the Equative Type (also called Identifying).

A) The Attributive Type is based upon the formula A is B, where A is not equal to B, in which A is The Attributed , i.e. the entity to which the predicate assigns a property , and B is the Attributant, i.e. the one designating the respective


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property. A and B are irreversible , this being a one-term Subject; A is grammatically realized by a definite or indefinite NP, while B may be: 1. Adj. P- Freddy is smart

2 . Indefinite NP- Freddy is a fresher.

3. A PNP: The district is in a state of change.4. A clause: Seeing is believing.

Semantically all these Copulative Predicates express a class of entities. This relation may be of two kinds:

1. Class-membership: AEB , A is [+specific] and [+definite] and B designates a member of potential referents to A:

e.g Mary is beautiful/ a beauty.

2. Class-inclusion : ACB in which A is [+specific] NP singular (a generic indefinite or definite NP) or plural ( a generic zero article NP) designating a set of entities included into a larger set designated by B.e.g. The pigeon is a bird. Pigeons are birds.B) The Equative Type is based upon the formula: A= B, B= A. The A term is the Identified and the B term is the Identifier. A is grammatically realized by a definite NP and B by: 1. A definite NP: This girl is John’s fiancée.2. A Pro-N form (including a Determ. P in a Pro- N position) e.g. I couldn’t tell whether that fellow was he/him or not. 3. A Superlative Adj. P or a comparative Adj. P with a superlative force: This girl is the most attractive of all. This girl is the more attractive of the two.4. A clause: Her attitude was what puzzled everybody in our form.

Predicatives with Undeletable Preposition a) Of-phrases , occurring in rather fixed constructions such as:They are of the same opinion.The event was of a great importance.Be ^ of has a possessive meaning.b) Prepositional NPs in which Preposition is not of.About: It was 7 o’clock and people were already about their business.Above: His behaviour was above reproach.Against: These recent steps are against the public interest.At: John’s mother is at him again.Before: He claimed he had been before me in that queue.Behind: What could be behind his interest in my career?Below: The quality of product should not be below the last year’s level.Beside: Whoever did it is beside the point.Between: This is strictly between you and me.


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For: What is she for a woman, I wonder?

Predicatives with Deletable Preposition

A whole group including of NPs which indicates attributes connected with colour, size, age, quality, shape may undergo Prep. Del. and thus result in zero article NP Predicates.

e.g. These shoes are (of) the right size.

She is (of) the same age.

The Predicative NPs above are all determined by definite articles and Post determiners. Indefinite NPs may also occur in this position. (more seldom)

e.g. The leaves were (of) a dark shade.

The deletion process may extend over the article as well and the result is a zero article NP:

e.g. Her family was of the poor class

Her family was poor class.

Reciprocal Copulative Predicates

Mary and Susan are alike.

All women are alike.

They are alike.

Between the terms that make up the Subject a relation of reciprocity holds, neither of them being subordinate to the other ones.

This selectional peculiarity can also be encountered with the reciprocal verb categories including: agree, differ, resemble, mix, which confirm the hypothesis that the adjectives are similar to verbs.

Predicative Adjectives further subcategorize as to the meaning and form of their Reciprocal Object:

a) Pred. Adjs. that indicate a positive reciprocal relationship: equal, join, married, attached, engaged, close with to NPs.


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b) Prep with or with / to: equivalent (with), identical (with), correlated(with/to)c) Pred. Adjs. that indicate dissimilarity or other negative reciprocal distinctions, all of which take the Preposition from: different, distinct, far, separate, isolated etc.

Non-copulative Intransitive Predications

Intransitive predicates minimally contain one NP –the Subject of the sentence. These will be considered to be simple intransitives.

If a second NP co-occurs with an intransitive verb, it can possibly be a Prepositional NP, which functions as a Prepositional Object. A second possibility is for an intransitive verb to take as an adjunct an Adverbial Modifier. Such intransitive configurations including adjuncts of the kinds mentioned above as well as Predicative Adjuncts are called complex intransitives.

1. Simple Intransitives Simple intransitive verbs are what traditional grammars used to call ‘verbs of complete predication’. Semantically they express events of all types: activities, processes or states with reference to a wide range of possible subjects. Because of the fact that they occur as one-place or one-term verbs, predicating an act pure and simple of some particular person or thing, they are also called ‘subjective verbs’.Syntactically, these predicates can take as optional adjuncts semantically independent Prepositional Objects, as well as Adverbial Modifiers of various kinds:e.g. The lilies have (splendidly) bloomed.(in my garden)- Manner Adv. / Place Adv. The little boy has slept (two hours) – Q. Adv. (this afternoon) - Time Adverb

Simple Intransitives with Particle A relatively rich subcategory of intransitive verbs which no obligatory adjuncts groups lexically complex items, made up of Verb and Adverbial Particle (traditionally labelled as Complex Phrasal verbs). They evince a high degree of idiomaticity. The transition from the structure verb ^ Adv. P to that of verb ^ Prt. is made by a subgroup of intransitives that combine freely a number of Particles , mostly Directional ones.e.g. A gang of thieves broke in last night. The balloon went up. The pilot took off smoothly.Particles like along, away, back, by, down, forward, in, off, on, out, past, round, through, under, up, etc. evince a whole scale of meaning values, from


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very concrete ones, when they combine with verbs of motion, to very abstract ones, in combination with most of the basic verbs in English.Besides locative and directional particles, mention should be made of the aspectual particles, which refer to the temporal dimension of the event. e.g. They set out to win support for their scheme. A hostile reaction has set in. / The cold weather had set in. The cars set off in a cloud of dust.The durative aspect is rendered by on and away which are specialized for indicating the continuation of the event.e.g. He was laughing /grumbling away. He passed away quietly at midnight. Simple intransitives may derive from basically transitive verbs with particle, by means of Object Deletion:e.g. Moore throws in the ball near the half-line. Moore throws near the half-line.

Another class of simple intransitives which evinces lexical complexity includes intransitive verbs, which are inherently reflexive: absent oneself, perjure oneself. Some of these verbs belong to the larger syntactic class of complex intransitives, in that they take Prepositional Object: avail oneself of smth., pride oneself on smth.

2. Complex Intransitives Complex intransitives are two-place verbs, i.e. they take two obligatory co-occurent phrases- the Subject NP as a left neighbour of verb and the Predicative Adjunct / Prepositional Object /Adverbial Modifier as a right neighbour.e.g. A gang of thieves broke into Smith’s house last night. The company has fallen into dispute in recent years.

