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2nd year, 1st term

Author and Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Domnica Serban


The course supplies the description of categories and functions at the syntactic level of the Simple

Sentence. After introducing essentials of the theoretical frame in the preliminary lectures, we focus on the

syntactic categories sentence and phrase, whose properties and possible representations are discussed in terms

of the Government and Binding Model, also known as Universal Grammar. The second part of the course is a

detailed account of verb subcategorisation that provides a thorough picture of the syntactic behaviour and

logico-semantic features of intransitives and transitives in the Lexicon of English.

The course addresses the 2nd year(1st term) students whom we recommend to refresh their knowledge

of basic linguistic concepts having as a main source the Lingvistica Generala course covered in the 1st year.

For the central and final parts the students have to go through The Syntax of English Predications (2006), by

Domnica Serban and English Syntax Workbook (2004) by D. Serban, R. HaŃagan and D. Dragusin.

Course Objectives:

The course aims at making the students familiar with the conceptual apparatus relevant for the

description and explanation of categories, relations and functions at the syntactic level focusing on the Simple

Sentence. The theoretical frame will enable our students to better grasp the constituent structure of English

Sentences (Ss) and Phrases (Ps), helping them to correctly identify constituents and functions in English

syntax. The central lectures will make them aware of the typology of predications in English, which represents

the basis for the adequate sentence construction and use in daily contexts.

Contents of the Course

I.Theoretical Preliminaries

Basic linguistic concepts relevant to the study of Syntax

We shall supply below a selection of basic linguistic concepts that belong to linguistic theory (LT), being

indispensable for the students' comprehension of English syntax issues. Part of these notions have already

been acquired by our students, therefore they only need refreshment:

1. Linguistic levels (including the basic units at each level, their formal and semantic properties, their

dependency relations, their functional status). The components of linguistics which are concerned with the

description of each level and corresponding unit will be specified for each level. Out of these the student has

covered so far Phonetics and Phonology (1st year, 1st term) and Inflectional Morphology (1st year, 1st and 2nd

terms, respectively).

i. The phonological level: The student is required to revise the definition of the phoneme and the

allophone, distinctive features etc., as well as the brief outline of the Object of Phonology;

ii. The morphological level: The student should revise the definition of the morpheme, its classification

into free and bound, into inflectional and derivational, the relationship between the morpheme and the word,

the object of Morphology and its subdivision into Inflectional Morphology (dealing with the grammatical

categories pertaining to the parts of speech) and Derivational Morphology (classical Lexicology - Word


iii. The syntactic level is concerned with the description of the units Phrase (P) and Sentence (S) as

constructions or groups of constituents round a head/nucleus and with the internal phrase structure of Noun

Phrases (NPs), Verb Phrases (VPs), Prepositional Phrases (PPs), Adjectival Phrases (APs), Adverbial

Phrases (AvPs);

iv. The logico-semantic level deals with logical propositions, logical predicates and arguments,

argument structures, thematic roles; semantic features and semantic fields.

Between the four levels there are strong correlations. The ones that interest us most in syntax occur

between the syntactic level and the logico-semantic one.


i. syntactic categories are terms referring to groups/clusters such as the phrase and the sentence

(S), hence Grammars that take as primes phrasal constituents are considered to be categorial;

ii. lexical categories coincide with the classes of lexical items (words), such as Nouns, Verbs,

Adjectives, and Adverbs which are 'meaningful';

iii. functional categories refer to the items whose role is mainly 'grammatical', like Inflection,

Determiner and Degree Adverb;

iv. grammatical categories pertain to the word classes/parts-of-speech, e.g. the verbal categories

of Mood, Tense, Aspect, the nominal categories of Person, Number, Gender, the category of

Comparison with Adjectives and Adverbs.

Notice that the categories above form a hierarchy, with syntactic categories on top.

3.Syntactic relations regard the inter-relations between the constituents of phrases and sentences, including

the relations of predication, government, modification, determination, quantification.

4.Syntactic functions are discharged by constituents, being determined by their position/distribution in

phrases/sentences; they are marked by inflections or prepositions, or both, depending on the language type.

The main functions are universal: Subject of the S, Predicate, Direct Object, Indirect Object, Prepositional

Object, Noun Modifier (the classical Attribute), Adverbial Modifier.

Notice that functions, like categories, also form a hierarchy.

For brief definitions and reminders of concepts like Linguistic Theory (LT), Competence and

Performance, Classical Analytical Structuralism (CAS), Synthetic Structuralism etc., see English Syntax

Workbook, section Inventory of Theoretical Concepts, pp. 31-36.

