Approaches to Grammar

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  • Created by: lukecox13
  • Created on: 16-05-16 15:12

Structure and Class - Morphology

  • Affix - Inflectional morpheme e.g -ed, -ation
  • Base - form in which an affix is added e.g nation-al -lise
  • Root - Most simple form or a morpheme e.g break
  • Stem - base that has inflectional affix added e.g nationalise-d
  • Derivational affix - seperate lexical items, changed category with affix e.g love - lover


  • Inflectional - number and possessive
  • Syntatic Criteria - combine with articles to form noun phrases
  • Subclasses - proper, common, abstract, verbal
  • Pronouns - personal, indefinite, reflexive, reciprocal, possessive, demonstrative, relative


  • Lexical verbs form head of sentences
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Structure and Class - Word Class


  • Inflectional - -er, -est
  • Derivational - -ful, -less, -y, -ish
  • Predicative - follows copula verb 'be' e.g Barmaids are beautiful


  • Syntatic criteria - modify vers, adjectives, clauses. Can be modified and take complements


  • Closed class - combine with nouns phrases to form preposition phrases


  • Indroducing adverbial subordinate clauses e.g altough, because, while
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Semantic Structure of Clauses

Clause - Unit formed around a lexical verb, containing all required and optional bits by the verb.

  • Semantic Predicate - expresses State, Action, Event, Property or Relation
  • Arguement - Participants of predicate,  syntatic units required by predicate
  • Ajunct - optional syntatic units not required by predicate

Predicates are typcally lexical verbs

Arguements are typically noun phrases

Thematic Roles - Relations between predicate and arguements

  • Agent - Doing action
  • Patient - undergoes action
  • Source - from where
  • Beneficiary - Recipient of action
  • Experiencer - feeling emotions
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Constituency Tests

  • Substitution - Substituting a string of words with one word, usually a pronoun
  • Unit of sense - if the string produces a unit of sense it can answer a wh- question
  • Movement - If it can be fronted or clefted (it was ... that)
  • Coordination - Only constituents can be coordiated, must be same category
  • Modifier placement - modifiers e.g really can be added, works better with major constituents


  • Consist of a minimum of a head
  • Sometimes has dependents which are devided into complements and modifiers


  • Follow the head, excluding ditransitive verb


  • Optional, with variety in where they can be ordered. Follow or precede the head
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Phrase Structure and Tree Diagrams

Representing phrasal constituents through underlining or bracketing can become confusing

  • Root - Top of the tree
  • Branch - The link
  • Node - The end of a branch, can also have mothernodes and sister nodes

Look at lecture notes for examples of trees and how to structure them accordingly

Embedded clauses within tree diagrams:

  • Embedded clauses can be introduced by using an optional complementiser
  • Using an S' to show the embedded clause.
  • Or can use Complementiser phrase.
  • Both evident on lecture notes.
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Grammatical Functions 1

Grammatical Predicate - What is left in the sentence when you remove the subject


  • Protypically semantic agents
  • Inverts with modal/auxiliary to form questions
  • Agrees with verb in person and number
  • Typically a noun phrase, but can be a clause or prep phrase
  • Clause inital


  • Can be direct or indirect, where indirect conform to a semantic recipient role
  • Can be to clause inital position to form a passive construction
  • Objects are noun phrases
  • Objects are always after the verb
  • Indirect objects are before direct objects, unless the indirect object is a PP
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Grammatical Functions 2

Predicative Complement

  • co-referential with subject
  • if co-referential with object it is a object complement
  • Cannot be moved to form a passive construction
  • Agree with co-referential in terms of number
  • SPC always follow verb and come with a copula
  • OPC always follow object


  • Optional parts of sentence that can be added or deleted
  • Can be moved around a sentence

Adverbial Complement

  • When indirect object is expressed as a PP it becomes an adverbial complement
  • Required by the verb, but are not noun phrases so cannot be called objects
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Case and Agreement

Agreement - When a word or phrase morphologically agrees with another in terms of person number or gender

  • Person- first second and third
  • Number - Singular and Plural
  • Gender - Pronoun or other languages

Case - Grammatical feature that flags the function of a word

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Clause Types 1

Declarative - Subject precedes the predicate, English is an SVO language

Interogative - Either Yes/No polar or wh- constituent

  • Polar - Subject operator inversion, operators being copula or auxiliary. embedded polar lack inversion but instead feature a interogative complementiser (whether/if)
  • Constituent - Uses a -wh- question as well as subject operator inversion. Can either be fronted or pied piping through PP phrases e.g who did...from, from who did). If the interrogative is subject it doesnt require inversion.