Intransitives with Particle and Preposition: the class includes phrasal Verbs which take a fixed Preposition followed by its object:e.g. They had done away with this piece of legislation. I cannot put up with his interruption.In between the Particle and the Prepositional Object there may be inserted Adverbs of Manner:e.g. They had done away reluctantly with this piece of legislation. We put up cheerfully with these interruptions.

Intransitives with a Prepositional Indirect Object

Several subclasses of intransitives, among which eventive Vs., experience Vs., relational Vs., take an Indirect Object marked by the Preposition to.

e.g What’s happened to the old man?


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The experience type verbs are seem, appear, occur, sound, taste.

e.g. How does it seem to you? That possibility had never occurred to anyone.

Intransitives with two Prepositional Objects

A number of intransitive Vs may be followed by two PNPs, Prepositional Object Deletion often applies.

e.g. I’ll speak to the manager about my future projects.

Other verbs are: argue with somebody about, discuss with smb. about smth., disregard with smb. about smth., quarrel with smb. about smth.

Some intransitive verbs are used with Adverbial Modifiers, those denoting existence in space such as be, remain, lie, sit, stand.

e.g The man was standing by the window. The man was lying on the ground.


One can speak of a ‘floating’ phenomenon which goes both ways, from transitives to intransitives and vice versa.

In order to derive an intransitive configuration, a verb which is basically transitive has to ‘lose’ its D.O by the deletion of the D.O if their object NP is more or less specialized semantically.

e.g. Whenever I see her, she is smoking (cigarettes->none)

Another process by which transitives are made intransitive is that in which the D.O is promoted rather than demoted. This occurs in ‘active-passives’ and in genuine passive constructions. What happens is that the deep Object is pre-posed in Subject position. The former Object comes to acquire some of the Subject properties (position, case-marking, agreement trigger).

Eg. This material washes well.

Intransitivization can be characterized more generally as a process of term reduction. Deep structure configurations with the primary terms - Subject and Direct Object - turn into one-term sentences.


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Transitive Predications

1. Simple transitive verbs are transitive verbs with one object -Direct Object. The greatest majority of transitive verbs in English express human activities, events in which humans play an agentive part being initiators and controllers of actions or processes which affect or effect concrete entities - physical objects or substances.

e.g *John cut/ dropped [that cl]

The first subclass includes monotransitives which indicate activities associated with affected objects: accumulate (goods, a library), adapt, adjust, decorate, air (the room).

A subcategory apart includes verbs which take as direct objects parts of the human body: bite (one’s tongue), bump (one’s head), clap (hands), clean, cock, snap, fix, nod, drag.

A special type are verbs with effected/ resultative object which are so called Cognate Object, taken by inherently intransitive verbs, that re-categorize, in this way, as transitives: to dream a melancholy dream, to smile an amiable smile, to sleep the sleep of the just.

Some transitive verbs, like MAKE are characterized by a wide range of co-occurrence possibilities, materialized syntactically in the non-clausal or clausal object and semantically in the selection of [+concrete] or [+abstract] NPs.

Make with [+concrete] effected object: to make bread/coffee/a fire/clothes/tea/a toy, a.s.o. This make often enters ditransitive configurations, in which the resultative object is followed by a for Indirect Object indicating the beneficiary:

e.g. She was very fond of making toys for her little boy.

Make with [+ abstract] effected object: to make amends/arrangements/a change/a decision/a demand/a difference/an effort/ a request.

In many of the instances included here make occurs as a quasi-dummy verb, the meaning being mainly carried by the resultative object.

The latter is often a nominal derived from the verb that corresponds to the whole combination:

-to make arrangements=to arrange

- to make a promise=to promise

-to make a request=to request

-to make a sacrifice= to sacrifice oneself


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The nominals derived from the respective meaningful verbs express the result of the activity or process; despite the synonymy with the corresponding verb, there appear several differences between the two ways of rendering the same meaning:

a) The dummy vb+Obj. of result sometimes differs aspectually from the purely verbal one:e.g. Promise to come back! Make a promise to come back!

By nominalisation, the resulting NP acquires most of the specific N features and adjuncts. Thus, countability is very obviously realised by the specialized determiners:e.g. He made a profit of shilling on every article sold.

MAKE can also occur with a more abstract meaning than the `manufacturing` meaning. It is one of the important general causative verbs in English and syntactically, it becomes (+complementation) in this case. Causative make takes a [+abstract] Direct Object, expressed by an Infinitival Clause.

e.g. His gestures would make [everybody laugh]

DO co-occurs less than Make with [+concrete] objects, which is partly explainable by the absence of the `manufacturing` meaning. DO is semantically specialised for rendering the performance of certain activities such as writing, cooking, cleaning, etc and the object is either affected or effected.

e.g. Mr. Booth does the fiction for the Saturday Review.

She does her hair every 3 days.

I have a lot of correspondence to do. (read /write letters)

DO- may be ditransitive verb which takes [+abstract] Direct Objects in a great number of dative construction: to do smb. credit/ a favour, to do smb. harm, to do smb. honour.

-DO and Make only very seldom vary freely as in: to make/to do a copy; to make/to do a translation.

-DO never takes clausal Direct Objects

-DO, unlike Make is a VP substitute, i.e. it is a pro-form which, in combination with the neuter pronoun it or the pro-adjective/adverb so, may be used anaphorically to replace a whole VP antecedent:

e.g. Tom has asked me to write him a letter as soon as I arrive in Paris, but I don’t think I’ll be able to do it before next week.


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A relatively small number of monotransitives with [+concrete] Direct Object denote the use of an instrument for the performance of a certain activity.

e.g. Tom refused to show Peter how to handle the gun.

Another limited group of monotransitives with [+concrete] Direct Object express position or movement in space. The directional or locative meaning is incorporated into the meaning of the respective verb: to enter a place, to approach a place (get near), to inhabit a flat, to join a club (get in), to leave a town (depart from), to reach a destination (arrive at).

The next subcategory includes other classes of verbs which take an inanimate Direct Object. The group includes: to accept (a gift/idea), to acknowledge (a parcel/ truth), to approach (a place or a topic), to claim (a lost object/ a right), to analyse (a substance or a cause), to collect (stamps or one’s thoughts), to deny (a signature or a proposal), to examine (a paper). Some of them are marked by [+complementation].

