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King Abdulaziz University

Department of European Languages & Literature

Syntax (LANE-334)

Chapter 3
Functions
Dr. Abdulrahman Alqurashi
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Categories vs. Functions


Each constituent (i.e. syntactic unit) belongs
to a specific grammatical category and serves
a specific grammatical function.
Grammatical categories can be:
Nouns (N), Verbs (V), Adjectives (Adj), Adverbs
(Adv) , Prepositions (P) , Complementizers (C)etc .
Grammatical functions can be:
Subjects (Sub), Specifiers (spec), Predicate (pre),
Direct Object (DO), Indirect Object (IDO), Head,
Adjunct, Complements etc .
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Introduction
Consider the following:
1. [S [NPThe boy] [VP read [NP the diary.]]]
2. [S [NP He] [VP laughed.]]
3. [S [NP He] [VP turned [NP a page.]]]
4. [S [NP He] [VP leaned [PP towards the German girl.]]]
5. [S [NP He] [VP said [NP few words] [PP to her.]]]
Each of the above clauses contains two main
constituents: a NP (Subject) and VP (predicate)
S
NP - VP
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The verb and its complements


Subcategorization frames for verbs:
Verb types

Frames

Examples

Intransitive

[VP ]

He laughed

Copula

[VP { AdjP ,NP or PP}]

He seems [AdjP very sad]

Monotransitive

[VP { NP / S} ]

He killed [NP the mouse]

Ditransitive

[VP {NP- NP / NP-PP}]

He gave [ NP the girl][NP a book]

Complex transitive

[VP NP -{AdjP / NP}]

He called [NP him][AdjP fool]

Intransitive +PP

[VP PP ]

He leaned [PP towards the girl]

Transitive +PP

[VP NP - PP]

He put [NP the cup][PP on the table]

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The verb and its complements


The verb may contain more that one word like:
e.g. He went out.
e.g. He gave up alcohol.
go out [VP ]
gave up [VP NP ]

Intransitive verb
Monotransitive verb

These are known as phrasal verbs

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Grammatical functions in S
Subject is the function related to the constituent
introducing the sentence.

e.g. [S [ NP the boy] [VP was reading]]

S
NP

VP

The boy

was reading

How do we identify the subject in a sentence?


NPs functioning as Subjects invert with the first
auxiliary in question formation (Sub-Aux Inversion):
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Grammatical functions in S
- Subject
Examples:
A. The boy was reading
B. Was the boy reading?
Subjects of finite clause agree with the first auxiliary
or with the main verb if there is no auxiliary.
Examples:
A. The boy was reading
B. The boys were laughing
C. The boy reads a story everyday.
D. The boys read a story everyday.
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Grammatical functions in S
- Subject
Subject NPs can be replaced by a pronoun in the
subjective form but not in the objective form.
Examples:
A. The boy was reading.
B. He was reading.
C. * him was reading.

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Grammatical functions in S
Predicate is the part of a sentence or clause that contains
a verb and states something about the subject.

e.g. [S [ NP the boy] [VP was reading]]

S
NP

VP

The boy

was reading

There are some kind of predicative function


inside VP (We will deal with this later)
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Grammatical functions in S
Adjunct is a word or phrase that constitutes an optional

element or is considered of secondary importance in a sentence.


Adjuncts fall outside the two major constituents NP and VP

Sentence adjuncts are of two types:


Adverbs that specify speaker's attitude toward the rest of the
sentence (e.g. unfortunately, certainly, in my view, in fact)
Unfortunately, the match was canceled because of bad weather.
The match was canceled because of bad weather, unfortunately.
Items which serve to connect sentences in a text (e.g. yet,
moreover, however, nevertheless,)
John had planned to swim across the Channel last year. However,
when the time came he did not have the courage.
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Grammatical functions in VP
1. Predicative complement
Predicative Complement (PC) ascribes some properties to the
subject.
This function is realized by NPs, AdjPs or PPs.
The verb that selects such a complement belongs to the class of
copulas (be, look, seem, etc.).
The constituent that has a grammatical function of Predicative
complement is obligatory after the verb.
Examples:
i. Jane seemed [NP a good student].
ii. John looked [AdjP foolish ] in that tracksuit.
iii. Bill was [ PP in a bad mood].
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Grammatical functions in VP
The Predicative complement agrees with the subject NP:
a) She is an actress.
b) They are actresses.

2. Direct object: is the grammatical function related to the


complement of monotransitive, ditransitive, and transitive
verbs.
Direct object is obligatorily selected by the verb.
Examples:
I. Ahmad was folding [NP the magazine] [PP for the second
time].
II. The snake killed [NP the rat ].
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Grammatical functions in VP
How do we identify the direct object in a sentence?
a NP functioning as an object becomes the Subjects of the
passive sentence:
[NP The rat ] was killed (by the snake).

3. Indirect object: is the grammatical function related to

the complement of ditransitive verbs.


Indirect objects are realized by an NP preceding Direct objects
Indirect objects can be replaced by a PP.
Indirect objects are obligatorily selected by the verb.
Examples:
She gave[NP the boy] [NP some chocolates].

She gave[NP some chocolates] [PP to the boy].


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Grammatical functions in VP
4. Adverbial Complement (Ac) with intransitive V:
It is related to the complement of (intransitive verbs +PP).
It is realized by a PP or an AdvP .
It gives information concerning the place, manner, time,
duration, etc.
It is obligatorily selected by the verb.
Examples:
a) The newspaper remained [PP with Mr. Ellis] [PP for two hours]
b) He is [PP in London]
c) The women remained [AdvP upstairs]

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Grammatical functions in VP
5. Adverbial Complement (Ac) with transitive V:
It is related to the complement of (transitive verbs +PP).

