Anda di halaman 1dari 139

Ionela NEAGU


The Syntax of the Simple Sentence


Copyright 2009
All rights on the present edition are reserved to the publishing house

Control stiintific: Prof. dr. Mihai Mircea Zdrenghea
Prof. dr. Domnita Tomescu

Tehnoredactare computerizat:
Lector dr. Ionela Neagu
Director editur:
Prof. dr. ing. erban Vasilescu

Editura Universittii Petrol-Gaze din Ploiesti
Bd. Bucuresti 39, cod 100680
Ploiesti, Romnia
Tel. 0244-573171, Fax. 0244-575847

Descrierea CIP a Bibliotecii Naionale a Romniei

English Syntax. Basic Concepts / Ionela Neagu. - Ploiesti: Editura
Universittii Petrol-Gaze din Ploiesti, 2009


This book has grown out of the need to update the linguistic information that students in
Philology or Foreign Languages must be provided during the lectures on English
Syntax. I have taken into account the latest trends in this field, but I have tried to
introduce them gradually, always contrasting new approaches to traditional ones. That is
why learners will find issues related to Structuralist, Generative but also Minimalist
Grammar; or concepts that belong to Cognitivism and Functionalism. Theoretical
problems are thoroughly explained and exemplified all the time, followed by useful
activities that offer food for thought to the students.

I have also considered the demands that students will face during the Master Studies or
even Doctoral Schools and I hope I have managed to design an accessible course,
covering a wide range of key concepts and approaches in order to lay the foundation for
further specialised training.

The first volume focuses on the Syntax of the Simple Sentence and it will soon be
accompanied by a second volume dealing with the Syntax of the Complex Sentence and
a Workbook that will challenge students to in-depth study and discussion. I am aware
this is not an exhaustive study, but I hope you will find it an invaluable learning

The author

Petroleum and Gas University of Ploiesti
Foreign Languages Department




Chapter 1 Approaches to Syntax: past and present 7
Classical Analytical Structuralism 7
From GTG to Universal Grammar 10
The Minimalist Program 17

Chapter 2 Syntactic Categories, Functional Categories and
Clause Constituents 19
Heads, Complements and Modifiers 19
Phrase Types and Phrase Markers 24
Noun Phrase 24
Adjectival Phrase 38
Prepositional Phrase 40
Adverb Phrase 43
Verb Phrase 47
Inflection a prototypical functional category 50
Constituency tests 54

Chapter 3 Case Grammar and Argument Structure 57
Syntactic Form. Grammatical Functions. Semantic Roles 57
Constructions 66
Ditransitive constructions 67
Caused-Motion constructions 68
Resultative constructions 69
The Way construction 70
The Impact of 0-Theory on Government and Movement 72

Chapter 4 Predication 75
Inside the Verb Group 75
Tense 76
Aspect 78
Modal Verbs 80
Passive Voice 83
Activo-passive constructions 85
Passive-like causative GET and HAVE 87
Negation and polarity items 89
Predication Types 95
Copulative Predication 95
Non-copulative Intransitive Predication 98
Transitive Predication 101

Chapter 5 Transformations and Universal Principles within
the Simple Sentence 109
V-Movement 110
I-Movement and Yes/No Questions 113
Wh-Movement and Wh-Questions 115
NP-Movement 119

Sample Tests 128
Bibliography 137



Theoretical ideas in this field are changing rapidly under the impact of new
empirical evidence. Concepts and principles regarded in this book as
fundamental have already been challenged and eliminated or substantially
revised by now.

Classical Analytical 8tructuralism

Structuralist analysis divides the parts of speech into: form class words (Nouns,
Pronouns, Verbs, Adjectives, Adverbs) and function words (Determiners,
Conjunctions). The central assumption underpinning syntactic analysis in
traditional grammar is that phrases and sentences are built up of a series of
constituents (i.e. syntactic units), each of which belongs to a specific
grammatical category and serves a specific grammatical function.

Activity. Are phrases and constituents similar concepts? Identify the phrases
and then the constituents in the following sentence:
The little boy crossed the street in a hurry.
Are all phrases in a sentence also constituents? Are all constituents in a sentence

Structuralists made use of three main methods in order to analyse complex
grammatical structures, namely: 1. Phrase analysis; 2. Immediate constituent
analysis; 3. Sentence formulas.

The syntactic level is concerned with the description of the units Phrase and
Sentence as groups of constituents round a head and with the internal phrase
structure of Noun Phrases (NP), Verb Phrases (VP), Prepositional Phrases (PP),
Adjectival Phrases (AP), Adverbial Phrases (AvP). Phrases can be subdivided
until the ultimate constituents are identified:

(1) The book / is on the floor /
is / on the floor /
The / book / is / on / the / floor /

Further more, one can proceed to the morphological analysis of each form word
to separate inflectional or derivational morphemes from the root (stem or base).
The morphological and distributional criteria bring reliable evidence as to the
syntactic category to which a word belongs. Syntactic functions are discharged
by phrasal units generally referred to as sentence constituents: Subject, Predicate,
Complement, Object, Adverbial/Adjunct.

Classical Analytical Structuralism used to consider the Sentence (S) as a
hierarchical string of units, a binary construction dominating the NP and the VP.
Each part of a simple sentence can be expanded so that more complex sentence
patterns are produced.

Here is an example of a sentence represented in a tree diagram or phrase marker:

(2) Sally showed the children the pictures.





Sally (-ed) show the children the pictures

The Verb Phrase is the core of the structure realizing the function of predication.
The immediate constituents within the Verb Group must follow the logical order:
Tense, Mood and Modality, Aspect, Voice.

Activity. Identify the structure of the phrases in the following sentences and
draw tree diagrams:
1. My neighbours bought a car yesterday.
2. Mum has broken a plate.
3. The lion followed the path.
4. This smells wonderful.
5. The children are singing carols.
6. Your cousin must have missed the train.

From GTG to Universal Grammar

In contrast to the taxonomic approach adopted in traditional grammar, Chomsky
takes a cognitive approach to the study of grammar. For Chomsky, the goal of
the linguist is to determine the underlying knowledge of native speakers about
their mother tongues which enables them to speak and understand the language

The Standard Generative Transformational Model (GT) postulates two levels
of syntactic structure: Deep Structure and Surface Structure. The sentence has
been supplied a complete representation in terms of an underlying/basic Deep
Structure converted by Transformational rules into a linearized Surface Structure,
ready to be performed phonologically. Transformations such as deletion,
insertion or movement are meaning-preserving structural operations. They are
relations between intermediate descriptions of sentences. They rearrange
constituents in basic strings and derive a synonymous surface string (e.g.
Passivization the active string is analysed as the deep structure; the passive
string represents the surface structure.)

Activity. Identify the operations that take place while turning the following
active strings into passive:
1. The children have eaten the cake.
2. Someone broke into our house yesterday.

Moreover, the Generative Transformational Grammar (GTG) describes the
definite set of rules by means of which an infinite number of grammatical
sentences are generated and possibly transformed (as explained above).

Further refinement of this approach took place once Chomsky launched in 1981
the Government and Binding (GB) Model. The Government and Binding
Model assumes that grammar at large is common to all languages, making up a
Universal Grammar. The Universal Grammar represents the theory of the initial
state of the language faculty which, in Chomskyan tradition, seems to be
genetically determined and which undergoes multiple changes in a continuous
process of creative generation of structural descriptions, in order to reach the
current state, namely the grammar we use today, our I-language. Or to put it
better, our I-language (where I=1, i.e. only one language) as this language is
internal - representing human endowment, it is individual representing a
persons mind and it is also intensional covering all properties and relations
that help the speaker mould his thoughts.

The language model of GB looks as follows:

Movement/ move-


Phonetic Form (PF) Logical Form (LF)/ Semantic component

The transformational subcomponent of GTG is reduced to the move- rule
(where u is the constituent that moves). Other rules like deletion, for instance,
operate at the level of the Phonological Component. Move- is considered a
simple rule by which any item can move anywhere, since GB assumes the
existence of a system of constraints which will allow this movement to produce
correctly, imposing certain restrictions on the process.

Within GTG, the binary constituent structure of the sentence (S) used to be
considered an exocentric construction, i.e. a phrase without a head or centre,
being based on mutual dependency relations between the Subject NP and the
Predicate VP.

The GB frame has replaced the concept of Sentence as a result of the headedness
principle, according to which all phrases are headed. Lexical categories such as
nouns, verbs, adjectives or prepositions are the heads of the phrases they
represent. A head opts for certain lexical categories to combine with in order to
form a phrase depending on the properties of that head. The lexical category
selected by a head is called complement.

Specifiers precede the head and they are not subcategorized for. For instance, the
synthetic genitive, the determiners that precede a head noun or degree words that
precede an adjective head fall into the category of specifiers.
GB tries to capture the similarities between different categories of lexical phrases
by assigning the same structure to them. The X-bar Theory is based on two rules
that cover all lexical categories:

(4) XP Specifier X
X X Complements

Basic X-bar (X) Structure
XP (X) maximal projection

Specifier X intermediate projection

X - head complement(s)

The relationships between the constituents can be understood in more familiar
terms, such as: the maximal projection is the mother of the two nodes below it;
the Specifier and the X nodes are its daughters and they are sisters to each other;
the intermediate X projection is mother to the two nodes below it which thus
become its daughters.
The X-bar Theory can be extended to sentences and clauses in which case the
Subject NP is said to occupy the specifier position, while the sentence becomes
an Inflection Phrase whose head I covers the tense and agreement features and
the subordinate clause is a Complementizer Phrase having the Complementizer
as its head. The complementizer subcategorises for its complement which can
take the form of a finite or non-finite Inflection Phrase. For example,
complementizers that or whether subcategorise for a finite complement, while for
requires a nonfinite complement.
The Sentence comes to be described as an endocentric Inflection Phrase (IP),
having as head the functional category of Inflection (I). Inflection, the head of
the sentence, is a verbal functional category. It represents a bundle of verbal and
nominal features: tense, agreement and mood features. Inflection (I) is
considered the head of the sentence because it governs the VP and it agrees with
the Subject Deep Phrase.

(5) She decorated the room.
IP maximal projection (I)


N I VP (V)

N T Agr V

She -ed [+sg] V NP

decorated DET N

the N


In 1928, Hjelmslev stated that the head and its dependent term can be bound
either by agreement (concord) or by government, as follows:
if they are bound by agreement, like in those pictures, the dependent term
those shows its relation of dependence on the head-noun pictures by
obvious agreement in number which is an inherent category of the head-

if they are bound by government, as in tell me, the dependent NP me is
marked for the Dative case to show its dependence on the verb, but the
category of case is not inherent in the head, as case is not a verbal

Black (1999: 38) provides a simpler definition of government:
A head (N, V, A, P, I[+fin], C[for]) GOVERNS its NP specifier and its NP
complement and the NP specifier of an IP[-fin] complement.

Activity. True or False
1. Specifiers are never subcategorized for.
2. Heads subcategorise either for a complement or for the head of a complement.

Activity. Provide examples to account for the following Case assignment rules
as rephrased by Black (1999: 38) in terms of government:
a. I[+fin] assigns nominative case to the NP specifier that it governs.
b. N assigns genitive case to the NP specifier that it governs.
c. V, P, C[for] assign accusative case to the NP that they govern.

The relation between two nodes part of the same constituent (as in decorated the
room) is called constituent-command / c-command, defined after Reinhart
(1976) as follows:

(6) c-command
c-commands iff,
a) does not dominate and
b) the first branching node dominating dominates .
Later on linguists redefined this relation (sometimes even labeling it M-
command) as reproduced below, noticing for instance that the Subject NP c-
commands any NP in the VP due to the first maximal node above it, which is the
sentence node.
(7) c-commands iff, every maximal projection dominating dominates .

An informal definition can be the following:
(8) Any constituent c-commands both its sister constituent and all the other
constituents dominated by the sister.

The c-command relation has proved its importance when understanding anaphors
(reflexives and reciprocals) and (negative/ interrogative) polarity items. Further
details will be provided in the following chapters.
Consider the example below and pay attention also to another way of drawing the
tree diagram:

(9) Mary called her mother.



I[+finite] VP


called her mother

In the example above, we wonder whether the NP Mary c-commands the NP her
mother. The first requirement is fulfilled as NP Mary does not dominate NP her
mother because they belong to different branches. The first branching node
dominating NP Mary is IP which also dominates NP her mother, which proves
that NP Mary c-commands NP her mother. Another line of argument is that the
NP Mary c-commands its sister node I and all the other constituents dominated
by it.

The c-command relation is reciprocal in that it functions both ways between
sister nodes. For instance, we can say that the head V called and its sister
Complement her mother c-command each other.

Activity. Create your own examples according to the diagram below and identify
all c-command relations:



Spec N I VP

N Compl Spec V

V Compl

The Minimalist Program

The shift from GB to the Minimalist Program (MP) is motivated by the same
tension between descriptive and explanatory adequacy which has always
motivated the reshaping of generative grammar.

Any theory of language must include a lexicon which informs the speaker about
all phonological, syntactic and semantic properties of certain lexical items. The I-
language is structured or generated by means of the lexicon and a computational
system. The operations of the computational system help ensure the accurate
form of all structural descriptions (SDs) that the speaker will possibly perform.

Activity. Account for the relationship between the following concepts:
competence performance
finite means infinite use

X-bar Theory proved the phrase structure rules to be superfluous. Thus, they
were eliminated so that UG should be feasible. Within the Principles and
Parameters Approach, transformational rules become universal principles that
can be applied on any expression. Language variation is determined by the
interaction of these principles with one another. That is why, for instance,
Chomsky considers command and government as fundamental concepts that
apply throughout the modules of language (Binding theory, 0-Theory, Case
theory, etc.). Principles are language-invariant, whereas language-particular
features are the result of specific values ascribed to certain parameters.

The notion of construction, in the traditional sense, effectively disappears; it is perhaps
useful for descriptive taxonomy but has no theoretical status. Thus, there are no such
constructions as Verb Phrase, or interrogative and relative clause, or passive and raising
constructions. Rather, there are just general principles that interact to form these descriptive
artifacts. (Chomsky, 1995: 26)

The principle of endocentricity is still present as an operation called Merge
applies to two root nodes of two syntactic objects to form a new object, labeled
according to the head-component which projects. Bare Phrase Structure makes
no distinction between different bar-levels as they are invisible at the interface
and for computation.
name NP
or just:
his name his name

The new trees are considered by Chomsky as set-theoretic entities, as the Merge
operation always applies to two lexical items, u and , to produce the set {u, },
i.e. a single element with a more complex structure.

However, the Minimalist approach evinces several other similarities and
differences with respect to X-Theory which require further in-depth study.

Activity. True or False
1. An endocentric construction is a phrase with a head.
2. The Bare Phrase Structure distinguishes between a specifier and a
3. Transformational rules change the meaning of the basic Deep Structure.
4. Within his UG approach, Chomsky claims that the child is biologically
endowed with an innate language faculty that helps him acquire any natural
language as his native language.


Heads, Complements and Modifiers

Clause constituents are mainly referred to in terms of syntactic categories (NP,
AP, VP, PP, AdvP) and grammatical functions (subject, complement, modifier or
traditional syntactic functions: subject, predicate, direct/indirect object,
subject/object complement, adverbials). We will observe that the grammatical
function and form of each constituent depend on where it occurs or what it
combines with. The combinatory properties of words and phrases involve two
aspects of syntax: internal and external syntax. Internal syntax deals with the
inner structure of the phrase, whereas external syntax focuses on the use of a
phrase in a larger construction.

In Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (1965), Chomsky suggested that lexical
categories should no longer be treated as atomic symbols, but as complex symbols
structured into sets of syntactic and semantic features by means of
subcategorisation rules. Strict subcategorisation rules provide the local
distributional context where the respective lexical category can occur due to
particular syntactic features, whereas selectional rules analyse the inherent or
contextual semantic features of that lexical constituent.

Minimal syntagms teach learners how to use a word correctly as they represent
the items subcategorisation frame. Notice the organisation of such a frame for
the verb to reach.
(1) reach
[+ V] categorial feature
[+ __NP] strict subcategorisation feature
[+ (achievement)] inherent semantic feature
[+ <[( Animate)]NP --- [(+ destination)]>] contextual semantic

The categorial feature specifies the syntactic category the lexical constituent
belongs to, in our case [+ V]. The strict subcategorisation feature identifies the
syntactic category of the obligatory component that the verb reach must select
in order to form a correct phrase. Thus the verb reach must always be followed
by an NP. Notice that within the strict subcategorisation frame, the syntactic
category of the constituent that can fill in the subject position is never mentioned.
The last two types of features represent the selectional restrictions of the lexical
item under study. Hence, the verb reach is an achievement verb (according to
Vendlers classification) representing the final act of an Animate subject NP
moving towards a destination. The contextual semantic features clearly resemble
and anticipate the theta grid of the verb reach that can be designed according to
the theory of semantic/thematic roles discussed in another chapter:

reach: <agent, goal>

Observe also the following examples:
(2) a. *These songs [remind me].

b. * These songs [remind of my childhood].
c. * These songs [remind me vaguely].
d. * These songs [remind me to spend my childhood].
e. These songs [remind me of my childhood].