Transitives verbs which occur only with [+abstract] objects will be themselves subdivided into those which are [-complementation] and those which may appear as [+complementation]:

a) [-complementation] Vt with abstract D.O: abrogate (a law), accomplish (a task) achieve (a purpose), adopt (a method), control (prices), contract (a marriage, friendship)b) [+/- complementation] Vt with abstract D.O: mental process verbs and verbs of linguistic communication: admit, advise, announce, believe, consider, declare, dream, fancy, learn, prove, propose, realize, suppose, suggest, think etc

The verbs in the class below take [+animate] Subjects, but evince no selectional restrictions for the NP- Direct Object.

a) Verbs of liking or disliking: to admire (a person, object, a plan), to love (a person, a country, comfort), appreciate (someone, a gesture), like or dislike (a person, a thing or an idea) etc.b) Mental process verbs: know, remember, forgetc) Sense perception verbs: to hear someone/ some noise, some news.d) Relational verbs (to have, lose, miss, abandon, adopt)e) Causative: to change oneself, one’s baby, one’s clothes, the furniture)

Causative verbs


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Causative verbs (periphrastic, lexical, morphological) are transitive verbs inherently marked by [+causative] or intransitive ones recategorized as transitives and occurring contextually as causatives. They express either mere causation of an event (cause, determine, have, make, set) or an event in which causation is implied, e.g. kill (cause smb. to die), teach (cause smb. to learn), show (cause smb. to see).

Causative meaning has a number of overt grammatical realizations. Thus all causative constructions are transitive, owing to the fact that causation always implies two participants:

a) A causer andb) An affected or effected entity.

They are expressed by two NPs, of which one is selected as Subject and the other one as Object:

e.g. The war caused great human losses.

NP1=causer Vt [+caus] NP2= effected

By passivization the effected entity may become Subject and the causer Prepositional Object:

e.g. Great human losses were caused by the war.

While it is true that only transitive verb constructions may render causative meaning, it is also true that not all causative verbs are inherently transitive. There are intransitive verbs that behave contextually like transitive causatives.

In point of selectional restrictions, causative may take a Subject NP characterized by one of the three kinds of semantic-syntactic features:

a) A [+animate] NP, expressing the agent or animate causer of the action, process or state:

e.g. Tristam ^ caused ^ the cheese ^ to become ^ a paste.

[+causer] [+causative] [+ affected] [+inchoative] [+ affected]

[+animate] [+controlled] [-animate/+abstract] [-animate/-abstract]

b) A [-animate], [-abstract] NP, expressing physical Object that operates as an instrumental causer:

e.g. The mixer ^ caused ^ the cheese to become a paste


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[+causer] [+causative]



c) A [-animate], [+/- abstract] NP, expressing an exterior cause which is neither directly nor indirectly controlled.

e.g. The heat ^ in the room ^ caused ^ the cheese to become a paste.

The Direct Object NP may have the following features:

a)[+animate] and [+/- human]

e.g. She fed her dog macaronis.(=caused her dog to eat macaronis)

The [+human] D.O. may be followed by a Prepositional Object introduced by the preposition into:

e.g. The war turned Bob into a coward.

(Paraphrase: The war caused Bob to become a coward)

a) The D.O may be a [-animate], [-abstract] NP.e.g. He felled ^ some trees in the forest.

The accident ^ caused ^ great damage to the car.

The D.O expressing the affected physical object may be followed by a Prepositional Object marked into:

e.g. The storm broke the window into pieces.

The D.O may be followed by an Adverbial of Place.

e.g. Janet laid the ash-tray on the table.

(Paraphrase: Janet caused the ash-tray to lie on the table)

b) The D.O may also be a [-animate] , [+abstract] NPe.g. The Renaissance brought about a new outlook.(Paraphrase: The Renaissance caused a new outlook to appear)

The verb CAUSE is the most general causative; it may select any types of causer and any kind of affected entity as Subject of the D.O:

e.g. Sarah caused her fiancé a car accident.

A dynamite explosive caused his car accident.


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His own carelessness caused his car accident.

The verbs MAKE, HAVE and GET, often called in traditional grammars ‘causative auxiliaries’ are specialized for rendering the idea of a person’s instigation to action by another person. Grammatically, they only take a clausal D.O, having as Subject in the active form the person expected to execute the commanded action:

e.g. John’s parents caused /got [him to marry a rich girl]

John’s parents made/had [him marry a rich girl]

Periphrastic Causatives: cause, determine, make, have, get.

Semantically, they render the idea of causation quite neutrally, with the exception of have and get which may take an additional range of compulsion or order and can only take an animate, agentive causer as Subject NP:

e.g. I shall have the boy re-write the exercise five times.

The complex verb to bring about also belongs here but with the meaning of: produce, generate.

The main characteristics of periphrastic causatives which differentiate them from the subcategories of lexical and morphological causatives are the following ones:

a) The absence of a corresponding intransitive verb for each;b) The participation in ampler syntactic constructions which often include a Direct Object Clause;c) Their productivity in present-day English.

Lexical Causatives

Lexical Causatives form pairs with intransitive verbs, denoting the resultative aspect of the respective activity, process or state by means of a lexically distinct item.

a) Caesar died.b) Brutus killed Caesar.

The verb die occurs as one-term verb, taking the Patient as Subject. The same Patient occurs as Object of its causative counterpart kill, which is a two-term verb, with an Agent as Subject. The relation between the transitive and


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intransitive verb configurations is localized, in that the possibility of using the same V lexeme: Brutus died Caesar.

This is the main difference between the verbs in this class and those belonging to the ergative class, which evince no lexical differences when used transitively or intransitively:

e.g. Our foreign trade is developing.(Vi) Vi=Vt

We are developing our foreign trade. (Vt)

Here are some more members of this class, with the paraphrase including the corresponding intransitive verb (the paraphrase is a discontinuous expression based on the periphrastic CAUSE:

-convince=cause smb. to believe

-persuade= cause smb. to believe or act

-remind= cause smb. to remember

-teach= cause smb. to learn

-give= cause smb. to have smth.

The same type of semantic-syntactic relation between a V t and a Vi

characterizes a number of pairs of verbs, which are closely similar phonologically. The transitive V in each has developed historically out of intransitive one as a causative counterpart:

Vi Vt

Fall - fell (cause smth. to fall)

Lie - lay (cause smth. to lie)

Sit - set (cause smth. to sit)

Bite - bait ( cause smth to bite)

Drink - drench (cause smth. to be wet)

Morphological causatives

A great number of causative transitives are converted from adjectives which denote an attribute acquired as a result of a cause. Most of these verbs can also be used intransitively with an inchoative meaning. The word-formation process may be:


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1) Conversion: She cooled the soup.(Adj->V; paraphrase: She caused the soup to be cool)Other derivatives: to bare, black, blind, calm, clean, clear, dry, empty, free. 2) Affixation subdivided into: a) prefixation: BE-: becalm, belittle; DIS-: discontent, disjoint, disanimate; EN: enlarge, enrich, ennoble. b) Suffixation: -ate: activate, differentiate; -ify: amplify, happify, solidify; -ize: civilize, americanize, legalize, fertilize; -en: blacken, darken, deeper, fasten, harder, shorten, soften, widen.