  • Optional subject
  • If subject is ommited it is assumed to be second person
  • Exception is an imprecative, indicates 3rd person action e.g god bless you
  • Verb in bare infinitive form e.g) to be
  • Modal forms cannot occur due to lacking non finite forms
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Clause Types 2


  • Formed by a what/how phrase followed by a subject and predicate
  • Can sometimes stand alone e.g what an idiot (he was)

Speech Acts

  • Difference between form and function
  • Statement 
  • Question
  • Directive
  • Exclamation
  • There is no one to one match up between form and function

Echo Questions

  • Interogatives are substituted for a consitituent, but is left in the declarative structure
  • E.g you did what?
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Verb Phrases

  • If a sentence contains one verb, this is the lexical verb and the verb group is simple
  • If the sentence contains verb strings or verb groups these are compoun
  • If the first verb is finite the string is finite
  • Non finite forms are either infinitives or participles

Time, Tense and Aspect

  • Periphrastic - Using two or more auxiliaries plus a lexical e.g is going to
  • Past, Present and Non- finite tense
  • Perfect - Complete. Progressive - Ongoing

Lexical and Auxiliary

  • Auxiliary verbs always take VP as complement
  • Auxiliary verbs can act as operators for subject inversion
  • Lexical verbs carry meaning and work with auxiliaries
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Auxiliary Verbs

Modal Auxiliary

  • Verb following must be in bare infinitive form
  • Modals only occur in a finite form

Quasi Modals - Words like need and ought, have same grammatical function as modals

Primary Auxiliaries - have, be and do

  • Perfect - perfect have followed by past participle
  • Progressive - Progressive be followed by verb in -ing form
  • Passive voice - Passive be followed by past participle
  • Dummy Auxiliary - Added auxiliary to turn declarative into a interogative or negated
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Lexical Verbs

Have, be and do also exis as lexcial verbs

e.g Walter is an accountant

  • Lexical do cannot function as an operator
  • Lexical be can function as an operator
  • Lexical have depends on dialect

Lexcial verb classes

  • Intransitive - Do not require objects or complements
  • Monotransitive - take one direct object
  • Ditransitive - take two objects, indirect followed by direct
  • Intensive - take one predicative complement
  • Complex transitive - require one direct object and one OPC
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Noun Phrases 1

Test for finding head if noun phrase

  • Semantic test - What kind of thing are we talking about
  • Syntatic test - number agreement with verb

Dependents of the Noun

  • Determiners - only obligatory with singular count noun
  • Quantificational determiners - words like any, some, enough... indicating amounts
  • Wh - Determiners - shows NP is part of a question
  • Possessives - Words like his or NP with possesive s
  • Pre-modifiers - Optional information bertween determiner and head. Can be adjectives or noun
  • Pre-determiners - e,g all the episodes, half an inch
  • Post-modifiers - PP, verb phrase embedded clause, relative clause, heavy (verb looking) AP
  • Complements - Close semantic relationship with the head
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Noun Phrases 2

Distinguishing complements from postmodifiers

  • Co-occurance - a student of maths, * a teenager of maths
  • PP adjuncts postpose - A student came with long hair, * a student came of lingustics
  • PP complements prepose - what kind of maths are you a student of, *what kind of hair...

X-bar tree diagrams best for representing noun phrases.

NP N' N' N

D   P Pr H

Verbal nouns vs gerunds

  • Verbal nouns are nouns that take all usual properities, derived from verbs e.g knitting
  • Gerunds retain verbal properties, they head VP, gerunds are always -ing form
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Embedded Clauses 1

You know you've got multiple clauses when you've got more than one lexical verb

  • Coordination - two independent clauses with equal status
  • Subordination - sub clause forming part of the main clause, assinged to category of s' or complementiser phrse

Finite Subclauses

  • Declarative - look like ordinary declarative statements with complementisers, can function as a subject or a complement of a V N or A.
  • In many cases complementiser is option, unless it is the subject of the sentence

Interogative sub clauses

  • Subject operator inversion, with yes/no subodinate clauses marked by complimentisers
  • Wh-finite sub clauses are like main clause without inversion
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Embedded Clauses 2

Relative Clause

  • Look similar to wh- clauses but are not questions
  • occur inside the NP as modifier to head nouns, can occasionally be replaced by that or deleted
  • Relative clauses that can always be replaced with who/ which
  • In complement that clauses this is not the case
  • Gap in relative clause, not in that clause

Non Finite Subclauses

  • Complementisers are not optional, either there or not
  • Don't need subjects
  • Bare infinite - objects of verbs like make (Clausitives)
  • to Infitinive - occur with or without subjects and auxiliary
  • Gerund subclauses - -ing clauses Can occur in a range of different functions
  • Passive participle - Passive voice, complement of verbs, adverbials, can occur without subject
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Nominative/Accusitive vs Ergative/Absolutive

Nominative Case

  • We call the subject of an intransitive sentence 'S', the subjects of an transitive sentence 'A' and the object of a transitive sentence 'O'
  • In English and most other European languages 'S' is inflected the same way as 'A'. We call this case the nominative case. We call the case that marks O the accusative case

Ergative Case

  • In some languages though S is marked the same as O and A carried different marking. We call the case that marks S and O in this language the absolutive case and the case that marks A the ergative case


  • Possesive case
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