A * before a word, phrase or sentence indicates deviance.
The only acceptable sentence is (2e) because it is the only one which fulfills the
condition that the verb to remind requires an NP and a PP as its complements due
to its internal, lexical properties. Some of the unacceptable examples in (2) can
become correct when used in the appropriate contexts:
(3) a. It is a wonderful period of my life of which these songs [remind me].
b. Here are some pictures from the childhood of which these songs
[remind me vaguely].

External contexts can once again turn the well-formed VP in (2e) into
unacceptable ones, as in the following examples:
(4) a. *Mother wanted [remind me of my childhood].
b. Mother wanted [to remind me of my childhood].

The sentence (4a) is unacceptable because the verb want must be followed by a
long infinitive/ to-infinitive as in (4b), not by a short infinitive.

Within the phrase
, there is one obligatory element which defines it and
determines its projection into a larger phrasal constituent. In lexical terms, such
an element can be a noun, verb, adjective or preposition; in structural terms, they
are called heads. The phrase that a lexical category takes or selects is called a
complement. As explained in the previous examples, the head verb remind must
be accompanied by an NP and a PP which are its complements. Here are other
(5) remind V [ _ NP, PP[of] ]
tell V [ _ NP, NP]
depend V [ _ PP[on]]
die V [ _ ]

The phrase sometimes includes other words/phrases which precede the head and which are not
subcategorized for. These are called specifiers and comprise determiners, indefinite pronouns, synthetic
genitives and degree words.


In addition to the complements of a head, a phrase may also contain modifiers
(or also called adjuncts) which are not selected by the verb, but provide further
information about the action denoted by the verb.

(6) a. read V [ _ NP]
John is reading a book in the garden.
b. cut V [ _ NP]
The cook has cut the bread carefully.

In the above examples (6), as indicated by the subcategorisation frames, both
verb heads read and cut require the use of an NP as complement, but they may
also take other phrases in the garden and carefully as their modifiers, providing
details about the place and the manner of the actions expressed.

A phrase including the head with all its complements is called a minimal
A phrase that includes both the head with its complements and the modifiers is
called a maximal phrase.

Here are some of the differences that help one identify the complements and the
modifiers in a phrase (adapted after Kim and Sells, 2007):

complements are obligatory items, whereas modifiers are optional:
(7) give V [ _ NP, NP]
You must give me the report (on Monday).

Modifiers of the same type of phrase can follow the verb head whereas
two complements of the same type cannot co-occur with the same verb
(8) a. *Mary was writing a letter [to her aunt] [to her grandma].
b. Mary was writing a letter to her aunt [on Sunday] [at 8 oclock].
The examples in (8) prove that the two complements functioning as indirect
objects in (8a) cannot co-occur with the same verb head, whereas the two
modifiers functioning as adverbial phrases of time in (8b) can accompany the
same verb head.

The minimal phrase (verb + its complements) can be replaced by do the
same thing in order to avoid repetition in a complex sentence:
(9) a. The teacher drew a cat and the pupils did the same thing.
b. The teacher drew a cat on the blackboard and the pupils did the same
thing in their notebooks.
In (9b) one can notice the two optional modifiers that are different in the two
clauses: on the blackboard and in their notebooks.

Complements follow the lexical head, whereas modifiers follow the
complements. Moreover, modifiers can change their position within the
sentence, whereas complements cannot.
(10) The groom made the announcement before dinner.
Before dinner the groom made the announcement.
*The announcement made the groom before dinner.
*the groom made before dinner the announcement.

Modifiers can co-occur with a large range of heads, whereas complements
are selected by certain heads:
(11) a. Diane wrote/ read/ received the letter yesterday afternoon.
b. Diane told Michael the truth yesterday afternoon.
c. *Diane told the letter the truth yesterday afternoon.

In (11a) the NP the letter functions as the complement of lexical heads such as
wrote/ read/ received, but it cannot follow the verb to tell (11c) which requires
only [+ ANIMATE] complements.

Phrase Types and Phrase Markers

Noun Phrase

The Structure of Noun Phrases a morpho-syntactic analysis

Generally speaking, a noun-phrase (abbreviated NP) is a phrase having a noun as
head. For instance, in the example:
(12) Children are wonderful.
we say that children is a NP functioning as the Subject of the sentence.

However, morphology teaches us that a noun can be preceded by a determiner,
such as an article. Compare now the following NPs:

(13) (a) children
(b) the children

Taking into account that sentence (12) proved that the NP children may occur
without the definite article the, we can state that any NP needs a head-noun and
it can also be preceded by an optional determiner. In syntax, this statement can
be expressed by the following phrase-structure rule:
(14) NP (Det) N

Remember that Determiners can be: predeterminers, central determiners and
The class of central determiners includes: the articles, the possessive and
demonstrative pronouns and several indefinite pronouns.
(15) (a) the book
(b) my rights
(c) no reason

Predeterminers precede the central determiner that qualifies a head noun:
(16) (a) half the books
(b) all my rights
Postdeterminers follow the central determiner:
(17) (a) the other day
(b) my first books
(c) those three reasons

Except for the ordinal and cardinal numerals that may occur together functioning
as postdeterminers as in (18 (a)), it seems that no other two determiners of the
same type may co-occur in a NP:

(18) (a) the first two days
(b) *my the dog
(c) *all many chapters

Nevertheless a NP like all those beautiful antique red-and-white Japanese
bedside lamps is correct. So adjectives do not belong to the class of Determiners.
Adjectives, participles, inflective genitives, nouns, adverbs that are placed
between a determiner and its head noun fall into the class of premodifiers.
Furthermore, any unit (a word, a phrase or even a clause) immediately following
the head noun is called a postmodifier.

The table below provides examples of NPs and their morphological structure:
- a - - carpet -
both these - - students -
all the last fifty - pages to read
some of his first leather jackets -
each of those - famous leaders who spoke yesterday
none of your - mothers blouses -
- a whole - mile to the store
- the - - flat next door
- the - grocers (shop) -
- - - Janets husband -
- - - - court martial

Activity. Check your comprehension by adding further items into the empty slots.
Account for your choice.

Syntactically, we can represent the structure of a sentence using the so-called tree
diagrams or Phrase-markers as we have done the previous chapter.
Phrase-markers are diagrams made up by connecting a set of nodes. The lines
that connect the nodes are called branches.
On a vertical axis, the nodes in a Phrase-marker are related by dominance. We
say that one node N1 dominates another N2 if N1 is represented higher up the
tree than N2. On a horizontal axis, the nodes in a Phrase-marker are related by
precedence. We say that one node N1 precedes another N2 if N1 occurs to the
left of N2.
Basically, these are the first principles that representatives of Transformational
Syntax found important as regards the representation of phrase-structures. New
principles have followed once they adopted other approaches to Syntax.
All nodes are labeled according to the dominance relation: from the S-node (the
Sentence) which immediately dominates a NP and a VP that in turn dominate
other phrases or only lexical categories (N, V, P, etc.) represented by the terminal
nodes, namely the lexical items (the words) that make up the sentence.

As this subchapter is restricted to the study of NPs, lets examine the structure of
several simple and complex NPs and the way they can be represented.
(20) (a) a movie
(b) each star

Det N Det N
a movie each star

Notice that although the head-noun in 20(a) is preceded by a Central Determiner,
whereas the head-noun in 20(b) is preceded by a Predeterminer, the tree diagram
specifies the general label of the class: Determiner.

(21) an exquisite vase
Det N
an exquisite vase

The Government and Binding approach focuses on the similarities between
different types of phrases trying to assign them the same structure. That is why,
as the diagram shows, a new node labeled N (N-bar) has been created to
dominate two different lexical units: and adjective and a noun. According to the
X-bar Theory, the head of the phrase is said to be preceded by a Specifier and
followed by a Complement.

In (21), the Determiner is in Specifiers position. NP specifiers include
Determiners and possessive NPs. In (22) below, plane is the head-noun and
Michaels is the Specifier.

(22) Michaels plane has landed.
NP or: NP
Det N NP[+poss] N
N[+poss] N
NP N N [+poss]
Michael s plane Michaels plane

Other complex NPs involve a head-noun preceded by Determiner, Adjectival
Phrase and possessive phrase. In a NP like (23), identity is the head-noun, false is
an adjunct, the young mans is the specifier.
Paul Roberts (1968: 279) explains how such a structure can be derived by means
of the Possessive Transformation (or T-poss) applied on an initial sentence
(insert sentence) whose subject takes the possessive morpheme and replaces the
definite article in a matrix clause. In our case, a NP like (23) is derived from the
initial sentence: The young man had a false identity. This sentence can be
inserted into a matrix sentence like: The false identity misled the authorities. By
applying T-pass, the result sentence will be: The young mans false identity
misled the authorities.

(23) the young mans false identity

NP[+poss] N
Det N[+poss] AP N
AP N[+poss] A
A N[+poss] A

the young mans false identity

The NP can also be postmodified by nouns, adjectives, prepositional phrases or
even clauses. Whenever the head noun requires one of these we say that it selects
its complements.
We discuss here the case of prepositional phrases (PPs) as modifiers and
complements of the head-noun, including both the PP in the Accusative (24) and
the Analytical Genitive construction (the of-Genitive) (25).

In (24), the head-noun is books, the Determiner is the specifier and the NP that
shelf is the complement of the preposition from. The whole PP from that shelf
functions as modifier and not as noun complement fact which can be tested by
trying to insert other similar modifiers: the books from that shelf from the
(24) the books from that shelf
Det N
Det N

the books from that shelf

In a phrase like the books on contemporary linguistics the Prepositional Phrase
on contemporary linguistics functions is the Complement of the head noun. We
can say that they are sisters of the same node N as the Complement completes
the meaning of the head noun. The difference between modifiers and
complements is that while modifiers add further information about the head
noun, its complements are necessary, they are selected by the noun.

(25) the colours of the rainbow
Det N
Det N
the colours of the rainbow
In (25), colours is the head-noun, the Determiner is in specifiers position and the
possessive prepositional phrase is a complement in the NP, the sister of the head

Binding Theory

Binding Theory specifies coreference relations between several NPs within a
Generally speaking, students may remember the concept of reference as
associated to morphology and especially to the functions of the articles (see the
table below). Remember for instance the anaphoric reference, i.e. backward
reference of the article to an item previously mentioned, or the cataphoric
reference, i.e. forward reference of the article to the following detailed
description of the item it introduces.

1. Implicit/ situational
Eg.: Shut the window, will
the Earth, the sun

1. Individualizing function
Eg.: They have a son and a


Eg.: Mother; Father;
Sunday/ Thursday;
(The) Summer was ending.
Measles is contagious.
(Pojarul este contagios.)

2. Anaphoric reference
[ ]

Eg.: I ordered a book and the
book has just arrived.

3. Explicit/ linguistic
Eg.: He is sitting at the first
She was wearing the new

4. Cataphoric reference
[ ]

Eg.: The road between the
trees is narrow.


1. Classifying function
Eg.: The horse is a useful
[all horses]
the rich, the people, the
Can you play the piano?


1. Deictic/ demonstrative
(the = this, that)
Eg.: I could not remember it
at the time.

2. Distributive function
(the = each)
Eg.: This material sells at 80p
the meter.
His popularity increases by
the day.

3. Idiomatic function
Eg.: in the morning/afternoon;
in the beginning; to throw the
book at someone (= to
punish); to be on the


1. Classifying function
Eg.: He is a teacher.


1. Epiphoric reference
[ ]

Eg.: As I was passing down
the street, a flowerpot came
down with a crash.

2. Cataphoric reference

Eg.: a flowerpot from the

3. Distributive function
Eg.: once a day; twice a

4. Numerical function (a =
Eg.: Ill come back in a day
or two.
They are of an age/ of a size.

5. Idiomatic function
Eg.: in a hurry; as a reward;
what a pity!; in a loud/ low
voice; What a cold day!
such a good day = so good a

1. Classifying function
Eg.: Potatoes are vegetables.
Man is mortal.


1. Epiphoric reference

Eg.: There were birds in the sky,
flowers in the grass

2. Idiomatic function

Eg.: at noon; at night;
arm in arm; hand in hand; by mistake;
by chance; by heart; go to school/bed;
have lunch; at home; by bus/ train;
from top to toe; on foot; on board/deck.

However, Chomsky introduces the term anaphor restricting it to cover reflexive
and reciprocal pronouns. Whereas pronominals (personal pronouns, possessive
pronouns) cannot be found in the same NP or in the same clause with their
antecedent, anaphors have their antecedent in the same NP or minimal clause.

Binding Theory involves reflexive constructions, positing that reflexive pronouns
corefer with their NP-antecedents which must be found within the same minimal
clause as the reflexive.

(27) Doris blamed herself for missing the exam.
Doris thought that Jim would blame her/*herself for missing the exam.
Jim told Doris that he blamed her/*herself for missing the exam.
Doris thought of herself as guilty for missing the exam.

In a sentence like: They would often call them the pronoun them cannot be
understood as referring to the same class of individuals as the subject they.

In binding terms, we can say that anaphors must be bound by antecedents
whereas pronominals must be free of their antecedents within their governing-
category (Chomsky) or local domain (Jacobs, 1995: 122).

Activity. Discuss the coreference relations in the following sentences:
1. Your parents teach you good things.
2. Your parents teach them good things.
3. Your parents teach yourself good things.
4. Your parents teach themselves good things.
5. Your parents want you to teach yourself good things.
6. Your parents want you to teach themselves good things.

The Syntactic Functions of Noun Phrases and NP Substitutes

Consider the following examples:
(28) (a) Money is useful.
(b) Both families have met.
(c) A strange noise was coming from the window.
Simple or complex NPs may function as the subject of a sentence. Notice that the
subject is assigned to the whole noun-phrase (which includes possible specifiers
and adjuncts), not only to the head-noun.

(29) (a) Nobody came late.
(b) Others think you are wrong.
(c) You can take either orange.
The examples above remind us of the process entitled NP-Proform Substitution
according to which a NP constituent can be replaced by a pronoun (see the
Constituency tests). Another consequence of this principle is that in tree
diagrams pronouns are represented under the NP-node.
The following examples illustrate the Generic Subject expressed by pronouns
which do not make reference to a certain individual but to a person in general:
(30) (a) You are nervous when you teach for the first time.
(b) One should think more and speak less.
(c) They say there will be a long autumn.

Generic Subjects may also be considered those NPs whose referents are sets or
classes of individuals due to the classifying function of the determiners that
accompany the head-noun:
(31) (a) The wolf is a dangerous animal.
(b) A lion would eat a man when hungry.
(c) Man is mortal.

Expletive IT and THERE can function as Subjects. Expletive IT and THERE
(from Latin: explere=to fill) are meaningless words used to fill a syntactic
vacancy. They function as Dummy subjects (meaningless subjects).
(32) (a) It is raining heavily.
(b) There are few pupils in the classroom.
(c) It is true that his father is ill.
(d) Its no use arguing with her.
(e) It was Janet who first realized the difficulty of the situation.

On the one hand, expletive IT and THERE are inserted into the subject position
whenever the subject is moved from its usual location (further details are
included in the chapter on Transformations). Notice the examples (32) (b)-(e)
where the Deep-Subject NP, i.e. the logical subject of the sentence is introduced
by it or by there because it was moved after the verb. In such cases the Subject
can be expressed by a NP (32b), a THAT-Nominal Clause (32c), a gerundial
construction (32d) or it can occur in Cleft sentences (32e). These examples also
illustrate the cataphoric function of the pronoun IT to introduce and anticipate
items of information that come later in the utterance. That is why some linguists
still name it Introductory IT making the difference between Anticipatory IT and
Emphatic IT (as in (32e)).

Example (32a) is an instance of Impersonal Subject used with verbs expressing
natural phenomena, time, distance, temperature:
(33) (a) It is summer.
(b) Its been a few years since we last went to the cinema.
(c) It is 2 kilometers to the next petrol station.

Subject Complement
The NP being assigned the role of Subject Complement or Predicative provides
information about the Subject-entity. As shown in the examples below, the
Predicative is part of a copulative predication. The Predicative is the complement
of a copula verb, such as: be, become, seem, pass and so on.
(34) (a) He is a man of honour.
(b) They seem friends.

The role of Object is assigned to a complement of the verb. The NP can have the
syntactic function of Direct Object or Indirect Object.
Direct Objects (DO/Od) always occur with transitive verbs:
(35) (a) The typist has just finished the report.