Attitudinal causatives/ Experience Causatives

Transitive attitudinal Verbs are also [+causative] as they express a psychological reaction aroused in a human being by an exterior stimulus. The causer occurs as Subject of S, The Experiencer as D.O.

e.g. The news puzzled everybody.

Dative Causatives

This subcategory includes causatives that take two objects, one of which is indirect:

-give=cause smb. to have

-sell= cause smb. to buy

-send= cause smb. to receive

From among the transitive non-causative verbs that have developed a causative meaning we shall mention: earn, lose, lead, win.

e.g. She led him a dog’s life.

The poem has earned him a great rename

The trick won him the game.

Complex Transitives (Transitives with two Adjuncts)

A few subcategories of Vt – s take a post D.O. obligatory adjunct, functioning as Predicative Adjunct / Indirect Object/ Prepositional Object/ Adverbial Modifier (of Manner, Place, Quantity, etc). These Vt configurations are not to be mistaken for the lexically complex ones, which include verbal phrases that behave like single units.


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Transitives with Prepositional Object

Their syntactic function is that of Prepositional Object.The greatest majority take abstract Prepositional Objects which are realizable by a

that Clause. Semantically, most of these verbs denote inter-human relationships: acquaint smb.with something; advise smb. of/about something; blame smb. for something, congratulate smb. on/for something; convince smb. of something, inform smb. of/about something; warn smb. of/about something.

They blamed Tony for their failure.

Complementation is possible with some of them: convince, inform, remind, warn (the complement Cl function as Prepositional Object).

He informed/ warned me that the test was going to be very difficult.

Reflexivization is possible with some of them, if the subject NP is co- referent with the Object NP.

He would blame himself for the accident.

Transitives with Particle

Transitives with Adverbial Part subcategorize as the rule feature for the local transformation of Particle Movement .1. Verbs with Optional Particle Movement :The Particle basically precedes the Object NP; it is moved optionally in post – Object position if the NP is non-pronominal and obligativity, if the NP is a personal pro - form.

The man filled in the application incorrectly.=> Particle Movement =>The man filled the application in incorrectly.

There are some other strings in the domain of Particle Movement: to break down, to clean out (a room), to play back (a programme); to wake up (a story), to bring up (the children).

As a result of Nominalization, hyphenated or non-hyphenated compounds may be obtained; they behave like the ones derived from intransitives with Particle:

The travel agentt made a complete mess-up of our bookings.The accountant did a break down of expenditure.


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Transitives with Obligatory Particle Movement

The subcategory includes verbs which never take the Prt. as immediate neighbour surface structure: the Object NP always precedes the Part as a result of Part Movement.

The government will see the crisis through.

Other contexts include, for instance, to knock (a blow) off; to throw (the ball) in.

Transitives with No Prt. Movement

Except in cases when the Object is a pro-form, the verb Prt. combination does not allow Prt. Mov.

The search party has given up all hope.

Transitives with Particle and Preposition

The last category is that of transitive V Prt. combinations that are followed by a PNP functioning as Prepositional Object. In most cases Prt Mov is obligatory.

We brought them around to a different way of thinking. 1) Obj Prt P Obj

There are some other verb contexts of the same type: to bring subject up against something; to put subject up to something; to put subject down to something.

They were brought around to a different way of thinking.

Recategorization of Intransitives as Transitives or Transitivizations

Intransitive verbs recategorized as transitive by their affected object include: to cry (tears), flash (fire), shine (a light)

She put her arms down and cried quiet tears.

An interesting recategorization which may acquire a metaphorical use occurs in the case of “impersonal” weather verbs:

It rained a November drizzle.


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Syntactic Relations. NP Functions

The place held by syntactic relations and functions is syntax consisting of the treatment of the main functions of sentence constituents: subject, predicate, objects, modifiers, determiners. Traditional grammars define syntactic functions by recourse to criteria other than the formal ones. Thus, the intuition – based definitions they supply are given in terms of the contribution to sentence meaning of each and every function (Subj. = doer of the action; Obj. = recipient of the action). Besides, in the case of Subject and Predicate, traditional syntax resorts to Discourse criteria. Subject is defined as what the S is about, Predicate as the comment upon the Subject.

Structural grammars, which only approach Surface structures, define syntactic functions in terms of their distribution in linear order.The distinction basic – derived function is impossible within such a frame (in traditional grammar it still existed, being couched in the terms “logical” versus “grammatical”.

In G.T. grammars, the essential defining element is the disposition of nodes in the constituent structure of the sentence.


Basic Subject PropertiesSemantically, basic S.s are less meaning dependent on other (sentential) structures than non-basic S.s are: The sentence The parrot spoke is semantically more independent (i.e. we understand it without recourse to another S) than I was surprised that the parrot spoke/ at the fact the parrot spoke.


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S.s in this set cannot be understood unless we understand the simpler, basic S we mentioned first. Basic S-s are also characterized by semantic “simplicity”, they are the semantically primitive S-s of a language, mostly declarative and affirmative.Formally, basic S-s exhibit the greatest morphological and syntactic potential of the S-s in a language: a). the greatest range of markers for the categories pertaining to their essential constituents; b). the greatest privileges of occurrence; c). syntactically they will lend themselves most easily to the main syntactic process in language.

Another characteristic of basic S-s is related to their minimal degree of structural ambiguity. The fact that the basic structures are in general unambiguous can be accounted for by their constituency properties: having less constituents than compound S-s, they evince fewer possibilities for the interpretation.

English turns out to be more subject – oriented than other languages.To illustrate, Romanian is less subject – oriented than English in that the presence of the Subject in surface structure, as well as its fixed position are not among the obligatory subject properties of Romanian, while they are so in English.

The object can be tentatively defined by taking into account the extent to which an NP in a S has the properties pragmatic, semantic and syntactic.1). Independent Existence The property refers to the independent existence of the entity exposed by the basic sentence as to the action of property exposed by the predicate. Some of the non – subject terms, more especially the objects, denote effected entities, whose existence is rather dependent on the act expressed by the predicating verb:

A very ingenious designer has built up this telephone model.