It is realized by a PP or an AdvP that follows the direct object.


It gives information concerning location and manner etc.
It is obligatorily selected by the verb.
Examples:
a) John put [NP the money] [PP in the box].

b) John put [NP the money] [AdvP upstairs]


c) He worded [NP the letter] [AdvP very carefully.]
d) The children reminded [NP me] [PP of their grandfather].
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Grammatical functions in VP
6.Complex Function: Predicative complement +
Adverbial Complement:
It is related to the complement of complex transitive verbs.
It is realized by an AdjP or an NP that follows the direct object.
Examples:
Adverbial

a) The government set [NP the prisoners] [AdjP free].


Predicative

The constituent following the direct object has both a


predicative complement function (because it predicates
something of the direct object) and an adverbial complement
function (because it also narrows down the meaning of the verb).
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Grammatical functions in VP
6.Complex Function: Predicative complement +
Adverbial Complement:
Adverbial

she called [NP him] [AdjP crazy].


Predicative

b) She called [NP her baby] [NP George].


c) They called [NP him] [AdjP crazy].
The constituents following the direct object has both predicative
complement function (because they predicate something of the
direct object) and Adverbial complement function (because they
also narrow down the meaning of the verb).
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Assignment
Q: What is the grammatical category and the
grammatical function of each word in the
following sentences:

The doctor put her on a diet.


They left the door open.
The room is in a mess.
He destroyed all the magazines.
This song gives me a headache.
He lives in Paris.
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Adjuncts and Complements


Complements are necessary for the grammaticality of the
sentence but not adjuncts.
Consider the following examples:
The doctor put [NP the girl] [PP on a diet].
The verb put requires two complements:
The direct object: [NP the girl]
The adverbial complement: [PP on a diet].
Now consider this example:
Last year the doctor reluctantly put [NP the girl] [PP on a diet]
because she was overweight.
All the items in green are adjuncts because they do not affect
the grammaticality of the sentence if they are deleted.
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Adjuncts and Complements


VP Adjuncts:
Verb phrases may have adverbial adjunct or predicative
adjunct.
Adverbial adjuncts such as:
John [VP walked [AdvP slowly] [PP down the road ]].

Mary [VP helped James [PP in the airport] [PP on Sunday]].

Adverbial and Predicative adjuncts such as:


Adverbial

They [VP have painted [ NP the house] [AdjP red ]]


Predicative

She [VP married [AdjP young ]].


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Complex sentences: function of clauses


Finite Clauses
A subject or an object may be realized not only by a
NP but also by a clause such as:
[S [NP He] [ VP decided [CP that he should never meet him again]]]
[S [NP He] [ VP felt [CP that he should apologize to his friend]]]
The CPs [that he should ....] function as the direct objects of the
verbs in the above sentences.

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Complex sentences: function of clauses


S
NP
PRN

VP
V

CP
C

He
He

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felt
that
decided that

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he should apologize
he should never

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Complex sentences: function of clauses


Nonfinite Clauses
Compare the following examples:

[S [NP He] [ VP believes [S that the prisoner is innocent ]]]


The above bracketed clause is finite.
[S [NP He] [ VP believes [S the prisoner to be innocent ]]]
The above bracketed clause is Nonfinite.

The S [the prisoner to be innocent] functions as the direct object


of the verb believe.

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Complex sentences: function of clauses


Nonfinite Clauses (Verbless clauses):
[S [NP He] [ VP believes [S the prisoner to be innocent ]]]:
The above bracketed clause can have a reduced form
like
[S [NP He] [ VP believes [S the prisoner innocent ]]]
The S [the prisoner innocent] is called verbless clause.
It should be labelled [S]
[S [NP He] [ VP believes [S [NP the prisoner ] [AdjP innocent]]]
It is treated as a clause because there is a predicate
relationship between the NP the prisoner and the AdjP
innocent.
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It functions as the direct
object
of the verb believe.
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Grammatcal functions in phrases


Noun phrases:
Function Specifier Pre-modifier
Category
(Det )
(AdjP)
Example The five
French
s

Head
Noun
students

Post-modifier
(PP)
from Paris

Verb phrases:
Function

Specifier

Head

Category

Model

Verb

NP

NP

(PP)

Example
s

will

show

the girl

the paintings

after dinner

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Complements

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Adjunct

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Grammatcal functions in phrases


Adjective phrases:
Function
Category

Specifier
(Adv )
[Adv very]
Example [ extremely]
Adv
s
[Adv extremely]

Head
Adj
[Adj fond]
[Adj worried]
[Adj afraid]

Complement
PP/S
[PP of her]
[PP about his future]
[S that she might die]

Adverb phrases:
Function

Specifier

Head

Category

(Adv)

Adverb

Examples

[Adv very]
[Adv extremely]

[Adv recently]
[Adv slowly]

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Grammatcal functions in phrases


Prepositional phrases:
Function

Specifier

Head

Complements

Category

(Adv ) / (NP)

preposition

NP

[P on]
[P before]

[NP the spot]


[NP his arrival]

Examples

[NP

[Adv right]
two minutes]

General representation for all types of phrases:


X-Phrase: Specifier Head Complement {Modifier/Adjunct}
X
X stands for any category such as N, V, etc
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What to do next week


Read chapter 4.
Prepare for your mid-term exam

See you next week.

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