Barry J. Blake (1994: 134) considers that:
The direct object has both semantic and discourse-pragmatic properties:
(a) Its core function is to express the role of patient in a two-place
(b) Where a non-patient is expressed as direct object the activity is
presented from the point of view of its effect on the direct object.
(c) The direct object holds a position on the givenness hierarchy
intermediate between the subject and the peripheral relations.

A semantic approach to Direct Objects (Domnica Serban, 1982:270)
Affected object if the entity denoted by the DO is affected by the
process expressed by the verb:
(36) (a) The wind has broken the window.
(b) Mother has sliced the bread carefully.
(c) He slapped her.
(d) Grandmother chopped the onion.
(e) She tore up all the letters.

Effected object if the entity denoted by the DO represents the
result or the goal of the action:
(37) (a) They have built new houses.
(b) Sonia wrote a long letter yesterday.
(c) We issue a monthly newsletter.
(d) Our team carved a beautiful statue.
(e) I knitted this sweater myself.

Cognate object if the entity denoted by the DO represents the
obvious result of an action expressed by an accomplishment verb:
(38) (a) The children will sing a song now.
(b) They have fought the fight of their life.
(c) Mary would always dream the same dream.
(d) He could smell a terrible smell.
(e) She smiled a wry smile.

Direct Objects are accompanied by Indirect Objects after ditransitive verbs in
Dative constructions:
(39) (a) The girl told a secret to her mother.
(b) The hostess has brought her guests some drinks.
(c) The postman left a parcel for my son.

Understood as the transfer of an entity from its owner to a different possessor, the
Dative Construction requires an Agent in the Subject position, a ditransitive verb,
a Direct Object to encode the affected/transferred entity and an Indirect Object to
encode the final destination or the individual who benefits from the transfer.
As shown in the examples above, the Indirect Object is preceded by preposition
to/for when it is placed after the Direct Object. If the Indirect Object directly
follows the main verb, thereby exchanging places with the direct object, the
prepositions are deleted unless the verb requires an obligatory dative preposition.
In such cases, the Direct Object is expressed by a longer NP or even a clause:

(40) (a) The shop assistant showed us two pairs.
(b) The traveler said to his friend that he was tired.
(c) The teacher explained to her students how to analyse
the sentence.

The prepositional Indirect Object can also follow intransitive verbs in complex
intransitive predications (see further details in Chapter 4):

(41) (a) The musician bowed low to the audience.
(b) He apologized to his parents.
(c) A great idea occurred to her one day.

Object Complement
The NP functioning as Object Complement (OC/Co) must be governed by a
transitive verb, so the Direct Object NP and the Object Complement NP are sister

(42) (a) The committee elected Ben Waltz president.
(b) They made her Queen.
(c) Her parents considered Cambridge the best option.

Ad]ectival Phrase

Adjectival Phrases as Noun Modifiers

As mentioned in the previous subchapter, the Adjectival Phrase (AP) is mainly
included within a Noun Phrase under the N (N-bar) node (as in 43 below).
Roberts (1968:226) mentions the following derivational rule that leads to APs as
modifiers of head nouns:

T-noun modifier
When the deletion transformation leaves a single-word ing verb or
participle as the modifier of a noun phrase, the word is shifted to a position
between the determiner and the head noun:
Det + N + modifier Det + modifier + N

(43) the new technology
Det N

the new technology
Starting from initial sentences based on copulative predications (NP + be + AP)
we can apply deletion of the verb and then T-noun modifier to derive
grammatical NPs with APs as modifiers:

(44) (a) The review is remarkable. deletion the review remarkable T-
noun modifier the remarkable review
(b) The trip was short. deletion the trip short T-noun modifier the
short trip

In order to derive APs having as head an adjective formed from a present
participle, we need initial sentences based on intransitive predications with verbs
in the progressive aspect:
(45) His nose is bleeding. T-relative his nose that is bleeding T-
relative, deletion his nose bleeding T-noun modifier his bleeding nose

In order to derive APs having as head an adjective formed from a past participle,
we need initial sentences based on transitive predications with verbs in the
simple aspect:
(46) Someone sold an item. T-passive An item was sold. deletion an
item sold T-noun modifier a sold item

There are adjectival phrases that post-modify a head noun:
(47) (a) the doctors concerned
(b) the house ablaze
(c) cheeks aflame

Det N
the doctors concerned

Adjectival Phrases as Verb Complements

Within the Verb Phrase the Adjectival Phrase can function as the Predicative in a
copulative predication:
(48) (a) The car is broken.
(b) The ball is dirty.
The Adjectival Phrase can also function as Object Complement following the
Direct Object of a transitive verb:
(49) (a) They thought Ann asleep.
(b) Father painted the car black

Prepositional Phrase

Prepositional Phrase as Noun Complements or Noun Adjuncts
The Prepositional Phrase can modify a noun as shown in a previous subchapter.
As a noun modifier the PP can take the form of the Analytical Genitive (the of-
Genitive, as in (50)), or of a shortened Relative Clause (as in (51)):

(50) the bank of the river
Det N
Det N
the bank of the river

In (50) the Determiner is in Specifier position, while the PP of the river is the
complement in the NP. In (51) the Determiner is in Specifier position, the noun
head fish is followed by the PP from the river which is only a Modifier of the
head-noun. Notice in the diagram that modifiers are sisters of the N, whereas
complements are sisters of the head noun, i.e. N.
(51) the fish from the river
Det N
Det N
the fish from the river

Lszl Budai (1999: 340) identifies a few of the possible structures involving
Prepositional Phrases as Noun modifiers, namely:
NP + for + NP (indicating purpose): shelter for the poor, provision
for bleak days
NP + with + NP (possession): the boy with blue eyes, the lady with
a pink purse, a student with low self-esteem
NP + without + NP (lacking): a man without a woman, a king
without heirs
NP + in + NP (with nouns denoting articles of clothing): those
children in uniforms, those people in mourning clothes, a party in

Activity. Find similar structures of nouns postmodified by prepositional phrases.

Prepositional Phrases as Adjective Complements

There are adjectives that require certain Prepositional Phrases in order to
complete their meaning. For instance in: fond of literature, interested in
engineering, good at languages the underlined PPs are Complements of the head
adjectives in the Adjectival Phrase.
(52) fond of literature
fond N
of N

Prepositional Phrases as Verb Complements or Verb Adjuncts

Within the Verb Phrase the Prepositional Phrase can function as Subject
Complement/ Predicative in a copulative predication when the PP follows a
copula verb:
(53) (a) She is in low spirits.
(b) All goods seem of high quality.

Following an intransitive verb the Prepositional Phrase can function as Adverbial
(54) (a) Mary is singing in a low voice.
Adverbial of Manner
(b) The plane landed on time.
Adv. of Time

(c) He works in a great company.
Adv. of Place
(d) She peeped inside out of curiosity.
Adv. of Cause/Reason
(e) They were playing computer games for fun.
Adv. of Purpose

The Prepositional Phrase is commonly used as Prepositional Object:
(55) (a) They had to come to school with their family.
Sociative Prepositional Object
(b) The novel was not written by a famous writer.
PO of Agent
(c) The burglars broke into the house with a hammer.
PO of Instrument
With intransitive or ditransitive verbs, the Prepositional Phrase can function as
Prepositional Indirect Object:
(56) (a) Everybody was listening to the headmaster.
(b) Grandma knitted a T-shirt for the dog.

Adverb Phrase

Adverb Phrases as Noun Adjuncts
Adverbs can either premodify or postmodify a noun.
(57) (a) the above sentence/ the sentence above
(b) an inside pocket/ the inside story of their marriage
(c) the floor below
(d) the room upstairs/downstairs
(e) the kindergarten nearby/ a nearby town

As all of them are locative Adverb Phrases that describe the position of the entity
denoted by the head noun, we say that they function as modifiers or adjuncts of
the head noun and not as complements.

Activity. Make up Noun Phrases using the following adverbs as modifiers of the
head noun:
outside, ahead, back, before, underneath. Check your choice of using them as
pre- or post- modifiers with a dictionary.

Adverb Phrases as Verb Adjuncts

Adverb Phrases can accompany any type of predication due to their optional
nature functioning as different Adverbial Modifiers.
Adverbials of Place denote the location or the direction of the event expressed by
the verb:
(58) (a) We are waiting for her here.
(b) Mark slipped the letter inside.
(c) The car was driving slowly as the dog was running behind.
(d) Try to walk backwards now!
(e) Look westwards to see the sunset!

Adverbials of Time provide details about the precise moment when the event
takes place:
(59) (a) Tomorrow we are going to the cinema.
(b) Lets see a good movie tonight!
(c) See you soon!
(d) The teacher will be here presently/ shortly.

Adverbials of Frequency emphasize the regularity with which the action is

(60) (a) He would often skip classes
(b) Temperatures are usually higher this time of year.
(c) People seldom have fun with their children
(d) Photocopy this document twice, please!

Adverbials of Manner focus on the rhythm of the action expressed by the verb,
the way in which the action is performed:
(61) (a) Margaret reads English fluently.
(b) Children were playing noisily in the park.
(c) The hunchback got quickly out of sight.
(d) Speak louder, please!

Adverb Phrases as Adjuncts, Disjuncts, Conjuncts

Beside the above mentioned types of Adverb Phrases functioning as Adverbial
Modifiers of the verb, there are adverbs or Adverbial Phrases that comment on
the whole sentence, expressing an evaluation of what is said emphasizing the
speakers opinion. Such Adverbial Phrases as: frankly, briefly, apparently,
probably, certainly, funnily enough, paradoxically, hopefully are said to function
as disjuncts.

(62) (a) Frankly, she isnt tired.
(b)They are probably at home.
(c) Briefly, there is nothing more I can do about it.

There are other Adverb Phrases having a connective function at the level of the
paragraph that help the writer make the text cohesive. Such Adverb Phrases as:
firstly, however, moreover, thus, hence, overall, then, anyway are said to function
as conjuncts.

(63) (a) It was chilly in the morning. The sea, however, was
nice and warm.
(b) In spite of our warning them, they will climb that
mountain anyway.
(c) Overall, its been a great party!

Unlike Adverbial Phrases functioning as adjuncts, disjuncts and conjuncts are not
integrated within the clause. They can appear initially in a declarative clause but
they cannot be contrasted with another adverbial in alternative interrogation or

Activity. Make up sentences of your own using the following Prepositional
Phrases and state whether they function as adjuncts, disjuncts or conjuncts: on
the contrary, on the other hand, in retrospect, as a rule, on balance, in some
respects, in the main, to all intents and purposes.

Adverbial Intensifiers

Adverbial Intensifiers are those Adverb or Adverbial Phrases that modify
adjectives/APs or other adverbs/AdvPs emphasizing the degree of the quality
denoted by the adjective or the adverb they modify. Here are a few examples:

(64) (a) very interesting
(b) quite understandable
(c) totally wrong
(d) rather unconsciously

Syntactically, at the level of an Adjectival Phrase such as extremely disappointed,
the Intensifier is placed in specifier position in the tree diagram as shown below:

(65) extremely disappointed
Deg A
extremely disappointed

Such an AP can easily be inserted within a NP, adjoined to N to modify the head
noun: an extremely disappointed clerk.

Verb Phrase

The Verb Phrase must be understood as the verb plus its complements and
adjuncts that follow the main verb in a sentence.
(66) [S[NP Her great voice] [VP made Mary famous in the whole

The Verb Group
From Structuralism to Minimalism linguists have adopted different approaches to
the Verb Phrase and the way it should be represented in Phrase Markers.
Thomas (1993), Burton-Roberts (1997), Tallerman (1998) and others maintain a
comfortable perspective referring to the structure of Verb Phrases in the
following terms:
(67) VP: Vgroup + (NP)/(PP)/(AdvP)
Vgroup: AUX + V

Consider the following example:
(68) Sarah answered the phone.
N Vgp NP


Sarah (past)answered the phone
The order of the Auxiliaries within the Verb Group must be: Modal/Tense
Perfective Aspect Progressive Aspect Passive followed by the lexical verb.
According to the X-Theory, the Verb Phrase is headed by V which selects
certain complements. Other optional phrases (i.e. adjuncts/modifiers) may also
accompany the VP.
(69) He noticed the mistake.

Det N
noticed the mistake

We have represented only the VP within the sentence (69) He noticed the
mistake. The diagram shows a VP headed by noticed with one NP complement.
Remember: Specifiers and Complements are only functional not categorial terms.

Radford (1988: 232) emphasizes the need to distinguish between obligatory
Complements and optional Adjuncts when representing them in Phrase Markers
as well. He proves that within the X-bar framework Complements are sisters of
the head verb, while Adjuncts are sisters and daughters of V-bar. Lets make this
distinction referring to the following example:
(70) They tell her in the morning.
They V
V NP in the morning
tell her

The VP is headed by tell which selects the NP her as its sister complement,
accompanied by the PP in the morning as adjunct, sister of V and daughter of
But are Auxiliaries Specifiers of VP or possible heads of VPs? The approach to
sentence as an Inflection Phrase has offered a possible solution to this issue
discussed in the following subchapter.

Van Valin and Lapolla (1997: 26) present the structure of the clause in universal
terms from a syntactico-semantic perspective suitable to account for the clause
structure in any language. They discuss the contrast between verb complements
and verb adjuncts in terms of the core of the clause (the predicate + its
arguments) and its periphery (non-arguments of the predicate). The predicate is
the nucleus of the clause. These distinctions constitute what they call the layered
structure of the clause (LSC).

As previous subchapters on types of phrases have also specified possible
complements and adjuncts of the Verb Phrase, we will move on to introduce the
clause as an Inflection Phrase according to the Government and Binding Model.

nflection - a prototypical functional category

Learners of English become acquainted with the concept of Inflection when they
start the study of English Morphology. Derivational Morphology teaches them
word-formation by means of derivational affixes, such as prefixes, infixes,
suffixes, whereas Inflectional Morphology introduces them to a new category of
affixes that carry grammatical information. These inflectional affixes form a
closed set and they represent concrete realizations (or formatives) of
grammatical categories such as Tense, Aspect, Agreement, Case, Comparison
and so on.

Here is a synthetic presentation of the categories and the formatives that realize
them as resulted from the study of Inflectional Morphology:

(71) Tense: -s/-es, -ed
Aspect: -ing
Agreement: -s/-es
Case: s
Comparison: -er, -est

Studies in English syntax have introduced Inflection (INFL or I) as another name
for the category of Auxiliary to indicate whether a Clause is finite or non-finite
(in infinitival Clauses the Inflection position may be filled by the particle to).

More recent approaches to syntax have decided to use the term Inflection as a
general label which covers both Auxiliary and the system of inflections that mark
all the other grammatical categories specified above. Notice that we have
mentioned the category of Auxiliary and not the class of Auxiliary verbs, as
linguists have brought evidence in favour of the idea that auxiliary verbs
(aspectual auxiliaries BE and HAVE) are also functional categories.
Two such pieces of evidence are provided by Cornilescu in Concepts of Modern
Grammar (1996: 195), as follows:

BE and HAVE select certain VP complements (BE + Present
Participle; HAVE + Past Participle)
BE and HAVE cannot relate to arguments (they cannot assign
thematic roles) except through the VP complement they select.

These features prove that the English aspectual auxiliaries BE and HAVE behave
like the Inflection, so they cannot be constituents of Inflection, but only different
functional categories.

Taking everything into account, a finite Inflection constituent is said to be an
Auxiliary, overtly or covertly inflected for both Tense and Agreement (a Modal
Auxiliary is optionally present), thereby becoming the head which selects the VP
as the obligatory complement. For further details, see also Radford (1988: 305-

The Government and Binding Model replaces the concept of sentence as a result
of the headedness principle (i.e. all phrases are headed). The sentence comes to
be described as an endocentric inflection phrase (IP) having as head the
functional category of Inflection (I). Due to various instances of agreement or
substitution that mark the relation between the subject of a sentence and
Inflection, the subject is said to be the Specifier of Inflection.

Hence the representations (like (59)) based on the traditional Phrase Structure
Rules (PSRs) such as S NP ^ VP; NP (Det) ^ N and so on are now
replaced by representations (like (74)) that take into account new PSRs, namely:
(72) IP NP ^ I
I I ^ VP

(73) traditional phrase marker

N Vgp NP


John (present) wants an apple

(74) GB phrase marker
IP maximal projection (I)


N I VP (V)


John T Agr V NP

-s [+sg] wants DET N

an N


Trying to develop a theory of Universal Grammar that would identify general
structural principles in organizing phrases and sentences, linguists have focused
upon the binary branching bringing evidence from the phonological structure and
the morphological structure of natural languages. For instance, the lexeme
unjustifiable is structured starting from its root just to which the derivational
morpheme ify is attached deriving the verb justify; then another binary
branching is formed by the lexeme justify to which the suffix able is attached
deriving the adjective justifiable which in its turn is prefixed by un.