The entity “this telephone model” results from the very act of building up, which has been performed by the entity grammatically exposed by the NP Subject a very ingenious designer.The independence is apparent only in the case of some V subcategories, whose semantics is based on a certain orientation as in the case of causative verbs (oriented from causer – the Subject – to affected or effected entity – the Direct Object).Indispensability. The property refers to the fact that a non-subject term may, under certain conditions, be deflected from the surface string, while a Subject cannot remain unexpressed.

John writes poems for a living.John writes poems.John writes for a living.

* writes poems.

d) Autonomous Reference. It is a rather undeniable fact that the reference of the NP Subject in basic sentences is to be determinated pragmatically, that is by a certain addressee and at a certain moment of a speech act performance. This reference does not depend on the reference of other NP-s that follow it.


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e) Subjects in basic sentences are controllers of coreference phenomena in the following two ways:1. Control of reflexive pronouns2. Control of coreferential deletions and of pronominalization.

Beatrix quarreled with Helen for almost an hour and then she decided to leave the room.Beatrix quarreled with Helen for almost an hour and then [symbol] decided to leave the room.

f) Absolute Reference is connected with the truth value of the basic S versus the reference property of the Subject NP. This means, more especially, a concrete or abstract entity which is referred to or has the property expressed by the basic Subject.

John bought a present for the prime minister.John is talking about the perfect woman.

There is a requirement for the NP. Subject to refer to some entity, in this case to refer uniquely to the person called John. The same is not true for the other NP in the respective sentences – there is no requirement that there exist the prime minister , the perfect woman.In strings such as It is snowing/ drizzling which are generally considered as basic, the subject NP is “dummy”, i.e. non – referential.

g) Topic. In basic sentences, the Subject functions as Topic, i.e. it identifies what the speaker is talking about. It normally carries the given information, thus functioning as Comment. Consequently, the nominal phrase in subject position more often than not contains anaphoric items specialized for signaling given information – definite articles or demonstratives.

h) Definiteness Of Reference. Subjects are very often expressed by “highly referential” NP-s, such as personal or demonstrative pronouns, as well as proper names. In some languages subjects have to be definite, while objects have to be indefinite. In English this property becomes more obvious if we associate it with the ‘Topic’ property. The ’Topic’ has to be definite for the progress of communication. Indefinite NP-s introducing new information are, in general, evident. If no definite NP can be placed in subject position in such sentences, a ‘dummy’ subject is preferred. This accounts for insertion transformations, such as There –In S.

A bowl was on the shelf => There was a bowl on the shelf. [- def] [def]



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The main syntactic function discharged by NP constituents at the level of the Verb Phrase is that of Object. The government relation holding between the predicating verbs and its right-hand neighbor – the Object – may be of two distinct kinds:

a) Direct or non-oblique, if the V governs a non-prepositional NP at the deep structure level. The function of the NP is that of a Direct Object and it actualizes the subcategorial regime of transitive verbs. There are non- prepositional NP-s that may occur on the right of the main verb in surface structure. Their functions may be that of derived non-prepositional object (the Indirect Object), or Adverbial Modifier.b) Oblique , if the V governs a prepositional NP at the deep structure level. If the PNP co-occurs with the V as part of its basic non-categorial regime, then the possible functions of this PNP are:1. Indirect Object, if the preposition is the dative to or for;2. Prepositional Object, if the preposition is other than the dative to/forPNP-s may also occur at Sentence or VB level as free, therefore, optional adjuncts (the Indirect Object functionong as Sentence Dative, or Prepositional Objects, as well as Adverbial Modifiers whose NP is governed by a meaningful preposition.In pre-theoretical grammars the Direct Object was frequently labeled as Accusative Object. Despite this label, Curme, for instance, points out that the form (case) markers are irrelevant for this function, as in: They chose him (acc.) king; versus They chose him (dat.) a wife. Therefore, morphologically, the only distinction recoverable is that between the nominative pronominal forms and the “objective” forms. Semantically, the Direct Object is said to express “the goal, the real object of the activity”, or “the thing representing the goal”. The former corresponds to affected object (the object affected by the activity) and the latter to the effected object (the real object of the activity, i.e. its result).

The Thematic Structure PerspectiveSomewhat related to the case-frame is the theory of Thematic Relations. Theme is defined (by Gruber, Anderson) as the logical topic of the S, what the S is about. Thus, identifying the theme is considered as part of the process of semantic interpretation.According to the Theme Rule formulated by Anderson, the theme is in Subject position if the verb is intransitive and in Direct Object position if the verb is transitive. Consequently, if an NP occupying the DO position in a basic S is shifted into some other position, such as that of an Oblique Object or Adverbial, it ceases to be a Theme.

The poet read his poem => The poet read from his poemThe farmer plowed the field => The former plowed in the field.


1. There Insertion reorders the deep Subject as to some verbal part of the VP (the Aux, the head of MV).


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2. The Dative Transformation reorders the two Objects taken by alternative verbs: Indirect Object is promoted in the position specific to DO in deep structure. Besides, an operation of Preposition Deletion makes the deep I.O. lose its to/for marker.3. The Passive Transformation reorders the deep Subject and Object (Direct, Indirect, Prepositional).

“There” in Traditional ApproachesThere is discussed in scholarly traditional grammars as well as it, as one of the two possible “anticipating Subjects” in English.

The Domain of There InsertionThere insertion applies mostly to strings predicated by Intransitive verb subcategories, among which existential verbs (be, happen, occur, exist, live), verbs of seeming (seem, appear), aspectual verbs (begin, start, remain), verbs of motion (come, run, arrive, a.s.o.).Very few configurations may undergo this transformation, e.g. the verbs need, want and require.

e.g. There needed/wanted/required two more months to carry it through.Passive sentences may turn into “there” construction owing to the presence of auxiliary BE. Besides, continuous verbs forms, be they transitive or intransitive, may yield “there” constructions.The verb BE prevails in the domain of this transformation. All configurations whose predicate contains one of the following types of BE occurrences: main verb (“existential” BE), auxiliary (be as a marker of Aspect – the continuous or Voice – the Passive), configurations predicated by copulative verb BE1) There will be an adequate supply of goals | “existential” be2) There are faires at the bottom of the garden | =>locative existential be3) There was a lady asking for help. | auxiliary be occurrence4) There has been a deer killed by a poacher. | for the Cont. Aspect and Passive Voice5) There was a concerto being played by a famous cellist. => combination of the Continuous Passive

The common feature of those examples, besides the presence of a BE verb, is the indefiniteness of their Subject NP-s.

Other Verbs in the DomainAs far as the verb is concerned, the domain of Insertion also includes verbs other than BE:

There appeared some marks on the X-ray plates.There happened to be a few students in the hall.There occurred an unexpected incident during the meeting.There came a stranger who broke the news to us.There existed some poor families in that district.There once lived in this flat an excentric lady.There resulted a big discrepancy between their testimony and ours.There were arising new progressive forces in those years.


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There seemed to be no escape.

The Indefinite Subject NP ConditionStarting from a sentence such as: The small dog was in the yard. The following ungrammatical string results if we apply There Insertion: *There was the small dog in the yard.The main condition for this transformation to apply is the indefiniteness of the NP functioning as deep Subject. Indefinite reference of this NP may be realized by indefinite Determiners (a, any, some) as well as the “zero” article. The determiner may incorporate negation:

There was no trace left by the thieves.There will be no other changes in the document.

The determiner may be numerically specified or an indefinite Quantifier:

There are two cakes on the dish. There is much noise in the street.

Indefinite Pro-forms may function as Subjects of “there” constructions (anything, something, everything, nothing). Quite often they are followed by Adj. P:

There was something wrong/nothing wrong in her behaviour.There isn’t anything new in the article.There was something add in his conduct.

The definite article may appear as a constituent of the NP-Subject in a limited number of contexts. Thus, it may be part of the Determiner Phrase (Determiner + Postdeterminer) as in:

There was the same man in front of the gate.There is the other delegate taking the floor.

Exceptionally though, “there” constructions may have a [+definite] Subject in the context of an existential question asking for (supplementary) information. Sometimes the answer consists of an enumeration of definitely determined NP, as in:

Question: What else is there in that drawer? Answer: There is the rubber, the red pencil and the writing paper.

There are some more contexts in which the definite Subject can be encountered:

There has arisen the new problem of the status of the worker in his own trade- union.

Determiners occur because of the modifier phrase which further specifies the meaning of the indefinite NP. That is why examples of this kind are considered apparent exceptions.


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The deep Subject is indefinite in deep structure and undergoes a transformation of definitization as a result of its being modified by a clausal or non-clausal Noun Modifier.

The Transformation of There Insertion

This transformation consists of two operations:1. Movement of the Subject NP into the VP Relationally, this means that the deep Subject becomes a Non-term, as it ceases to bear a GR to its verb.2. Insertion of the expletive THERE in the position left empty by the moved Subject. The inserted dummy item THERE becomes Subject of the S.

Agreement in THERE sentences is always with deep Subject:

There is a man at the front door. sg sg

There are three men at the front door. pl pl

The syntactic status of THERE

In traditional grammars dummy THERE is often discussed in correlation with the Adverb whose homophone it is. In GT frame no such relation is established, form of the adverb “there”). In GT frame no such relation is established, owing to the completely divergent syntactic properties of the two items. Thus dummy “there” is immediately dominated of the node S, which lends it the function of surface subject, while the deictic Place Adverbial is dominated by the VP node. In a way “there” is similar, by the anticipatory role, to the surface subject “it”, inserted transformationally, as a dummy theme of the sentence. The difference between these two items precisely lies in the fact that “it” may be assigned to a class of words (the pro-forms), while “there” is hard to class morphologically. As different from the adverb “there”, it is unstressed and way co-occur with place adverbials, “there” included:

There was a man there waiting for you. Adv

The stressed adverb may appear in front position as in:

There is the accident!

We shall supply below the main arguments supporting the Subject status of the dummy “there” at the level of the surface structure:1) The behaviour of “there” in questions (question – tags included)a) Are there three cats on the roof? (derived from the affirmation sentence)There are three cats on the roof.b) There are three cats on the roof, aren’t there?


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In both a) and b) “there” behaves like a subject, i.e. it undergoes inversion with the verb (in this case, existential be)2) The occurrence of “there” as Subject in finite clauses (relative clauses in which the realized constituent is not subject of the clause) and non-finite ones (infinitive, participial or gerundial):

I eventually read the article about which there had been so many divergent commentaries.For there to be so much time left/bothers me.There being so much time left bothers me.3) Raising applies on sentences with seem and happen:There seemed/ happen to be no one in the hall.4) The behaviour of “there” is non-inverted “so” patterns:John said there would be a commotion and so there was.5) The behaviour of “there” is negative or restrictive emphatic sentences:Never has there been such an opposition.Hardly was there any time left.

Parallel Structures with IT and THERE

It an There often share the feature of forward reference to the real subject they anticipate. The difference here lies in the tendency of “it” to anticipate [+def] Subjects, while “there” usually anticipates indefinite ones

It’s time we left (The time has come for us to leave)There is time, we needn’t hurry (There is enough time; notice the deletion of


“Impersonal Subject” constructions have alternative forms with “it” or “there” as Subject:

It frosted heavily last night =><=There was a heavy frost last night.

If we compare the two patterns, we notice the [-stative] feature of the “it” construction which makes use of the respective “weather” verb; as different from it the “there” pattern in stative, it being predicated by the existential verb BE and its real subject being the nominalized “weather” verb/ a heavy frost. It sentences with complement clauses may also have two variants:

It is possible for them not to know the whole truth =><= It is no use doing this =><= There is no use doing this.

There is a/ the possibility of their not knowing the whole truth.


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“There” sentences may also contain gerundial clauses introduced by prepositions, such as:

There is no use/ good in saying/ of your saying such a thing.

THERE in Complex SThere occurs as a Subject not only in simple sentences, but also in Complex ones. Thus, starting from the deep structure:

[An accident to have been in the street] seemed.

We can obtain, after There-Insertion in the embedded Subject Clause, and Raising of the formal Subject there:

There seemed to have been an accident in the street.

A similar surface structure results if we start from deep string predicated by transitive V-s than allow S/O Raising:

Someone believed [an accident to have been in the street]

We shall obtain the following surface string after There Insertion in the DO Clause, Raising and Passivization:

There was believed to have been an accident in the street.


Contemporary English includes in its range of surface structure sentence configuration pairs of sentences predicated by intransitive verbs which evince a great semantic similarity, coupled with a regular syntactic dissimilarity. The former consists in the transfer meaning of the verb and the recipient/ beneficiary meaning of the animate (personal) Object; the latter lies in word order peculiarities (the position of the animate Object as to the V and the DO) and the presence versus absence of the preposition to or for (functioning as a case marker for the Dative).

a). Father gave a new toy book to little Bob.b). Father gave little Bob a new toy book.a). Father bought a new toy book for little Bob.b). Father bought little Bob a new toy book.


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In traditional approaches such configurations are studied first of all in the Morphology section, when Dative is discussed as a case and secondly in the Syntax section, more precisely under the heading Indirect Object and, in some grammars, under Prepositional Object as well.