Binary branching has to be preserved also in the case of an infinitival phrase like
to leave. Consider the following examples:
(75) a. I expect [Alice must be sleeping].
b. I expect [Alice will be sleeping].
c. I expect [Alice to be sleeping].
d. I expect [Alice to have slept].

The first two Complement Clauses between square brackets have a present tense
interpretation due to the present-tense features acquired when moving into the
Inflection node. In (c) the Complement Clause has a present tense value as well,
while the bracketed Infinitival Complement Clause in (d) clearly refers to a past
event. We can paraphrase (c) and (d) as below:

(76) a. I expect Alice is sleeping.
b. I expect Alice has slept.

The infinitival particle to carries non-finite Tense features, just as finite
auxiliaries carry finite Tense features, sharing the same function of the infinitive
inflections with French or Italian verbs such as: manger, ouvrir or piangere,
That is why in some grammars the sentence is considered a Tense Projection
(TP) resulted from the merging process of a T-bar constituent with a subject,
where the T-bar constituent is the intermediate projection of a tense auxiliary (T)
that merges with a verb phrase (VP).

(77) They are blaming him.
They T VP
are V PRO
blaming him

Constituency tests

In order to identify a constituent, one can make use of several tests. Here are
some of the options:

Pro-form Test. If a string can be replaced with a pro-form, such as a
pronoun, than the string is a constituent. For instance, in the following
(78) (a)The little boy crossed the street in a hurry.
(b) He crossed the street in a hurry. [the little boy is a constituent]
(c) The little boy did so in a hurry. [crossed the street is a
(d) The little boy crossed it in a hurry. [the street is a constituent]
(e) The little boy crossed the street like that. [in a hurry is a

Question Test. If a string can become an answer to a Wh-question, than
the string is a constituent.

(79) (a) How did the boy cross the street?
(b) In a hurry.

Movement Test. If one can change the position of the string within the
same sentence, than the string is very likely to be a constituent.
(80) (a) The strike began on Monday.
(b) On Monday, the strike began. [on Monday is a constituent]

Coordination Test. If one can coordinate two strings than both strings are
(81) (a) The manager was speaking on the phone and to his
secretary at the same time.
(b) The postman was riding and delivering the mail to each house.

Cleft Test. The string that a cleft sentence focuses upon is always a

(82) (a) The plane was delayed by thick fog.
(b) It was the thick fog that delayed the plane.

Activity. Identify the constituents of the following pairs of sentences:
1a. The baby is sleeping.
1b. The baby is asleep.
2a. She considered him a genius.
2b. He was considered a genius.
3a. They found the show entertaining.
3b. They found Mary an entertaining partner.



3 Case Grammar and Argument 8tructure

8yntactic Form. Grammatical Functions. 8emantic

Sentences can be analysed using phrase structure rules that allow us to represent
constituents in terms of lexical and phrasal syntactic categories, namely nouns,
verbs, adjectives, adverbs, NPs, VPs, APs, AdvPs.
Another dimension of the sentence analysis is focused upon when using the
notion of syntactic functions: Subject, Predicate, Object, Adverbial.

(1) The children broke the window with a ball.
[S[NP the children][VP broke [NP the window][PP with a ball]]]
[S[Sbj the children][Pred broke [DO the window][PO with a ball]]]
We can also represent a sentence in terms of semantic roles/thematic
roles/theta roles. A thematic role denotes the underlying relationship between
the participants in the event expressed by the main verb.

(2) The children broke the window with a ball.
Agent Patient Instrument
The window was broken by the children with a ball.
Patient Agent Instrument

In the above examples one can notice how in spite of the change in syntactic
functions that took place once the sentence is turned into the Passive voice, the
thematic roles assigned to each constituent remain the same. Thus, the children
which is the Active Subject turns into a Prepositional Object in the passive
sentence, but it is still the Agent who perform the action. As the window changes
from an Active Direct Object into a passive Subject, it still keeps the thematic
role of Patient, suffering the action initiated by the Agent.

Although we cannot make generalizations, the properties of thematic roles do
interact in regular ways with certain grammatical constructions. Chomsky (1965)
argues that although the Verb directly assigns theta-roles to its Internal
Arguments (i.e. its Complements), it is not the Verb but the whole Verb Phrase
that assigns a theta-role to its External Argument (i.e. the Subject).
Below there are several examples of argument-taking predicates:

(3) Janet is crying.
The detective loaded his gun.
The nurse brought the patient the medicine.
That ride cost Mark his life.
The NPs functioning as Subjects in the above sentences Clark, the detective, the
nurse, that ride are the external arguments of the predicate, while the NPs that
immediately follow the verb making up the VP his gun, the patient, the medicine,
Mark, his life are the internal arguments of the verb. Each argument carries one
thematic role. However, grammatical functions are syntactic notions, whereas
thematic roles are semantic notions.

Bas Aarts (2008: 94) draws on the idea that an element in a sentence that does
not refer to a participant is not an argument. Among the expressions having
non-participant status, he identifies the impersonal it and existential there, as well
as all phrases or clauses that function as Adjuncts (i.e. for instance, time or
manner adverbials).

Each predicate displays a certain argument structure as it is shown below:

(4) cry

(5) load
[1<NP>, 2<NP>]

(6) brought
[1<NP>, 2<NP>, 3<NP>]

(7) cost
[1<NP>, 2<NP>, 3<NP>]

The argument structure identifies the arguments that the predicate takes and their
categorial status. The figures 13 show the position of each argument in the
order they appear in the sentence. The underlined argument represents the
external argument, namely those NPs functioning as the Subject of the clause.

Activity. Provide clear examples to support the truthfulness or falsity of the
following statements:
1. Each argument realises a grammatical function, but not all grammatical
functions are linked to argument positions.
2. Adjuncts are never arguments.
3. Arguments are the verbs complements.
4. External arguments help us to identify the type of verbs (transitive,
intransitive, ditransitive)

Here is an inventory of the most cited thematic roles taken over from Fillmores
theory on Case (The Case for Case, 1968):
Agent: the initiator of the action acting with volition, thus
performing a deliberate act for which he may be held responsible
(8) The robber shot the clerk.
The little boy stumbled.

In certain instances, the Agent does not really intend to perform the act. We can
notice the difference between the two examples above and we can test the
presence of volition or willingness by adding adverbials of manner such as:
deliberately, willingly, intentionally:
(9) The robber deliberately shot the clerk.
*The little boy willingly stumbled.

Experiencer: the entity subjected to an action, being aware of the
process or state taking place, but not in control of it.
(10) David is afraid of dogs.
A few passers-by saw the accident.
I cant abide liars.
Children often disagree with their parents ideas.

Patient: the entity that suffers a change of state when the action is
(11) She sliced the bread carefully.
A car ran over their dog yesterday.
The bee stung the farmer on his arm.
The gardener mowed the grass.
David has got bitten by an angry dog.

Blake (1994: 68) argues that the role Patient covers all of the following situations
(for which we provide further examples below), thus including what other
linguists call Theme (b):
(a) an entity viewed as existing in a state or undergoing change
(12) This theory is clearly obsolete.
The bomb blew the tower up.
(b) an entity viewed as located or moving
(13) The baby is sleeping in the pram.
The competitors have dived into the water.

(c) an entity viewed as affected or effected by another entity
(14) The cat has scratched the front door.
The figure had been moulded in clay.

Benefactive: the entity for whose benefit the action is performed:
(15) They have been praising the winner for days on end.
The children laid the table for their parents.
The Zookeeper has set the animals free.

Theme: the entity that moves or whose location is specified. This
label derives from Grubers 1965 dissertation. However not all
linguists consider it satisfactory.
(16) You need this stamp on the envelope.
They have looked the word up in the dictionary.

Location: the place where something is situated or where an action
(17) Your friend is at the door.
Many people were lying on the beach when the storm began.
We have just found the city on the map; it is near Calgary.

Source: the starting point for a movement
(18) The message was first heard on radio.
The Moores have sent for the doctor.

Goal: the end point for a movement
(19) The books will be shipped to your country in 5 to 10 days.
He bribed his way out of prison.

Instrument: the means used to perform an act
(20) They have corrected their spelling with a dictionary.
Policemen have been traveling by train for more than 8 hours.

(21) Their criticism stung him.
He amazed everybody with his intelligence.

(22) The student has got a last warning.
The trainer always gets the blame for whatever goes wrong.

Starting from the assumption that a head may directly 0-mark only one sister NP,
Cornilescu (1996: 180) notices that only verbs and prepositions may occur with
sister NPs which they assign 0-roles directly, whereas As and Ns relate to NPs
only by means of prepositions, so they indirectly 0-mark the respective NPs.
Consider the following examples:
(23) [NP Your friends] [VP have missed [NP the train]].

Within the VP, the NP the train gets Accusative case marking, being assigned the
syntactic function of DO and the 0-role of Theme.

(24) This play is by Shakespeare.
The letter is from Italy.
The cat is under the table.

Due to their full meaning, the above prepositions directly assign the appropriate
thematic roles to the governed NPs. However, the role can be jointly assigned by
the verb and the preposition:
(25) The police will look into the matter.
She dived into the swimming-pool.

Unlike verbs, as stated above, As and Ns assign thematic roles indirectly, by
means of the prepositions that relate them to other NPs:

(26) the writing of a novel
the singing of a song
the building of a house

It is considered that the preposition of is inserted only at the level of S-structure,
as a means of 0-role assignment and case realization, as noticed in the behaviour
of nouns derived from transitive verbs: write a novel, sing a song, build a house.
All the other prepositions used by other verbs to mark their object are listed in
the lexicon and projected onto the D-structures:
(27) ask a question the asking of a question
answer a question the answer to a question
change sbs mind a change of mind
change sbs condition a change in condition
give a book - * the giving of a book
meet a friend - * the meeting of a friend
reach a place - * the reaching of a place vs arrival at a place
respect the authorities respect for authorities
revise a report the revision of/ to a report

All the above examples prove the defective nature of nouns as 0-markers.

Activity. Discuss and provide examples to support the relationship between
thematic roles and recurrent prepositions.

Grimshaw (1990) suggests that the theta-grid represents the prominence relations
among arguments. She adopts the following thematic hierarchy noticing that
syntactic relations are not established only according to this hierarchy of thematic
roles but also according to the aspectual properties (Vendlers: activities,
accomplishments, achievements, states) of the predicate.
(28) Thematic Hierarchy

She claims that arguments are 0-marked from the least prominent to the most
prominent, as the least prominent roles are the most dependent on the verb for
their interpretation.
Jackendoff (1990: 258) proposes another Thematic Hierarchy based on the
principle of ordering the 0-marked arguments from the least embedded to the
most deeply embedded, from left to right, as follows:
(29) 1. Actor
2. Patient or Beneficiary
3. Theme
4. Location, Source, Goal

Instrumental Prepositional Phrases are not included as they are always adjuncts.
The role of Agent is always related to Actor or to Patient.
In spite of linguists different views on thematic hierarchies, they all agree that
each argument of a predicate can be assigned a thematic role. By including the
thematic roles of the verbs arguments within the argument structures, we make
up the thematic structure of the predicate.
Here are a few examples based on the sentences ((4)-(7)) discussed in the
beginning of this chapter:

(30) cry
[1<NP, Experiencer>]

(31) load
[1<NP, Agent>, 2<NP, Patient>]

(32) brought
[1<NP, Agent/Source>, 2<NP, Benefactive/Goal>, 3<NP, Theme>]

(33) cost
[1<NP,Stimulus>, 2<NP,Patient/Experiencer>, 3<NP, Instrument>]

In this way thematic grids do not represent only sets of thematic roles, but they
also encode syntactic information about the coding of these roles.

Activity. Discuss the influence of the thematic hierarchy and of the aspectual
properties of verbs in assigning -roles in the following examples:
1a. Hes been writing a novel for 2 years.
1b. He wrote a novel last year.
2a. Hes been climbing the mountain for an hour.
2b. He reached the top.
3a. He swam to the buoy.
3b. He is swimming to the buoy.
4a. The plane has just landed in Atlanta.
4b. The plane has flown to Atlanta.
5a. They look up to their manager.
5b. The young lady looked down on the maid.
6a. Tears blurred her eyes.
6b. The writing blurred and danced before his eyes.


Drawing on the research in Construction Grammar whose main representatives
are Charles Fillmore (1968), Lakoff (1987), Filip (1993) and others, Adele
Goldberg in her book entitled Constructions. A Construction Grammar Approach
to Argument Structure (1995) proves that:

Argument structure constructions are a special subclass of constructions that provides
the basic means of clausal expression in a language. (1995: 3)

The lexicon and syntax are not considered separate units in this approach to
Grammar. As Goldberg (1995: 19) states:

() syntactic frames are directly associated with semantics, independently of the verbs
which may occur in them. [] To a large extent, verb meaning remains constant across
constructions; differences in the meaning of full expressions are in large part
attributable directly to the different constructions involved.

Here are the meaningful structures she identifies in her study:

Ditransitive Constructions

Goldberg argues that volitionality must be a universal feature characterizing the
subject argument of all ditransitive verbs as well as willingness must characterize
their first object argument. The few exceptions when no volitionality or
willingness is required must be associated with the conventional systematic
metaphor causal events as transfers in which case the subject is the CAUSE that
made possible the transfer of an EFFECT to an AFFECTED entity.

Compare the following examples:
(34) (a) They gave Martin a book.
S/Agent IO/Recipient DO/Theme
(b) Will you give us a hand?
S/Causer IO/aff. DO/eff.
(c) They gave her the cold shoulder.
S/Causer IO/aff. DO/eff.
(d) He gave the door a blow.
S/Causer IO/Patient DO/effect

The first example (a) is a non-metaphorical instance of a Dative construction
which can be interpreted as a successful change in the ownership of the book.
The subject NP they is the Agent and the Source of transfer, the Indirect Object
NP Martin represents the final destination, the Goal or the Recipient, i.e. the new
owner, while the Direct Object NP a book is the transferred entity, the Theme
that moves from the Source to the Recipient.

The next three examples (b)-(d) are metaphorical instances of the Dative
Construction. Although the meaning of the verb remains the same, the three
sentences have different meanings due to the construction as a whole: the Indirect
Object NPs are obviously affected by the action expressed by the verb, they
become Patients subjected to certain changes by a certain Causer.

Caused-Motion Constructions

Goldberg brings evidence in favour of the idea that there are complex transitive
constructions of the form (SVOObl) (where V is a nonstative verb; Obl is a
directional Preposition Phrase) which can be interpreted as X CAUSES Y TO
MOVE Z although the lexical items involved do not inherently encode this

Here are further examples we have found suitable to account for her theory:
(35) (a) The audience clapped the speaker out of the conference hall.
S/Cause DO/Theme OC/ Path
(b) The animals scared the thieves out of the house.
S/Cause DO/Theme OC/ Path
(c) He smuggled a gun into the prison.
S/Cause DO/Theme OC/Path

Compare also:
(36) (a) She piled old articles of furniture onto the balcony.
(b) She piled the balcony with old articles of furniture.

In the first sentence, the Direct Object NP old articles of furniture is assigned the
thematic role of Theme as the entity denoted by the NP changes its location
being moved to the balcony. Thus the Adverbial of Place onto the balcony is
assigned the role of Path. In the second example, the NP the balcony is a Direct
Object totally affected by the action performed, thus the NP carries the theta-role
Patient, while the Prepositional Phrase with old articles of furniture is only the
Instrument that helps the Agent fulfill the action.
Related interpretations of such constructions:
X talks Y to move Z with transitive verbs that basically involve a
communicative act, such as: order, ask, urge, invite, send
(37) (a) The judge sent him to jail.
(b) The emperor ordered his daughter out of his empire.

X enables Y to move Z with verbs that encode the removal of a
barrier, such as: let, free, release, allow
(38) (a) The child released the bird out of the cage.
(b) These exercises help free the body of tension.

X prevents Y from moving Z with verbs whose meaning is to
block any tendency of motion or change of location: lock, keep,
(39) (a) The robbers locked the hostages in the bank.
(b) Last night police seized a large quantity of piracy devices from a flat
in New York.

X helps Y to move Z with verbs that involve the Agents
willingness to see the motion through: help, assist, guide, show,
(40) (a) The hostess walked her guests to the gate.
(b) The lady guided the blind man across the street.

Resultative Constructions

Generally considered under the form of transitive verbs followed by a Direct
Object and an Object Complement (OC/Co), resultative constructions involve a
change in state of a Patient as a result of the action expressed by the verb. There
are three subtypes depending on the form taken by the Object Complement:
the Object Complement as an Adjectival Phrase where the adjective must
denote the end point of a scale:
(41) (a) The prince set her free.
(b) The cook boiled the eggs hard.
(c) The cat licked the plate clean.

the Object Complement as a Noun Phrase:
(42) (a) They elected him President.
(b)The members of the committee would call themselves brothers.

the Object Complement as a non-finite clause or a Prepositional Phrase:
(43) (a)The baby swung himself to sleep.
(b)The clown got the ball out of the blue.

The Way Construction

The semantics of the Way Construction implies an Agent who directs his motion
along a difficult Path by certain means used to remove the encountered obstacles.
Syntactically, it is structured as illustrated by the following example:
(44) The ambulance hooted its way out of the traffic jam.

The NP the ambulance functions as Subject, the verb hooted behaves like a
transitive verb here being followed by the NP its way functioning as Direct
Object. As regards the Prepositional Phrase out of the traffic jam we cannot state
yet whether it is a complement of the verb or a modifier of the NP way.

It is argued that the Prepositional phrase is a sister of the verb, rather than a
modifier of the NP way as an adverb may be introduced between the two
complements. The example belongs to Jackendoff (1990a: 212):

(45) Bill belched his way noisily out of the restaurant.

By assigning a manner interpretation instead of a means interpretation to the
events expressed by the verb, the thematic roles change as follows:
(46) He seemed to be whistling his way along. (OUP, 1995:209)
Theme Path

He was whistling his way to the park.
Theme Path Goal

He was whistling his way to the park obviously means here: He was walking and
whistling at the same time.

Metaphorical Way Constructions involve careful, deliberate construction of a
Path towards the achievement/ attainment of a Goal, by breaking written or
unwritten laws. Verbs such as: bribe, bluff, wheedle, talk, trick, con, nose, sneak,
weasel, cajole, etc. help us analyse such constructions.

(47) (a) Connie tricked her way past the security guards into the club.
S/Theme DO/Path Adv.of place/Path Adv.of place/Goal

(b) He conned his way into the job using false diplomas.
S/Theme DO/Path Adv.of place/Goal Adv.of manner/Instrument

Similar examples might include:
(48) I have been sleeping my flight to New York.
Mark has been reading his journey to the mountains.
My father would always hum his drive to work.

Goldbergs work represents an interesting approach to argument structure
proving once more the intertwining of Syntax with Semantics and Pragmatics.

The mpact of 0-Theory on Government and Movement

In 1986, Chomsky introduces 0-government as a configuration of proper
government, defining it as follows:
(49) -government
u 0-governs , iff u is a head, u 0-marks , and u is a sister to .

Informally, the relationship develops between a head and its complement to
which it assigns a thematic role. Moreover, for u to be a sister to requires that
is the first projection of the head.
Thus in a phrase like read the newspaper in the morning the verb-head (V) 0-
governs only its Direct Object NP the newspaper which is its sister
complement and it does not 0-govern the Prepositional Phrase in the morning
although it governs it, as the V c-commands the PP:
(50) VP




read the newspaper in the morning

That is why when u 0-governs we can say that properly governs .

Chomsky furthermore argues that if u is a lexical constituent and not a
grammatical formative or inflection, it means that the head L-marks its sister

(51) L-marking
u L-marks , iff u is lexical and 0-governs .

The principle is helpful in that on the one hand, it identifies the argument of the
predicate which will be assigned a thematic role; on the other hand, the principle
helped Chomsky refine the definition of the notion of barrier as a maximal
projection which is not L-marked.

This also explains ungrammatical questions such as:
(52) We wont eat [before washing our hands].
*[iWhat] wont we eat [before washing ti]?

On the basis of such evidence, we find at Cornilescu (1996: 185) the Condition
on Extraction Domains:

(53) A phrase A may be extracted out of a domain B only if B is properly

Although the NP our hands is a Direct Object, it is not a properly governed
argument of the verb-head eat as it belongs to the PP before washing our hands
which is neither 0-governed nor L-marked by the V. The PP node functions as a
barrier which blocks movement.




nside the Verb Group

As we have already mentioned in the first chapters, the order of Auxiliaries in the
Verb Group is as follows:
1. Tense / Modal + infinitive
2. Perfective: [have + -en]
3. Progressive: [be + -ing]
4. Passive: [be + -en]

Here are a few examples:
(2) He has been dating her for two weeks.
has been dating: [+ present] [+ PERF] [+ PROG] + date
(3) She has been promoted.
has been promoted: [+ present] [+ PERF] [+ PASS] + promote
(4) Bridges are being repaired.
are being repaired: [+ present] [+ PROG] [+ PASS] + repair

Activity. Analyse the structure of the Verb group in the following sentences:
a. She is wasting her time.
b. Tim has broken the window.
c. Mary will have graduated by 2012.
d. The mistakes must have been identified very quickly.
e. It might be snowing in Italy.

Hans Reichenbachs (1947) tense theory is based upon three basic entities:
speech time (ST), reference time (RT) and event time (ET). Speech time is
always now. At the moment of utterance (ST) the speaker realizes, recalls or
predicts an event. The time at which the event occurred (ET) can be simultaneous
(ov.=overlap) or it may precede (bf.=before) or follow (af.=after) the time of
reference (RT) marked on the axis of orientation (present, past, future).

The diagram below represents our informal perspective on the English tenses
of the Indicative as they can be represented on the axes of orientation. Remember
that all Tenses are both Simple and Progressive.

Activity. Remember all tenses of the Indicative Mood in English grammar.
Provide examples to illustrate some of their values. Draw the tree diagram of
one representative example for each tense.

Here are several examples of abstract temporal interpretations of the tense
forms in English. Notice how the different values assigned to each tense, on the
one hand, and the aspectual variations, on the other, may or may not lead to
changes in the relationship between ST, RT and ET.
a.Twelve divided by four is three.
ST ov RT ov ET = present
b.The birds are singing in the tree.

Even though the temporal representation is the same the two sentences differ
in terms of structural realization: 5a uses Present Simple to express general,
scientific truths, whereas 5b uses Present Continuous to express a momentary
action in progress.
a. David is buying a car next week.
RT af ST
RT ov ET = future
b. The train leaves at 10 a.m.

The above examples are two instances of Present Tense used with future
reference, however, whereas the Present Simple points to future actions as part of
a scheduled programme, the Present Progressive expresses future events in the
speakers personal plan.
a. Jack has already moved in.
RT ov ST = present
ET bf RT, already
b. Jack moved in yesterday.
RT bf ST
ET ov RT = past, yesterday

Notice how the Present Perfect Simple accounts for a recently fulfilled event,
while the Past Simple denotes an action finished in a definite past moment.
a. The soldier lived in Germany for 2 months (during the war).
RT bf ST
ET ov RT = past
b. The soldier has lived in Germany for 2 months.
RT ov ST = present
ET bf RT

Besides the difference noticed in the RT (past in 8a vs present in 8b), the two
verb structures include the time adverbial for 2 months which helps us make the
distinction between an open (until present) and a closed (past) period of time.
More precisely, the Present Perfect will always express an event that lasts up to
the moment of speech (ST=now).


Speakers of English can perceive, experience or express an event as complete or
in progress, anterior or posterior, iterative, dynamic or static. The English verb
has two aspects that help us describe the temporal shades of an event:
the Perfective aspect: [have + Past participle]
the Progressive aspect: [be + Present Participle]

However, when dealing with predication we must take into account the semantic
features relevant for aspectual distinctions summarized in the table below:

Table. Aspectual features and types of predications

The actions are perfected
almost at the same time they
are performed

Limited duration

Unlimited duration
[+Sg.]: The boy slammed the
door shut!
[-Sg.]: The dwarf sneezed
several times.
[+Sg.]: She is writing a letter.
[-Sg.]: They went to Paris twice.

They hate each other.
He has arrived.

He has lived here all
his life.
He has been sleeping
for an hour.
We know English.
[- GOAL]
He dipped his pen into the

[+ GOAL]
He was playing a
Beethoven sonata
when we entered.

[+ HOM]
[- GOAL]
They were writing
invitations when we

[- GOAL]
Tom has loved her
since childhood.


Tom loves her very

He kicks and slams the door
recategorized .

He is kicking the ball.

Watch out, you are hurting me!

My head hurts!

In 1976, Coseriu develops the concept of phase verbs as a means to express the
transition from one state into another, some change in the state of affairs. Thus he
distinguishes the following phases of an event: imminent/ ingressive, inceptive,
progressive, continuative, regressive, conclusive and egressive.
In English such aspectual distinctions can be either grammaticalized whenever a
verb is used in a certain Tense or lexicalized whenever certain verbs exhibit such
values in their inherent meaning. For example, Continuous Tenses express the
Imperfective Aspect of events, while in order to express the beginning of an
event we can use ingressive verbs such as begin or start. To emphasize the
duration of the event we can use durative or continuative verbs, such as resume
or continue. In order to focus on the end of the event, to express the conclusive
aspect, we can use egressive verbs such as stop or finish.
Many of these phase verbs behave like ergative verbs, making the transition from
their transitive form into an intransitive one without passivization:

(9) The driver stopped the car. / The car stopped.
She resumed her career after raising her child for 2 years. / The meeting
resumed as if nothing had happened.

Activity. Provide instances of grammaticalized or lexicalized expressions of
Coserius aspectual distinctions.

Modal Verbs

The above discussions illustrate the fact that the form of the main verb is
determined by the auxiliary that precedes it. This means that auxiliary verbs
subcategorize for VPs.
Consider the following two examples and their tree diagrams:
(10) John has bought a car.


Spec N I[+present] VP
[+ PERF]
_ N has V

John V NP

bought Spec N

a car
The perfective auxiliary subcategorises for a VP headed by a participle (bought a
car), just as in the following example the modal auxiliary subcategorises for a
VP headed by a verb in the bare infinitive form (can not have missed the train).

(11) Your cousin can not have missed the train.



Spec N I[+Tense, pres] VP
[+ Agr.]
Your N can Spec V

cousin not V VP

have V


missed Spec. N
the train

Remember that in semantics, the English modal system is divided into deontic
and epistemic. On the one hand, there are differences in meaning between the
two types, namely: the deontic modals communicate types of social information
such as permission, obligation, moral duty etc., while the epistemic modals
express different degrees of prediction (possibility, probability, certainty) as
regards the speakers knowledge about the world.

Activity. Identify the deontic and epistemic meanings of the modal verbs in the
following sentences:
a. He was angry and he would not go.
b. This experience must have taught him a lesson.
c. John may be walking in the park.

There are structural differences as well. Deontic modals take only [+ ANIMATE]
subjects, while epistemic modals allow both personal and impersonal subjects.
(12) You must drive carefully.
(13) It must be raining in London.

In the first example, the modal verb must has a deontic value expressing the
obligation of a [+ ANIMATE] subject to perform an action in a certain way. In
the second example, the modal verb must has an epistemic meaning, expressing
certainty as concerns an impersonal [- ANIMATE] subject, i.e. a natural
phenomenon which is taking place in London at the moment of speech.

Past time reference is realized by Past Tense forms or substitutes in the case of
deontic modals, while epistemic modals are followed by perfect infinitive forms
of the main verb in order to refer to past events.

(14) Alice would play the piano when she was young.
That would have been in 1878.

Unlike deontic modals, epistemic modals can express actions in progress. A
sentence like: He cant be learning at this hour. is grammatical only if we assign
an epistemic meaning of impossibility to the modal auxiliary cant and not the
deontic meaning of ability.

Activity. Illustrate the structural differences of CAN, MAY, MUST and WILL in
their deontic and epistemic meanings.

Passive Voice

Within the Generative Transformational Approach, Passivization is interpreted as
the result of several transformational rules, namely:

a. movement applied on the active Subject = Subject Postposing/Demotion
b. movement applied on the active Object to fill the empty Subject position =
Object Preposing/Promotion
c. insertion of aux. BE and attachment of en to V;
d. insertion of the agentive preposition by in front of the newly formed
e. optional deletion of the Object of Agent.

Activity. Discuss the derivation of the following sentences, providing arguments
to support your analysis:
1. That book was written by Chomsky.
2. This photo was taken in 2004.
3. The bridge has been repaired recently.
4. The injured will be treated by our best doctors.
5. The bear was shot by a hunter.

According to the Government and Binding Principles, movement can occur only
in empty slots and in positions that will preserve the tree structure. For example,
a head can move only to an empty head position; a wh-phrase can move to a
specifier or non-argument position. Nothing can be moved to a Complement
position, since Complement positions are subcategorized for and filled at Deep-
structure level.

GB Theory accounts for the Passive as an instance of A-movement or movement
to the Subject position, which is an Argument position. We introduce below a
model of representation for the Surface structure of a passive sentence under the
GB frame.
(16) The play was praised by all critics.



Spec N I[+past] VP

The N wasi Spec V

play V VP[+pass]

ti V

V[+pass] NP P

praised tk P NP

by Spec N

all N


Radford (2003: 134) notices the resemblance between passive predicates and
unaccusatives in that they allow expletive structures such as: There was found no
evidence of any corruption. He supports the claim that the passive Subject
initially originates as the complement of the main verb receiving the thematic
role the verb assigns it and then moves to the specifier position as the preverbal
Subject of the passive construction: No evidence of any corruption was found.
Such an account would explain how a phrase functioning as Patient ends up in
Subject position, while its canonical position is after the main verb.

Activo-passive constructions

Ergative Verbs

Consider the following examples:

(17) (a) The conductor began the concert.
(b) The concert began.

(18) (a) The sun melted the ice.
(b) The ice melted.

Notice how ergative verbs allow us to move NPs functioning as DOs (the
concert, the ice) into Subject positions without passivization. However these
structures resemble Agentless passives inasmuch as the NPs functioning as
Subjects (the conductor, the sun) that have been assigned the thematic role of
Agent in the D-structure are deleted in the S-structure, i.e. in the ergative

As regards their meaning, ergative verbs express all kinds of changes suffered by
certain Patients, some of them related to movement, some others to culinary
processes, as exemplified below:

(19) The child cracked the mirror with a toy. / The mirror cracked.
The storm sank the ship. / The ship sank.
The captain sailed the boat. / The boat sailed.
The player spun the ball. / The ball spun.
The cook filled the doughnuts with cream. / Her eyes filled with tears.
Mother cooled the soup for the baby. / The soup cooled.

Middle constructions

Middle constructions are also considered activo-passive structures just like the
ergative verbs. Among the differences that must be identified between the two
categories we start by mentioning the fact that middle constructions always
require an affected Subject NP, an intransitive verb which has a transitive
counterpart and an Adverbial Modifier. Here are a few examples:

(20) (a) This cake cuts easily.
(b) This dress washes well.
(c) The book sold well.
(d) The door opens to the left.
(e) This kettle boils quickly.
(f) The girl scares easily.

The above examples show us that the event or process expressed by the verb
affects the entity in the Subject position which most of the times is the Patient of
the action (as in (20) (a)-(d)), but it can be both the Patient and the Agent of the
action (as in (20) (e) and (f)) depending on the reading assigned to the verbs
For a detailed discussion of the syntax of the middle constructions as compared
to the passive, the active and the ergative structures, see Viorica Lifari (2007).

Passive-like causative GET and HAVE

The causative auxiliaries enter two types of structure. The Active patterns
(21) GET + NP (somebody) + long infinitive
HAVE + NP (somebody) + short infinitive

render the idea of demanding a person to perform an action.

(22) Ill get my cousin to post the letter for me.
We had the maid clean the windows yesterday.
He had his secretary reply the latest e-mails.
You must get your driver to take you to the hospital.

The examples show that the entities denoted by the Subject NPs are in charge of
the actions, though they do not really perform it; they rather benefit from it.
These NPs are assigned the Benefactive theta-role. The real Agents are the DO-
NPs: my cousin, the maid, his secretary, your driver.

The Passive patterns evince the following structure:
(23) GET/HAVE + NP (something) + Past Participle

They can express either someones arrangement for something to be done by
somebody else or just things that may happen to us.
(24) We had a taxi called by the porter.
They had their wedding organized by our company.

In (24) the Subject NPs carry the thematic roles of Benefactive, while the Agents
are represented by the Prepositional Phrases in the end of the sentences. The
difference in meaning between (24) and (25) is thus pointed out at the level of
thematic roles.
(25) The Simpsons had their office broken into.
Hes never got his wallet stolen.
The wounded got the shot made by the nurse.

The GET Passive better expresses a detrimental meaning. In (25) the first two
Subject NPs are assigned the Experiencer theta-role, while the DO-NPs their
office and his wallet represent the Patients. In the last example, the Subject NP is
Patient because the entity suffers the action, the DO-NP the shot is the
Instrument, and the PO-NP the nurse represents the Agent.