Diachronically speaking we should notice the disappearance in Middle English of the old inflectional dative, which was superseded (a înlocui) by the preposition to. Besides its directional meaning in O.E., this preposition acquired an abstract locative sense.

We sent a book parcel to Paris.We sent a book parcel to our old aunt.

In the second case, the directional meaning is associated with the change of possession meaning: the animate Object our old aunt designates the person who will come into possession of the parcel, while Paris simply represents a destination point.We should also notice the coexistence in O.E. of verbs with a single accusative object and verbs with a single dative object which resulted in a competition of the two.The old dative used as a single object expressed “a person as involved in an activity directed toward him. The accusative object used to denote a person or thing affected by a certain activity. The formal differences between the two cases were gradually leveled down, so that verbs that used to govern the dative, among which advise, believe, help, injure, oppose, please, serve came to be used with an accusative object.

The dative object survived with verbs that select a personal object like apologize, complain, occur/ come to smb’s mind, belong, pertain to smb, remain, fall to smb. The dative NP used with these verbs is considered to function as a special kind of Indirect Object.

Considering the Indirect Object function, three distinctions are commonly made, namely:

1).The Dative of Reference The Object denotes in this case a personal point of view with respect to the prepositional content of the sentence. The dative case is used with the noun which takes in its scope the whole sentence, and which designates the referent for which the statement holds true.

a. For him, to submit would be quite shameful.b. To me, he is a great hero.c. That is nothing to her.

a. The fact seemed incredible to me.b. It looks to me as if the shirt is too long.

In (a) BE is completely asemantic, while in b) it is a near synonym of transitives like to mean or to represent. These verbs take an Experience which occurs as a Dative Object. In the second set, the predicates are verbs of seeming or of sense perception which, like mean take an Experience that occurs as a to Dative Object.


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1) The Dative of InterestEnglish Noun Phrase in the Dative case may also express the person to whose advantage or disadvantage an action takes place.The for NP Object is more frequently used to express advantageous events:

His heart beat for all humanity.To Objects occur with both semantic values. Sometimes, from is used to express clearly the idea of disadvantage.

He stole the purse from the old woman.“On” dative is specialized for the idea of disadvantage.

He shut the door on me.He has gone back on me.

The Dative of Interest often occurs as a prepositionless NP:

He has already done me a lot of harm.John lent Susan his dictionary.She made her boy a new coat.

2) The Ethical DativeThis is a prepositionless form which was by far more frequent in older Engl. than it is used today. It denotes the person who is likely to have an emotional or sympathetic interest in the respective statement:

Now heed me what I say.This usage is very limited

GT ApproachesMost GT models argue in favor of a transformational relation holding between

strings with a to/for I.O. and synonymous strings with a prepositionless I.O. The transformational approach of dative constructions vary as in the input – output strings in the following way:1. The strings with a prepositional I.O. are taken as basic; the Dative derives surface strings by means of Reordering and Prep. Deletion. One of the arguments in favor of this solution is the fact that the preposition to or for is part of the lexical character of the V or V Object complex.2. The strings with a prepositionless I.O. form the underlying structure out of which their synonymous counterparts are derived by a Dative which consists of Reordering and Pre. Insertion. In this case it is the respective transformation that should specify which verbs govern to and which for.Strings predicated by verbs such as announce, communicate, deliver, demonstrate, describe, return, transfer never occur without a to Object.

The postman delivered the parcel to Mrs. Smith.The postman delivered Mrs. Smith the parcel.I described the scene to my wife.I described my wife the scene.


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The Dative Movement Transformation

Standard GT approaches describe Dative Movement as a transformation that applies on the V- NP to/for NP sequence producing a structural change which consists of:a) Deletion of the Prep. to or forb) Reordering of the two postverbal NP-s

Mary gave a collection of old stamps to her best friend. D.O. I.O.Mary gave to her best friend a collection of old stamps. I.O. D.O.Mary gave her best friend a collection of old stamps. I.O. D.O.

Dative is also ordered as to the Passive rule. The I.O. is promoted as subject of sentence. The preposition does not appear in the passive string.

I promised to John a scholarship.John was promised a scholarship.

Dative also interrelates with the local transformation of Particle Movement.

The man paid back his loan to the bank.The man paid his loan back to the bank.The man paid the bank back his loan.

Mary has brought down some cigars for George.Mary has brought some cigars down for George.Mary has brought George down some cigars.

This optional transformation can only move the Prt. after the Object NP immediately following the V.

Dative Construction and other TransformationsBesides Passive and Particle Movement, Dative sentences are also sensitive to:a) Object Deletion - In most cases, either the D.O. or the I.O. may be deletedJohn has bought some flowers (I.O. del. for smb./ for Mary/ for himself)He will hand in the paper tomorrow (I.O. del. = to his teacher)

b) D.O. deletion occurs by far less frequently, but it is quite possible with a number of verbs:She hasn’t written (to) us for ages (D.O. = a letter)Has he paid you? (D.O. = the money)

Will he sell to whoever wants to buy (D.O. = goods)


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D.O. deletion is blacked with some verbs, after Dative has applied (in other words, the prepositionless construction is only possible when a D.O. is present)

Susan read a story to little Tom.Susan read little Tom a story.Susan read to little Tom.*Susan read little Tom.

b) Object NP Pronominalization. If DO is a personal Pro. N., Dative is generally blocked.

I offered it to John.*I offered John it.

In case I.O. is a Pro - form, Dative Movement seems to be facilitated by the shortness of the item:

I sold my old bicycle to him =>Dat. Mov.=> I sold him my old bicycle.

If both Objects are Pro - forms, Dative is blocked:

I handed it to him => *I handed him it.

The verb give allows Prep. Deletion:

I gave it to him => Prep. Del. => I have it him.

c) Reflexivization If we only consider strings with Subject and I.O. coreferential NP -s, Dative and Reflexive may apply in any order:

Mary bought some flowers for Mary. => Refl.Mary bought some flowers for herself. => DativeMary bought herself some flowers.

Subcategorization of Dative Verbs >>described by Green (1974)The criterion used is primarily semantic, although syntactic peculiarities are mentioned in each case.

1) Classes The verbs in these classes take a to I.O. that denotes the actual or potential Recipient of a transfer.

a) the 'bring' class includes verbs denoting the direct and accompanied physical transfer of an object from an Agent to a Recipient expressed by the I.O.: bring, carry, hand, pass, pull, push.

b) the 'give' class includes verbs denoting the direct and unaccompanied transfer of an object to a recipient expressed by a I.O.: advance, award, feed, give, lend, loan, pay, rent, sell, serve.