Our analysis has been made in terms of Subject-NPs and Direct Object NPs
trying to emphasize the transitivity of the main verbs. However, when analyzing
complex sentences such as We had the maid clean the windows yesterday we
must deal with Main Clauses and Embedded Clauses, as follows:

(26) We had/ the maid clean the windows yesterday/
1 Main Clause
2 Short Infinitive Nominal Clause functioning as Direct Object

Further details on the proper analysis of complex sentences will be provided in
the second volume of this book.

Negation and polarity items

In natural languages, negation functions as an operator, along with quantifiers
(QUANTIFICATION) and modals (MODALITY). Operators are more basic and have
more properties than ordinary predicates or functors. In particular, operators have a
scope; that is, there is always some other element either assumed or verbally
present in the discourse to which a negative, modal or quantifier refers. That linked
element is said to be the focus or to be in the scope of the negative (or modal;
quantifiers are said to bind rather than focus on another element). (J. Lawler in
Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Language Sciences)

Linguists have made the difference between local/constituent negation and
sentential negation.
(27) Peter no longer collects stamps, but coins!
You can never trust her.

Local negation has scope over a lexeme or a phrase, while sentential negation
extends to the entire sentence.
In order to be considered negative, a sentence must express the opposite truth
value of its Affirmative counterpart.
(28) We redecorated our house last week.
We didnt redecorate our house last week.

If the first sentence is true, the second is false. If the first sentence is false, then
the second is true.
Whenever individual lexemes are attached negative derivational morphemes
(prefixes or suffixes) there is an instance of local negation:
(29) He was driving carelessly.
Your information is inaccurate.

Unlike never or not which overtly express negation, there are lexemes evincing
an inherent negative meaning:
(30) to deny/ refute = not to admit
to refuse/ reject = not to accept
to doubt = not to believe/trust
to lack = not to have/own
to miss = not to catch
to prohibit = not to allow
to fail = not to succeed

Sentences based on the complete Negator not are called sentences of
full/complete negation. The use of incomplete Negators, such as: hardly,
scarcely, barely; never, seldom, rarely; little, few, only, neither, no, nobody etc.
lead to sentences of incomplete negation. Most of the times Negator pre-posing
triggers Subject-Auxiliary inversion.

(31) Hardly had he dialed the number when Thomas entered the door.
Little did he know what his decision would lead to.

A diachronic perspective upon the syntax of negation indicates a troublesome
process. Here is a brief presentation of the main approaches.

Klima (1964) assigns the Negator to the pre-sentential position, from where it is
later moved and incorporated into Auxiliary or indefinites.
In 1972, Lasniks conclusion of his study is that Neg actually appears in Comp

Later on, Pollock (1989) suggests the Split IP Hypothesis according to which
functional elements (Tense, Agreement, Negation) serve as heads of their own
phrasal category. Thus negation is represented as the head of a NEG Phrase.

(32) He did not hear the bell.

not NEG VP
Spec V
the bell

In 1997, Zanuttini analyses pre-verbal negative markers as Heads of the NEG
Phrase and post-verbal adverb-like heavier negatives as XP adjuncts.

Our aim is not to bring evidence in favour or against these theories; at least not in
this book. We are going to restrict our attention to readily identifiable licensers
with relatively clear positions at LF.

Our approach will be as follows: an overt negator like NOT is placed in the
Specifier position of the VP, being c-commanded by I and c-commanding all
items dominated by its sister-complement V, including all those negative
polarity items whose uses it licenses.

(33) My brother has not read any poems.



Spec N I[+Tense, pres] VP
[+ Agr.]
My N has Spec V

brother not V NP

read Spec N

any N

Polarity items are those lexemes or phrases that due to their inherent meaning or
collocational instances strictly require either an affirmative or a negative context.
Thus, we must distinguish between Affirmative Polarity Items (APIs) and
Negative Polarity Items (NPIs). APIs occur only in the scope of some affirmative
elements, while NPIs select a negative environment.

Polarity items range from grammatical formatives (some, any, ever, until, yet,
either, little, unless, lest) or lexical items (to bother, to budge, to fathom, to
flinch, to mind) to idiomatic constructions (to bat an eye, to hurt a flea, to give a
damn, in weeks, in donkeys years etc.).
(34) Troubles never come singly.
No pain, no gains.
They dont give two pins for that.

According to Quirk (1972) all sentential environments which require or allow the
use of Negative Polarity Items are [- assertive]. In fact, a sentence is
grammatically correct only if its assertivity corresponds to the [ assertive]
inherent feature of the polarity items. (Suggested reading on Polarity Reversal
Rule in Cornilescu, 1982: 15-18, 32-34)

(35) Youd better leave now. [+ assertive] inherent marking;
[+ assertive] derivational marking

(36) *You hadnt better leave now. [+ assertive] inherent marking;
[- assertive] derivational marking

Activity. Identify the negative polarity idioms. Use them in negative clauses to
see if their [ assertive] inherent marking matches the derivational, sentential

a fat chance; in the least; bat an eyelid; bark up the wrong tree; be all ears

The occurrence of Negative Polarity Items indicates various types of semantic
opposition and syntactic structure. Evidence can be brought from the negative
Deontic and Epistemic meanings of the modal verbs. When negated, a strong
Deontic meaning like obligation results either into a weaker negative meaning,
namely lack of necessity, or into an even stronger negative meaning, i.e.

(37) You must/ have to insert footnotes in your paper.
You dont have to insert footnotes in your paper. (lack of necessity)
You mustnt insert footnotes in your paper. (interdiction)

A weak Epistemic meaning like possibility turns into a strong negative meaning,
namely impossibility, which conveys the speakers higher degree of certainty:

(38) He may have left the country.
He cant have left the country.

Beside semantic oppositions, Negative Polarity Items indicate certain syntactic
structures. For instance, it was proved (Ladusaw, 1980; Sailer, 1995) that NPIs
occur only in the scope of monotone decreasing operators.

(39) Few of my students ever read further bibliography.

In the example above, the downward monotone quantifier few of licenses the use
of NPI ever.

Activity. Find examples of sentences based on negative polarity idioms that
follow the syntactic patterns below:
d. have + not
e. NP + not + verb
f. be + not
g. not + Vb
h. existential there constructions
i. modal verb
j. other patterns

Polarity is by no means a complex problem so identifying polarity items requires
large corpus studies in order to lead to Universal postulates.

Predication Types

Copulative Predication


The typical copula verb is BE in which case it is semantically empty.
Other copula-like or linking verbs can be identified depending on the subject
selection and semantic features:
BECOME: In time, the carpet became an old rag.
FALL: Soon the guard fell asleep.
LIE: The ship lay deserted on the bottom of the sea./ The teams
failure lay heavy on the coachs shoulders/conscience.
SEEM: The manager seemed disappointed by our project.
STAND: The accused stood correctly during the trial. / His room
stood empty for one year after his death.
REST: We can rest easy and celebrate as we have passed our last
SIT: The envelope sat unopened on the cupboard. / Sit tight until
the crisis passes.
PASS: Due to his accent he could easily pass for an Englishman.

Activity. Are verbs of perception always copular verbs? Provide examples.

Copula verb + Predicative

The predicative can be a Noun Phrase, an Adjectival Phrase, a Prepositional
Phrase or a Complementizer Phrase (clausal constituent, finite/non-finite).
Provide examples of each type. Traditionalists often label this function as
Subject Complement.

Activity. Provide examples to illustrate the grammatical regime of the verb to
be (copular BE, existential BE, auxiliary BE (Progressive; Passive), modal BE).
e.g. She is a student./ She is in the classroom./ She is drinking water./ She is
threatened by her mother./ She is to marry in August.

Despite the distinct syntactic and semantic features of the types of BE, they all
share the same behavioural features, namely:
BE does not require do-inversion except for the negative imperatives
(Dont be so cruel!)
In interrogative sentences it undergoes inversion with the subject: Is Mary
at home?
The negation is inserted after BE: The pupil is not writing!
All types of Be can be deleted in contexts like relative clauses: The man
(who is) ringing at the door
All types of Be can undergo there-insertion except for the copula BE:
There are no children in the garden.
Only the existential BE assigns thematic roles to its neighbours:
She is at school. BE <theme, location>

There are two main types of Copulative Predications, namely:
1. the Attributive Type: A is B; A differs from B; A the attributed - is the
entity to which the Predicate assigns a property; B the attribuant is the entity
denoting the respective property.
(43) Money is important./ Bill is an engineer.

2. the Equative Type: A is B and consequently B is A; A is the identified ; B is
the identifier.
(44) He is the Prime Minister of France./ My deskmate is the smartest child in
the classroom.

Activity. Distinguish between the attributive and the equative type in the
following sentences:
1. His behaviour was above reproach.
2. The weather has turned cold and windy.
3. Dmitrii Anatolevich Medevedev became Russias president on 2
4. Margaret Thatcher was the United Kingdoms first female Prime-Minister in

Reciprocal Copulative Predicates

- The Subject is expressed by a finite number of nominal phrase (minimally
two) or by a plural NP.
- There is a relation of reciprocity between the terms that make up the
Subject; none of the terms is subordinated to the others.
- The predicative adjectives may indicate positive/ neutral or negative
(different) reciprocal relationships.

(45) Martin and Denise are married. / The women and children were
separated from the men. / Grammar is similar to Mathematics.


Non-copulative ntransitive Predication

This type of predication is carried out by semantically independent verbs. Unlike
in the case of transitive predication, the intransitive verb is never followed by a
phrase functioning as a Direct Object as part of the intransitive predication.

Simple Intransitives


Unaccusative predicates are verbs that do not assign accusative case to the
complements that follow them. This feature distinguishes them from the
transitive verbs. Moreover, whereas in a transitive construction both the Subject
and the Complement are assigned thematic roles, unaccusative structures have a
non-thematic there subject, which is not a theta-marked argument of the verb
but a purely expletive one. Here are some examples:

(47) There came the three armed policemen.
There goes my last penny!
There stood the Queen herself right in front of my humble desk!
There remains little chance of stopping them.
There have arisen several changes in the timetable.
There have occurred some unexpected incidents.

The Subject NPs anticipated by there have the thematic role of Theme.
Generative Grammar explains the structure by analyzing the two transformations
that take place, namely: movement of Subject NP into the VP right after the main

S + Vintr.: The dog is sleeping.

verb and then insertion of the expletive there in the position left empty by the
moved Subject.

Activity. Try to explain the required inversion between verb and Subject NP
after expletive there in terms of Movement within the frame of Government
and Binding Syntax.

Unergative verbs differ from the unaccusatives in that their Subject NPs carry
the thematic role of Agent and they never follow the verb.

(48) The children were sleeping.
The old man laughed in amazement.
The disappointed mother was muttering to herself.

Another structural difference noticeable from the examples above is that unlike
unergative verbs, the unaccusatives cannot be used in the Progressive aspect.

Complex Intransitive Predications

1. Prepositional Intransitive verbs (Vintr. + PO):
(49) The visitors are looking at the paintings.
She is waiting for her friends.
The manager relied on her coming.
I agree with your suggestion.

2. Intransitive verbs with particle and preposition (Vintr. + particle +PO):

(50) The manager came up with a solution.
We can no longer put up with pollution.
The Spanish caught up with the English athlete just before the finish line.
They have fallen behind with their instalments.

3. Intransitive verbs with a Prepositional Indirect Object (Vintr. + IO):
(51) A terrible thing might happen to your aunt.
(52) Your proposal sounds like blackmail to me.
The house smelled of perfume to me.
(53) The Dean talked down to the teacher in front of the students.
This car belongs to the mayor.

4. Intransitive verbs with 2 Prepositional Objects (Vintr. + PO/IO + PO):
Vintr. + PO + PO
(54) The student was arguing with his teacher about his mark.
Down the shore you could bargain with the traders over the price of any
John agreed with his parents about the change of itinerary.

Vintr. + IO + PO
(55) The manager talked to the employees about the crisis.
They signaled to the waiter for another beer.
Criminals would pray to God for mercy.

5. Intransitive verbs followed by Adjuncts (Vintr. + Adverbial Modifier):

(56) The children have been playing for three hours.
The balcony faces east.
The train accelerated gradually.

6. Reciprocal intransitive verbs:
(57) The dates of the two conferences have overlapped.
Their parents divorced two years ago.
None of these glasses match.

The Process of Intransitivization

Basically a transitive verb can become intransitive when it gives up on its Direct
Object. This can take place by means of two important processes:
1. DELETION of the Direct Object:
(58) In order to get on time to work she has to drive (her car) each and every
2. DELETION of the reflexive Direct Object
3. PROMOTION of the Direct Object in Subject position:
(59) The book sold well.

Transitive Predication

All transitives share the feature [_ NP]. This NP occupies the Complement
position, being governed by the transitive verb. The verb governor assigns
Accusative case to its governee.
(60) You must send the letter today.
Mother is baking a cake.
He always makes me laugh.

Simple Transitives

Linguists make the difference between monotransitive verbs, i.e. those
transitive verbs that have only one argument functioning as DO, and ditransitive
verbs or better ditransitive complementation which includes those transitive
verbs that take two arguments functioning as DOs (The teachers have asked him
a lot of questions./ This car cost him a lot of money.) or one having the function
of DO and the other of IO (His father handed him the keys yesterday./ A clown
has given us the tickets.).

Pinker (1989) suggests that productive use of the ditransitive syntax is the result of a
lexicosemantic rule which takes as input a verb with the semantics X CAUSES Y TO GO TO
Z and produces the semantic structure X CAUSES Z TO HAVE Y. The double object syntax,
he argues, is then predictable from near-universal linking rules mapping the arguments of a verb
with the meaning X CAUSES Z TO HAVE Y into the ditransitive form. (Goldberg, 1995: 8)

Pinkers claim is clearly supported by examples under the heading dative
causatives that will be discussed later on in this section.
Here are some of the subcategories of simple transitive verbs mainly following
Domnica Serbans classification (2002: 102-104):

1. Monotransitive verbs with affected DO:

(61) The dentist brushes his teeth four times a day.
The child crunched the carrot noisily.
Mother froze some vegetables last month.

The underlined NPs functioning as DOs are obviously affected by the action
denoted by the transitive verb. In the examples above the DOs are assigned the
thematic role of Patient. However there are verbs that denote actions performed
to the benefit of their arguments, as in:

(62) The children have decorated the fir-tree.
The mechanic has repaired our car.

2. Monotransitive verbs with effected/resultative DO:

(63) Our partnership facilitates this transaction.
This actress has sewn her own outfit.
The teacher gave an interesting talk on her visit to
California University.

3. Monotransitive verbs with affected and/or effected DO:
Vtransitive + affected DO Vtransitive + effected DO
She fashioned the clay into a pot. She fashioned a pot from the clay.
The child has painted the window
The child has painted a nice
Grandma cut her finger by mistake. This tailor cuts fashionable clothes.

4. Monotransitive verbs with cognate DO involve homonymous terms:
(65) to dream a dream, to sleep ones sleep out, to fight a fight
or hyponymic terms:

(66) to sleep the sleep of the just, to dance the last dance, to laugh a bitter
laugh, to fight a battle

5. Monotransitive verbs with Instrumental DO:

(67) Martin turned the key to unlock the door.
The waiter handled the plates carefully.
Mother used the whisk to stir the eggs.

6. Monotransitive verbs with Locative DO:

(68) The policeman crossed the street in a hurry.
She entered the room all of a sudden.
We have already visited the Tower.

7. Monotransitive verbs with Abstract DO are verbs that denote an abstract
activity or process followed by an Affected or Effected [-Animate] NP
functioning as direct object:

(69) These methods should enhance efficiency.
The red light denotes an error.
The Netherlands amended the military criminal code.

8. Relational verbs:

a. reciprocal verbs which express symmetric relations between the subject and
the DO:
(70) She resembles her father.
These trousers dont fit me at all.
This frame perfectly matches your photo.

b. verbs of possession:
(71) The architect owned two flats in Germany.
He evinced a strong desire to win the competition.
She possessed that kind of self confidence that nobody could defeat her.

c. verbs of inclusion (to enclose, to include, to feature, to contain)
(72) This syringe contains the antidote.
By midnight she had covered half of the subjects for the
The university board comprises teachers and students as well.

9. Causative verbs
a. periphrastic causatives:
(73) I had my car repaired yesterday.
The heat will make the windows steam up.
They havent found out what caused the accident.

b. lexical causatives have intransitive verbs as their counterparts, the transitive
verb expressing the cause of the process, whereas the intransitive verb denotes
the caused action. Here are several examples: to remind = to cause somebody to
remember; to raise = to cause sb./sth. to rise; to teach = to cause sb. to learn; to
kill = to cause sb. to die; to throw = to cause sth. to fall
(74) That mail reminded me of her birthday.
The flood raised the water level.
He has taught us Maths for one semester.

c. morphological causatives are transitive verbs that have been derived from
other lexical items by means of word-formation processes, such as:

- conversion:
(75) He has never feared the unknown.
The collector has faked the signature on the painting.
His friends could never fault his honesty.
She ironed the folds of her skirt carefully.
The lady suddenly faced the man who was following her.

- affixation:
(76) The Town Hall decided to widen the main avenues.
The farmer tightened the rope around the horses legs.

d. attitudinal causatives involve the presence of an Experiencer (which
functions as DO) and of a Stimulus (the Subject):
(77) Her performance disappointed the audience.
The roar of the lion frightened the visitors at the Zoo.
The childs song impressed his parents.

e. dative causatives are ditransitive causative verbs followed by a DO and an IO:
give, send, sell, show
(78) Will you do me a favour?
Our company shall deliver the products to its purchaser in due

There are also some transitive verbs that have developed a causative meaning, as
(79) Grandparents would forgive him anything.
Victory would earn them a semi-final place against Surrey or Kent
tomorrow. (British National Corpus)

f. ergative verbs are verbs that can function either as transitive or as intransitive
without any change in form and without passivization (to sink, to float, to dry, to
ring, to break):
Vtransitive Vintransitive
The sun faded the T-shirt. The T-shirt faded in the sun.
She dropped her voice dramatically. Her voice dropped (in a whisper).
The heat steamed his glasses up. His glasses steamed up.

10. Lexically complex transitive verbs are phrasal verbs (verb + particle)
followed by a direct object. The whole verb phrase can be subjected to particle
movement or not. The particle must accompany the verb or it may move after the
direct object sometimes changing the meaning of the VP. For instance,
considering the verb to run, one can notice that in the phrase run into somebody
with the meaning meet sb. by chance no particle movement is allowed, whereas
to knock sth. and kill it can be expressed either by run sth. over or by run over
sth. However the latter VP has a second interpretation, namely to read
something carefully.

(81) The terrorists blew the Towers up in September.
I had to cut the article down to 1500 words.
Researchers have carried out a survey on learning standards.
Your brother will find out the truth.
The peacock fanned out its coloured tail feathers.

Complex Transitives

Complex transitive predications have the following underlying syntactic frame as
it can be noticed in the analysis of the examples below:
(82) The weather conditions prevented the plane from landing.
[_ NP, PP]
I have already told the news to your new English teacher.
[_ NP, to/for NP]

1. Transitive verbs followed by Predicative Adjunct (OC) are called factitive
verbs (choose, elect, make, name, judge). Unlike causative verbs that make an
action take place, factitive verbs cause the direct object NP to pass into a
different state. The new state is expressed by a Predicative Adjunct/ Object
Complement that follows the DO.
(83) They elected him chairman.
Local authorities have judged his nomination a great success.
Yesterday the Association chose White (to be) their president.

2. Prepositional transitive verbs are verbs accompanied by a NP functioning as
direct object and a PP functioning as prepositional object:
(84) The policeman matched the prints against forensic evidence.
The con man talked the old lady into buying the old carpet.
She couldnt forgive him for lying to her.

3. Transitive verbs with particle and preposition are verbs accompanied by
Adverbial particle and obligatory preposition:
(85) Nobody would have thrown her death back at Mike.
Her accurate style set Jamie apart from other competitors.
The President managed to talk the journalists round to his way of
Activity. Identify the type of predication and analyse the sentence constituents:
1. Her dream was to marry my son.
2. A gang of thieves broke in last night.
3. She passes for an experienced doctor.
4. The married couple has recently separated.
5. That possibility has never occurred to anyone.
6. She talks to her husband about her latest success.


Transformations force us to accept and recognize as relevant the two levels of
structure in the Theory of Grammar, namely: the Deep Structure (D-structure) on
which various transformations may be applied in order to provide the Surface
Structure (S-structure).
For example, considering the sentence The bell has rung, the D-structure which
serves as input to the rule of V-MOVEMENT (discussed in the following lines)
(1) The bell [I e] [VP have rung]. D-structure
whereas the S-structure is derived by applying the rule:
The bell [I has] [VP ____ rung]. S-structure

Furthermore, as the reader will notice in the following presentation, the evidence
brought in favour of the use and eligibility of these types of traditional
transformations requires knowledge brought to the fore by linguists when
discovering universal principles of language, such as: the Projection Principle.

Projection Principle
Representations at every syntactic level (D-structure, S-structure, Logical
structure) are projected from the lexicon in that they observe the
subcategorisation and thematic properties of lexical items. (Cornilescu
(1996: 178))

The Projection Principle requires that the subcategorisation and thematic
information of the lexical categories that make up a sentence must be preserved
during derivation. This is syntactically realized by the empty element called trace
[t] which will remain in the initial position of the displaced item. The trace will
indicate the subcategorized position, hence the syntactic function and the
thematic role of the moved constituent, as in the following example:

(2) [NP They] are drawing [NP a chart].
Agent Goal
[NPi What] are [NP they] drawing [NP ti]?

The trace forms a chain with the moved constituent. In the chain (whati; ti), the
trace ti shows that what functions as a Direct Object thematically indexed (i) as
Goal. The trace is a phonologically null category left behind after movement.

In the following subchapters we will discuss a few types of transformations and
account for their appropriateness with suitable arguments.


Linguists such as Koopman (1984), Chomsky (1986 b), Radford (1988) claim
that whenever there is an empty Inflection (I) in a Clause (so when there is no
Modal/Auxiliary), the finite verb originates in the VP, but is moved into the
empty I by V-MOVEMENT, acquiring the Tense and Agreement properties
associated with I, becoming an inflected verb-form:

(3) (a) Matt [I will] [VP drive carefully].

(b) Matt [I e] [VP [V drive] carefully].

(c) Matt [I drives] [VP ____ carefully].

Clear evidence in favour of this theory is offered by the case of the verbs
HAVE and BE which are always extracted from the VP to fill a finite empty I
position, where they acquire all relevant Tense-Agreement features:

(4) (a) The baby [I e] [VP be crying].

(b) The baby [I is] [VP ____ crying].

(5) (a) The rain [I e] [VP have stopped].

(b) The rain [I has] [VP ____ stopped].

Consider the tree diagram below:


Spec N I[+finite] VP

A N must Spec V

priest not V


Notice that the negative adverb is placed in the Specifier of the VP allowing the
modal auxiliary to move into the I-node to acquire its inflectional features.
In the case of aspectual auxiliaries, for instance, the particle not is directly
attached to the inflected forms of HAVE and BE which supports their movement
from the VP into the empty finite I. According to the pattern:
(7) Matt [I will] not [VP drive carefully].

we can notice that the negative particle is inserted between the Inflection (here
the Modal Auxiliary will) and the VP. The inflected forms of BE and HAVE
clearly take over the same position as the Modal Auxiliary inasmuch as the
negative particle follows them closely:

(8) (a) She [I e] not [VP be reading].

(b) She [I is] not [VP ____ reading].

The example above shows how the Aspectual Auxiliary be moves out of the VP
into I by V-MOVEMENT to acquire the necessary Tense-Agreement features.

(9) (a) The train [I e] not [VP have left].

(b) The train [I has] not [VP ____ left].

The same transformation occurs in the case of the Aspectual Auxiliary have
which is inflected for Tense and Agreement, surfacing as the 3
person singular
Present Tense form has.

For a more complex approach to V-MOVEMENT supported by a contrastive
analysis of examples from English, French and Romanian, we recommend
Alexandra Cornilescu (1996: 198-201).

Activity. Discuss the derivation of the following sentences, providing arguments
to support your analysis:
1. Mary felt very lonely.
2. The sun was shining brightly.
3. They had met before.
4. This ring means engagement.
5. Your friend has not passed the exam.

-MOVEMENT and Yes/No Ouestions

I-MOVEMENT is the transformation that applies on an affirmative sentence and
turns it into an interrogative one. More precisely, I-MOVEMENT allows the
well-known Subject-Auxiliary/Operator Inversion by means of which a statement
(10) He can ride a bike.
turns into a Yes/No Direct Question as in (11) below:
(11) Can he ride a bike?
The claim is that the Inflection (I) moves from the VP of the sentence into an
empty category [e] that precedes the sentence, as indicated schematically by the
following diagram:

(12) S

He can ride a bike
However, I-MOVEMENT is blocked in Yes/No Interrogative Dependant
Clauses introduced by the overt Complementisers whether/if that fill in the
former empty category:
(13) They wondered [whether/if he could ride a bike].

Whenever several rules are applicable one after another, we get a derivation of
the sentence under analysis. For instance, the derivation proposed for the Yes/No
Direct Question Is the baby crying? can be represented as follows:

(14) (a) [C e] [S The baby [I e] [VP be crying]].

(b) [C e] [S The baby [I is] [VP ____ crying]].

(c) [C Is] [S the baby [I _ ] [VP ____ crying]]?

To put it into words, there are two stages in the derivation starting from the D-
structure (14) (a) until the final derived structure, the S-structure (14) (c). Firstly,
we apply V-MOVEMENT on the D-structure, by which the Aspectual Auxiliary
be is moved into the empty Inflection position acquiring the Tense-Agreement
features. Secondly, we apply I-MOVEMENT so that the inflected form is moves
into the empty category that precedes the derived sentence (14) (b) providing the
interrogative form of the D-structure, under the form of the Yes/No direct
question Is the baby crying?.

Activity. Discuss the derivation of the following sentences, providing arguments
to support your analysis:
1. Is it raining?
2. Will you help us?
3. Do you remember me?
4. Does his father read the newspaper?
5. May I call you tonight?

Wh-MOVEMENT and Wh- Ouestions

Starting from embedded questions, the Government and Binding Theory states
that direct questions are also Complementizer Phrases whose Complementizer
position is empty in the Deep structure.
The head of the VP, namely the highest auxiliary moves into the Inflection
position and then into the Complementizer position to derive the correct word
order or Surface structure of a Yes/No question for instance.

Yes/No questions are used when the speaker is interested in the truthfulness or
falsity of a situation:
(15) A: Have you bought a new car?
B: Yes/No

By asking Wh-questions the speaker is aware of the fact, however he/she requires
further information about certain items already mentioned in a sentence. As the
label states it, such questions begin with an interrogative wh-phrase, such as who,
what, which, when, where, why including how as well:

(16) Where do you live?

Besides such direct Wh-questions, there are also indirect/dependant Wh-
questions that make up the Complement of a verb like ask from the Main Clause:
(17) They asked him what his name was.

Notice the difference in structure between (16) and (17). The D-structure of (16)
has obviously been affected by transformations, such as I-MOVEMENT and
Wh-MOVEMENT in order to derive the question, whereas in (17) operator
fronting cannot take place as the embedded/subordinate clause is introduced by
the Wh-phrase (here, what) which fills the Complementiser slot.

In order to represent direct Wh-questions in tree diagrams, we need a new node
Q (for question) to distinguish between declarative and interrogative sentences:

(18) What can you sing?






What can you [t] sing [t]

The diagram illustrates the stages followed to derive the interrogative structure,
as follows:
Stage 1: modal operator/ Inflection fronting which shifts can around the
subject; the Inflection moves to the left into the empty Complementiser
position outside the Sentence;
Stage 2: Wh-MOVEMENT which extracts the Wh-phrase and moves it
into the leftmost empty slot Q, thereby leaving a trace within the sentence
S which indicates the subcategorized position, both the syntactic function
and the thematic role of the displaced constituent (according to the
Projection Principle).

Lets identify the traces [t] left by the moved items in the examples below:

(19) (a) [NP Her friends] will visit [NP her] [PP at the hospital].
Agent Theme Location
(b) [NPi Whom] will [NP her friends] [I t] visit [NPi t] [PP at the
Theme Agent Location
(c) [PPi Where] will [NP her friends] [I t] visit [NPi her] [PPi t]?
Location Agent Theme

As the 0-criterion states that all Arguments must have a theta-role, we might
easily think that sentences like (19) (b) and (c) are ill-formed. Hence, the need to
accept the existence of a D-structure like (19) (a) subjected to the respective Wh-
movements by which certain wh-phrases (here, whom and where) have been
extracted and preposed in a slot that precedes the Complementiser.

So we can state that sentences like (19) (b) and (c) derive from the following D-
structures (20) (a) and (b), respectively:

(20) (a) Her friends will visit whom at the hospital?
(b) Her friends will visit her where?

It is at this level that the appropriate thematic roles have been assigned and the
Wh-items will carry this information during and after their movement.

Activity. Discuss the derivation of the following sentences, providing arguments
to support your analysis:
1. What do you think?
2. How can you drive this car?
3. Where is he going?
4. How long have you been waiting for us?
5. Which is your favourite book?

Activity. Account for the degree of (in)appropriateness of the following
questions, discussing also their derivation. Remember also the Condition on
Extraction Domains explained earlier in the book to help you support your
1. Why did he have an accident because he wasnt driving?
2. Who did we remember that was coming?
3. What wont she go to sleep until she finishes writing?
4. What is it important for them to buy?
5. Which car do you think he seems to like most?


NP-movement is claimed by linguists to be involved in the process of
passivization, as well as in ergative, middle and dative constructions. Each of
these structures will be discussed below accompanied by examples to show how
the D-structures of some sentences are converted into corresponding S-structures
by means of NP-movement.

NP-MOVEMENT in passive constructions

NP-movement was also supported by traditional linguists who analysed the
process of passivization in terms of the syntactic functions of the sentence

(21) Mary will bring a camera. A camera will be brought by Mary.

In traditional grammar, passivization was discussed as a rule by which the DO of
the initial sentence moves into the Subject position, while the active Subject
becomes a PO of agent. However, in order for the DO to be promoted, the
Subject position should be empty, so the right order of the transformations is as

(22) (a) Mary will bring a camera.
S S-demotion DO
(b) [t] will bring a camera by Mary.
DO PO of Agent
(c) A camera will be brought [t] by Mary.
S V[PASS] PO of Agent

Thus the transformational approach to Grammar argues that the D-structure of
the sentence in the active voice is converted into the S-structure of a sentence in
the passive voice by applying the following transformations:

Step 1: movement of the NP functioning as the Deep Subject. The active
Subject Mary is thus postponed in the end of the sentence:

(23) [t] will bring [a camera] [Mary].

Step 2: The sentence above, i.e. (23), cannot be considered grammatical as
English is a SVO language, so the Subject position must not be left empty.
Moreover, the presence of two NPs in the Accusative after the verb bring
will fail to satisfy the subcategorisation frame of this verb.
This kind of evidence accounts for the next transformation, namely NP-
movement of the active Object to fill the empty Subject position. Thus the
NP a camera functioning as the DO of the active sentence is
promoted/preposed and becomes the Subject of a derived structure, as
shown below:

(24) [A camera] will bring [Mary].

Step 3: As such, the new Base Structure is ungrammatical due to various
reasons. The most obvious is that a verb like bring cannot select a [-
ANIMATE] subject as Agent. Thereby the need for the third stage:
insertion of passive Auxiliary BE and attachment of EN to the main verb:
(25) [A camera] will be brought [Mary].

Stage 4: The above derived structure (24) clearly shows that the NP a
camera functioning as Subject carries the thematic role of Theme. Thus,
according to the 0-grid of the verb bring, the NP Mary must become the
Agent of the initiated action. This will be done by inserting the passive
preposition BY in front of the new Object, providing the final derived
structure or the S-structure of the active sentence:
(26) [A camera] will be brought [by Mary].

At this point, one may argue that by inserting another preposition like to, for
instance, in front of the NP Mary, we also get a grammatical S-structure:
(27) [A camera] will be brought [to Mary].

So why should we insert the preposition by and not to?
Remember that transformations generally reorder the constituents of a sentence
preserving its basic meaning or the propositional content, although the resulting
sentence does not evince perfect synonymy due to the changes in the focus of the
Moreover, reordering involves dealing with the same constituents that carry the
same thematic roles they have been assigned at the level of D-structure. Hence,
by inserting the preposition to, the PP to Mary represents the Goal, the point
towards which the action is directed. On the contrary, the NP Mary will keep
functioning as Agent only if we insert the preposition by, obtaining the PP by
Mary which will function as PO of Agent.

Activity. Remember also the way in which Passive Voice is analysed in GB
Theory. Are the following statements True or False?
1. The semantic role stays with the original position rather than moving with the
2. The semantic role is not part of the tree but part of the lexical
subcategorization that goes with the D-structure position.
3. Movement into a position linked to a semantic role is not allowed.

NP-MOVEMENT in ergative structures

Following the same line of argument, we have decided to bring evidence in
favour of NP-movement in ergative constructions as our initial claim is that an
ergative clause is only a derived structure within an intermediate stage which
makes the transition towards the final passive construction.
Remember that ergative verbs are those intransitive verbs that have transitive
counterparts as shown below:

(28) (a) The postman rang the bell.
(b) The bell rang.