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c) the 'send' class includes verbs denoting an unaccompanied physical transfer of an Agent to a Recipient: fling, float, forward, mail, push, relay, roll, ship, throw, slide.

d) the 'communication' verb class is further subdivided into:> the 'radio' class: radio, wire, cable, telephone.> verbs denoting the verbal expression of a message: tell, quote, read, write.

e) the 'promise' class: assign, grant, guarantee, offer, owe, permit, promise.'owe' 1 expresses (moral) indebtedness and never undergoes Dative:

I owe my success to my parent/ to good luck.'owe' 2 - denotes a material debt and it undergoes Dative:

He owes me a great sum of money/ 5000 lei.

2). For-Classes The verbs that take a for NP as I.O. and may undergo Dative display a very wide range of meanings; they denote all sorts of actions undertaken by the Agent for the benefit of the I.O. referent. The semantic role corresponding to I.O. is the Beneficiary.

a). the 'make' class: boil, cook, draw, knit, make, paint.b). the 'buy' class: verbs denoting activities involving selection: buy, choose, get, find, gather, leave, pick out, save.c). artistic performance verbs: verbs indicating an object performed upon, but they do not undergo Dative: chant, dance, play, recite, sing.

She danced us a few bars of 'The Blue Danube'.She played us the trombone. She hummed us 'Let it be'

d). the 'earn' class: gain, earn, winSelling books will earn Bob a lot of money.The publication of his translation will earn him a world wide reputation.

Passive and Passivization

The Passive is a complex linguistic phenomenon, which manifests itself at several levels of linguistics analysis:a). the morphological level, by specialized Passive Voice markers attached to the verb: the auxiliaries be and get and the -en affix for the main verb.b). the syntactic level, by a change in the position and status of the active Subject and Object NP-s. Passivization thus appears as a syntactic process resulting in a disturbance of the basic order of sentence constituents: it fronts the deep (active) Object NP, concomitantly converting the deep (active) Subject NP into a Prepositional by Object, which is placed in post-verbal position and becomes deletable under certain circumstances.c). the semantic level by a change in the relation between the underlying role-structure of the sentence and its functional organization.The agent role ceases to be 'central hero' of the sentence, its topic and, syntactically, its


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Subject, while the patient (sufferer of the action and process) acquires precisely the syntactic functions and becomes the protagonist of the sentence.

The Passive evinces some relevant aspects at the super sentence level, that of Discourse or Text. By the changes it induces in the information structure of the sentence, Passivization plays a special role in the thematic progress of the text. Besides, recourse to passive rather than active sentences in a Text sequence frequently turns out to have some peculiar rhetorical and stylistic effects.

The Traditional ApproachTraditional grammarians used to discuss the Passive as one of the manifestation of

the category of Voice (by 'Voice', traditionalists mean the linguistic expression of the relation between the performer of the action and the action itself, or between this performer <<agent>> and the recipient <<patient>> of the action). Syntactically, Voice is centred on the relation between the Subject and the Object of the sentence.

Despite its important syntactic aspects, the Passive Voice was included into the Morphology of Grammar, although the criteria and topics were not purely morphological. One can find in Scholarly traditional Grammars the approach of the following problems connected with the Passive:

=> the description of the change brought about by Passivization in semantico-syntactic structure of the sentence in terms of a turning of the 'logical Object' of sentence into its 'grammatical Subject' also called 'inverted Object'.The logical Subject becomes a prepositional adjunct of the predicate labelled as 'inverted' or 'converted' Subject. By 'logical', they mean the functioning as Subject of the sentence of the Noun expressing the performer of the action.

The traditional approach is still valuable for the intuition of the process-like character of Passivization, as well as for the discussion of a very rich corpus of passive contexts.

The Passive in Modern Linguistic Theory

In early GTG, the transition from active to passive sentences was an essential cue and proof to the theory itself. Passivization was described as a transformation that moves about the NP constituents in a sentence and inserts the Preposition by and the passive markers on the active V (be -en), all this without altering the semantic reading of the sentence.

The Agentive by Phrase

Passive sentences have two surface realizations that differ by the presence/ absence of the agentive by Phrase. The deep structure of these sentences is described as including an (un)specified by NP which must or may be left out under certain conditions. In GT models Passivization possibly includes a deletion nule which derives agentless passive sentences.1. In the BBC version, Hamlet was played by Derek Jacob.2. The room has been cleaned (by the maid).3. All my bills are paid (by me).


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In the first sentence the agentive by Object is obligatory; the focus is on the very author of the action. The second sentence is focused on a resultative activity without necessarily requiring the expossion of its author in surface structure. In the third sentence, the presence of the agentive by Phrase is redundant, making the whole string hardly acceptable.

Agentive PassivesThe marker of agency in present-day English is the preposition by, which also

surfaces in nominalized phrases of the form: the delivery of the message by an unknown person. Other agentive prepositions used to compete with by in older English, among which of, through, with and in.

The preposition of was the ordinary agency marker, while through and by were used with an instrumental meaning. In present-day English, we still find some survivals of the use of the above Prepositions Object. They are mostly characteristic of highly literary style.'OF' is used infrequently (and only in the above mentioned style) with some classes of stative experience verbs (to be admired/ loved/ hated/ honoured/ understood of smb; to be seen/ observed of smb). It is used in current English after born, when it indicates the source of origin:

There was a boy born of our marriage eight months after I left you.'WITH' occurs with a type of instrumental meaning in passive sentences:

The Minister was met with opposition.'IN' has a quasi - agentive meaning

We were caught in the rain.The chair was covered in black leather.

'FROM' may occur as a close alternative to by, indicating the source or origin.We listened to a speech by/ from the Prime Minister.

'TO' is used with the verb to know:She is known to me.

Agentless PassivesLanguage resorts to agentless sentences in the following main circumstances:

1. In case the identity of the Agent is unknown to the speaker:John was killed in the war (by an enemy/ in an ambuscade)

2. In case the Agent is indefinite; it may be generic or specific:Pets are rarely ill-treated. (by people who keep them)The lost pet was eventually found. (by a certain person)

3. When the Agent is not relevant for the topic which is being discussed.Has the doctor been sent for?

4. When the speaker feels no need to name the Agent because it is very well known ( it being implicitly or explicitly present in the discourse).

Eventually, the thieves were caught and severely punished.5. In case the speaker does not wish to name the Agent.

A confidential plan has been recently entrusted to me.

=> With get + Past ParticipleThe little boy got hurt on his way school.


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