(29) (a) The referee blew the whistle.
(b) The whistle blew.

(30) (a) The reporter ended the interview.
(b) The interview ended.

Starting the derivation of example (28) (a) The postman rang the bell, we decide
to follow the same procedure as in the above (22) (Mary will bring a camera.).
In the first stage we need an empty NP Subject so we apply NP-movement to the
postman as shown below:
(31) [t] rang [the bell] [the postman].

In order for the derived structure to be grammatical we must insert the
preposition by before the NP the postman to preserve both the thematic and the
propositional information of the D-structure:
(32) [t] rang [the bell] [by the postman].

As no grammatical sentence in English can allow an empty NP Subject. We must
farther on apply NP-movement to the DO the bell which is promoted to the
Subject position:
(33) [The bell] rang [t] [by the postman].
Theme Agent

At this stage we notice that the verb allows us either to delete the Agent, thus
deriving the ergative clause (34) or to insert the passive Auxiliary BE which is
inflected with the Tense-Agreement features and attach EN to the main verb,
hence deriving the passive construction (35).
(34) [The bell] rang [t].
(35) [The bell] was rung [by the postman].

Activity. Discuss the derivation of the following sentences, providing arguments
to support your analysis:
1. The war ended. 2. The noise stopped. 3. His eyes closed.
4. Her name changed. 5. The dress shrank.

NP-MOVEMENT in middle structures

Middle structures are also activo-passive constructions like the ergative ones
presented in the previous subchapter.

In terms of transformations, a sentence like
(36) This cake cuts easily
originates in the D-structure:
(37) John cuts the cake easily.

on which we firstly apply NP Subject Demotion and insertion of the Agentive
preposition by required by the thematic information of the displaced constituent

(38) [t] cuts the cake easily [by John].

Then the DO NP is promoted into the empty Subject position:

(39) [The cake] cuts easily [by John].

At this stage one can decide whether to delete the Agent in order to derive the
middle construction or to insert the passive Auxiliary BE and attach EN to the
main verb and obtain the passive alternative.

Activity. Discuss the derivation of the following sentences, providing arguments
to support your analysis:
1. This ball rolls smoothly.
2. The play reads easily.
3. The child frightens too often.
4. This rule applies here.
5. She photographs very well.

Activity. Discuss the derivation of the following sentences, providing arguments
to support your analysis and stating any differences in meaning interpretation:
1. a) The window broke. / b) The window breaks easily.
2. a) The door closed. / b) The door closes automatically.
3. a) The chicken has fried. / b) Chicken fries quickly.

8ummary and conclusions

As the reader can notice along the presentation in this chapter, the evidence
brought in favour of such transformations makes use of several principles and
concepts that were determined in fact by other refined approaches that followed
the Transformational Approach to Grammar, as linguists tried to identify
universal rather than individual rules, universal principles governing the
application of transformations that derive further structures.

Here are only a few of the recurrent principles indirectly touched upon in this
book, as defined by Radford in his works (1988; 2003):

Generalised Structure Preserving Principle
All transformations are structure-preserving, and comprise either structure-
preserving substitutions or structure-preserving adjunctions.

Extended Projection Principle
Lexical requirements (viz. categorial, subcategorisation, and thematic
properties) and structural requirements (viz. the requirement that a Clause
should have a Subject) must be uniformly satisfied at all syntactic levels.
(Radford, 1988:583)

A finite tense constituent T must be extended into a TP projection containing
a subject. (Radford, 2003: 42)

Trace Movement Principle
Any moved constituent X leaves behind at its extraction site a coiendexed
identical empty category [X e]. This empty category is known as a trace, and
the moved constituent is said to be the antecedent of the trace.

Trace Erasure Principle
No moved constituent can erase the trace of another constituent.

Chain Transmission Principle
A moved constituent and any coindexed traces it has form a chain.
Grammatical properties are freely transmitted between the links of a
movement chain.

Headedness Principle
Every syntactic structure is a projection of a head word.

Binarity Principle
Every syntactic structure is binary-branching.

Activity. Make up your own glossary of 10 major terms and/or Universal
Principles that guide the structure of the Simple Sentence in English Syntax.

Chomskys linguistic theories are based on the principle of generative
creativity. Given only a finite set of principles and rules, many different well-
formed sentences of a language can be generated. This capacity is said to be
innate to individuals and universal for all humans.
However, the purpose of this book is not to provide a detailed analysis of all
Principles and Parameters that have changed the linguists perspective on
Grammar, but to identify only the most important ones that will help an advanced
learner to understand the latest approaches to Syntax and to use appropriate
academic terms in discussing various syntactic configurations.





1. Name and exemplify the non-finite forms of the verb.
2. Make the difference between: adjuncts and disjuncts. Exemplify.
3. Analyse the following predications in terms of cause-effect relationship
and classify them from [-VOLITION] to [+VOLITION] taking into
account the types of entities [RATIONAL] involved:
a. The new law revolted the medical staff.
b. Black clothes grieve me all the time.
c. George prevented Michael from climbing that mountain.
d. The Doctor cured her in a month.
e. The student persuaded his teacher that he was right.
4. Analyse the structure of the verb phrase in:
a. set off on a journey b. make up for the lost time
5. Exemplify ergative verbs. Explain why they form a specialised system.


1. Make the difference between conjuncts and adjuncts.
2. Indicate the syntactic function of each word in the following sentences:
Youll get a surprise./ He got his shoes and socks wet./ He got himself into
3. Exemplify and explain the complex object.
4. Analyse the structure of the verb phrase in:
a. go across to the bakers b. put up with him
5. Exemplify the affected and the effected object.


1. Illustrate: a) affected object; b) effected object; c) cognate object
2. Explain and exemplify copulative predication, the equative type.
3. Analyse the predication and specify the syntactic function the clause
constituents in:
She was talking nervously on the phone to her aunt.
4. Make up sentences of your own using the verbs below. Discuss the
predications and comment upon the verbs behaviour in the Passive Voice.
let resemble fit rumour say
5. Exemplify and explain the complex transitive verb.


1. Illustrate: a) subject complement; b) object complement; c) indirect object

2. Explain and exemplify copulative predication, the attributive type.

3. Analyse the predication and specify the syntactic function of each
constituent in:
The storm sank the ship. The ship sank.

4. Turn into the Passive where possible:
a. They will carry out the survey next week.
b. Nicholas has always looked down on his parents.
c. The ministers looked into the matter carefully.

5. Explain and exemplify: existential there, locative there and expletive


1. Turn into the Passive Voice where possible:
a. Marys friends talked her into applying for the scholarship.
b. The media could not pass over the Ministers resignation.
c. The manager did not approve of my plan.

2. Provide examples and draw the tree diagrams to account for the following
statements taken from Bas Aarts (2008):
a. The aspectual auxiliary acquires its inflectional present tense ending by
moving from the VP that dominates it into the I-node.
b. If a clause contains a modal verb or the infinitival marker to, these elements
are positioned under the I-node.

3. Explain and exemplify the following concepts: argument structure, anaphora,
unaccusative verbs.

4. Analyse the following predications in terms of cause-effect relationship and
classify them from [-VOLITION] to [+VOLITION] taking into account the types
of entities [RATIONAL] involved:
a. The wind dried the laundry.
b. The Prime Minister has cancelled the visit.
c. The truck loaded the garbage.
d. Jane scratched the mirror.
e. The lion attacked the hunter.

5. Discuss and exemplify question formation under the GB frame.


1. Analyse the following predications focusing upon the causative-inchoative
a. He gripped the wheel until his knuckles whitened.
b. Snow has whitened the tops of the mountains.

2. Discuss the examples below in terms of their temporal and aspectual
a. The financial crisis set back the modernization plans by several months.
b. You have reached the midpoint of your flight training.
c. The speaker went on as if nothing had happened.
d. Politicians must set about learning two or three foreign languages.
e. The wedding must proceed as planned.

3. Provide three examples of passive sentences with a non-Patient theta-role
syntactic subject.

4. Aarts (2008: 254) explains the term of Subsective Gradience as a grammatical
phenomenon which distinguishes typical examples belonging to certain
grammatical categories and less typical members as far as their distributional
properties are concerned. Discuss the typical and atypical features of the
following pairs:

a. NOUNS: book luggage; b.ADJECTIVES: interesting ajar;
c. VERBS: read can; d. PREPOSITIONS: in as


1. Identify the thematic roles of NPs in the following sentences:
a. Robert gave the door a coat of paint.
b. The burglar climbed from the office up a ladder onto the roof.
c. Stars functioned economically as commodities.
d. The conference room seats 100 people.
e. Suspicion submerged in her mind.

2. Intersective Gradience is defined as the grammatical phenomenon which deals
with elements that share properties of more than one word class (Aarts, 2008:
254). Is reading a noun or a verb? Is than a preposition or a conjuction?
Consider the word such. Which lexical category would you assign this word
to? Provide further instances of intersective gradience.

3. Account for the truthfulness or falsity of the following statement: Polisemic
copula verbs can be use to express kinds of transition from one state into
another, serving as a dynamic counterpart of a corresponding static verb.

4. Turn the following sentences into the negative and comment upon the
syntactic and semantic aspects of negation:
a. It may rain.
b. Mary must have missed the train.
c. He was dishonest and merciless.
d. Mary woke up and so did I.

5. Provide examples of intransitive verbs that allow Passivization.


1. Account for the use of much and many as Negative Polarity Items.
2. Identify the types of interrogative sentences and name some of their syntactic
a. Has he been running?
b. Whose signature was faked?
c. Nobody cares, do they?
d. So, you quite dislike your step-father!
Dislike him? I hate him!
e. Is he sleeping, reading or talking on the phone?

3. Analyse the predication in the following sentences:
a. This book reads well.
b. We put the cheese in the fridge.
c. Mary weighs 183 pounds.
d. Your mother is so fond of coffee.

4. Analyse the following constructions in Binding terms:
a. David threw himself onto the sofa.
b. Sally talked to John about himself.
c. Sally talked to John about him.
d. She helped herself with another slice of cake.
e. Maggie pointed at her in the mirror.
f. Maggie pointed at herself in the mirror.


1. Account for the difference between the following thematic roles:
a. Location Source;
b. Agent Experiencer;
c. Stimulus Percept.

2. Discuss the structure of the following Noun Phrases and draw the
corresponding tree diagrams:
a. direct exchanges between candidates
b. failure of institutions on Wall Street
c. quite rapidly changing decisions of the Government
d. some very clever remarks

3. Explain and exemplify the Trace Movement Principle.

4. Discuss the nature of ambiguity in the sentences below:
a. Mary may look tired when the guests will come.
b. Your novel must be very interesting.
c. Clark will run down the new road.
d. The criminals turned out 7 apartments each week.

5. Make up sentences according to the patterns:
a. subject + [MOD] + [PERF] + [PASS] + see
b. subject + [TENSE, present] + [PROG] + read + adjunct
c. subject + [TENSE, past] + [PERF] + catch + direct object + adjunct


1. Discuss the concept of Inflection in the following instances:
a. prayers c. wrote
b. higher d. The researcher discovered some policy gaps.

2. Explain the principles that lie at the basis of the following transformations:
a. They offered some money to my uncle.
a. They offered my uncle some money.

b. Some people are smoking in the living room.
b. There are some people smoking in the living room.

c. The tide floated the raft.
c. The raft floated.

3. Analyse the predications and specify the type and the syntactic functions of the
internal arguments of the verbs in the following sentences:
a. Inflation threatens many peoples jobs.
b. They must have used a rope.
c. The guest-speaker provided further details on the topic.
d. Our neighbours refurnished the kitchen.

4. Read Chomskys statement below and try to answer the question:
We assume that the language (the generative procedure, the I-language) has two
components: a computational system and a lexicon. The first generates the form of SDs; the
second characterizes the lexical items that appear in them. (Chomsky, 1995: 20)
How do these systems interact?



Aarts, Bas (2008) English Syntax and Argumentation, PALGRAVE
Academia Romana, Institutul de lingvistica Iorgu Iordan Al. Rosetti, Gramatica
limbii romane, I, Cuvntul, Editura Academiei Romane, 2005
Alexander, L.G. (1991) Longman English Grammar, Longman Group UK
Limited, London
Black, Cheryl A. (1999) A step-by-step introduction to the Government and
Binding theory of syntax, Summer Institute of Linguistics.
Blake, Barry J. (1994) Case, CUP
British National Corpus. Retrieved 30th September 2008.
Budai, Lszl (1999) Gramatica engleza. Teorie si exercitii, Teora
Burton-Roberts, N. (1998) Analysing Sentences, New York: Longman
Chomsky, N. (1965) Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press
Chomsky, N. (1981) Lectures on government and binding, Dordrecht: Foris
Chomsky, N. (1986) Barriers, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.
Chomsky, N. (1995) The Minimalist Program, Cambridge, Mass., London:
M.I.T. Press
Cornilescu, Alexandra (1982) English Syntax 2, TUB
Cornilescu, Alexandra (1996) Concepts of Modern Grammar. A Generative
Grammar Perspective, Editura Universitatii Bucuresti.
Cornilescu, Alexandra (2004) Complementation in English. A Minimalist Approach,
Editura Universitatii din Bucuresti
Coseriu, E. (1976) Das Romanische Verbalsystem, Tuebingen: Narr
Fillmore, C.J. (1968) The case for case. In E. Bach & R.T.Harms (eds), Universals in
linguistic theory, 1-88, London: Holt, Rinehart & Winston
Goldberg, Adele E. (1995) Constructions. A Construction Grammar Approach to
Argument Structure, University of Chicago Press
Grimshaw, J. (1990) Argument structure, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press
Gruber (1965) Studies in lexical relations. Doctoral dissertation, MIT
Hjelmslev, L. (1928) Principes de grammaire gnrale et raisone, Copenhague
Horn, L.R., Kato, Y. (2000) Introduction: Negation and Polarity at the Millenium. In
Horn and Kato (eds) Studies in Negation and Polarity, Oxford University Press,
Jackendoff, R. (1990) Semantic structures, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press
Jacobs, R. (1995) English Syntax. A Grammar for English Language
Professionals, OUP
Kim, J.B., Sells, P. (2007) English Syntax: an Introduction, Center for the Study of
Language and Information
Klima (1964) Negation in English. In J.A.Fodor and J.J.Katz, eds., Readings in the
philosophy of language, Englewood Cliffs, N.Y.: Prentice-Hall
Ladusaw, W. (1980) Polarity Sensitivity as Inherent Scope relations, Garland Press,
Lawler, John (2008) Negation and Negative Polarity in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of
the Language Sciences
Leech, G.N. (1983) Principles of Pragmatics. London: Longman
Lyons, John (1977) Semantics, CUP
Martinez, Ignacio M. Palacios (1999) Negative polarity idioms in Modern English,
ICAME Journal No. 23, 65-115
Neagu Maria-Ionela (2008) Ergativity an Essential Structure in the Assignment of
Thematic Roles, Buletinul UPG, Ploiesti, seria Filologie, nr.1/2008, p. 93-98
Neagu Maria-Ionela (2008) From Transformational Grammar to the Minimalist
Approach: structure, meaning and function, Buletinul UPG, Ploiesti, seria
Filologie, nr. 1/2008, p. 99-104
Pinker, S. (1989) Learnability and Cognition: The Acquisition of Argument Structure,
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
Pollock, J.-Y. (1989) Verb movement, Universal Grammar, and the structure of IP.
Linguistic Inquiry 20, 365-424
Quirk, R.S.Greenbaum, G. Leech and J.Svartvik (1972) A Grammar of Contemporary
English, Seminar Press, London
Radford, Andrew (1988) Transformational Grammar, CUP
Radford, Andrew (2003) English Syntax: an Introduction, CUP
Reinhart, T. (1976) The syntactic domain of anaphora, Doctoral dissertation, MIT
Roberts, Paul, (1968) Modern Grammar, New York: Harcourt, Brace & World Inc.
Sailer, M. (1995) Complement Anaphora and Negative Polarity Items, in Proceedings
of Sinn und Bedeutung 11, E. Puig-Waldmller (ed), Barcelona: Universitat
Pompeu Fabra, pp. 494-508
Serban, Domnica (1984) English Syntax 1, TUB.
Serban, D., Hatgan, R., Moisescu, D. (2002) English Syntax Workbook, Editura
Fundatiei Romnia de Mine
Side Richard, Wellman Guy (2002) Grammar and Vocabulary for Cambridge
Advanced and Proficiency, Longman
Tallerman, Maggie (1998) Understanding Syntax, Arnold Publishers
Thomas, Linda (1993) Beginning Syntax, Blackwell
Van Valin, Robert, J. LaPolla, Randy (1997) Syntax. Structure, meaning and function.
Zanuttini, R. (1997) Negation and Clausal Structure. A Comparative Study of Romance
Languages, Oxford University Press