II.Defining Grammars

The definition of Grammar (G) depends on the goals, frame and addressee of each G approach. We can

distinguish between theoretical Gs, based on models, and pedagogical Gs set up for teaching/learning goals.

Another criterion is the nature of the grammarian's ultimate goal, which can be either a) prescriptive (of

norms) or b) descriptive of speaker's internalized, "tacit knowledge" of language, currently labelled as

Competence. The former characterizes pedagogical grammars that teach Standard Language norms and usage,

the latter holds good for theoretical Gs, which are tentative descriptions of the grammatical competence we all

possess as a mental store.

Data Coverage: irrespective of the presence or absence of a theoretical frame, Gs cover the data

pertaining to morphology and syntax. The data consist of individual items and phrases which make up the

corpus subject to analysis and description.

A. Survey of G approaches

i. Traditional G is pre-theoretical (based on no model), and prescriptive; it focuses on L particulars,

exceptions included. Traditional Grammar defines its concepts (e.g. the parts of speech) in terms of extralinguistic

entities, rather than linguistic properties (the "notional bias").

ii. Structural G comprises:

a) Early structuralism or Classical Analytical Structuralism (CAS), resorted to analytical procedures

such as Immediate Constituent Analysis; its main goals were the identification and classification of formal

units; CAS only described one level of syntactic structure, the surface linear string, paying no attention to its

correlative meaning interpretation.

Failures of CAS:

1. to analyse/describe syntactic homonymy /ambiguity: one surface string has at least two semantic

interpretations, e.g. Walking patients can be dangerous.;

2. to analyse/describe syntactic synonymy: several distinct surface strings are underlain by one semantic

interpretation, e.g. The boss turned down the offer. / He turned the offer down. / The offer was turned down.;

3. to analyse discontinuous constituents, e.g. Whom did you talk to? (discontinuity of questioned Indirect


4. to analyse missing constituents, e.g. Stop complaining! (missing 'you' - Subject in Imperative Ss);

5. to analyse non-binary structures, e.g. Tristram, Brian and Andrew were quarrelling about

trifles.(Compound Subject).

b) Late structuralism or Synthetic Structuralism was best represented by the Standard Generative

Transformational Model (GT) (based on Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, launched by Noam Chomsky in

1965). It is a model of Competence, postulating two levels of syntactic structure: Deep Structure and Surface

Structure. The student should try to reconsider the Ss above, which illustrate the 4 failures, and see how the

problems of S constituency and meaning appear from the perspective of Deep and Surface Structure.

The concept of Grammar has been revisited in the last three decades. Here is a tentative

definition suggested by Noam Chomsky in his Lectures on Government and Binding (1981):

"Grammar is an account of the way representations of form associate with representations of meaning

While classical Gs were biased for meaning-based definitions and, on the other hand, early structuralists

manifested a strong neglect of semantic aspects, in the above-mentioned definition form and meaning appear

to be closely correlated, so that logical and semantic elements come to be integrated into Syntax.

Deep Structure (DS) is a phrase structure representation of the basic, underlying syntactic configuration

which is interpreted semantically by rules of the semantic component.

Surface Structure (SS) is the linear concatenation of lexical items and grammatical formatives which,

after processing by phonological rules, is ready to be performed (SS is produced by transformations).

Transformations are meaning-preserving structural operations (deletion, movement, insertion,

substitution). They are relations holding between phrase markers, therefore, they are relations between

intermediate descriptions of sentences.

For instance, the sentence 'The pavilion has been redecorated by Brian.' represents the surface

structure of a passive S, which is underlain by the simpler active string 'Brian has redecorated the pavilion.'.

The latter is, therefore, considered the deep structure of the former. It has been obtained by a

transformation called Passivisation which consists of movement and insertion operations (the deep Subject

has moved in final S position becoming a Prepositional Object of Agent; the deep Object has moved to the

Subject position; auxiliary BE and the past participle marker -en have been attached to the predicate). Despite

the rearrangement of S constituents the meaning is roughly the same. Both Ss refer to the same activity

(redecorate) performed by an Agent (Brian) and undergone by a Patient (the pavilion). The Object of Agent

becomes an optional constituent, an Adjunct, which can be deleted under certain conditions, in the context of


B. Generative Transformational Grammar (GTG). Grammaticality.

1.1. GTG is a model of Competence, of our 'internalised grammar'. It describes the definite set of rules by

means of which an infinite number of grammatical sentences are generated and possibly transformed. Like

any other model, GTG is a hypothetical construct, an approximate description which can be further improved

and completed.

The system of rules for S generation and transformation, representing our abstract knowledge of language,

enables us to produce grammatical, well-formed Ss. The property of grammaticality or well-formedness is

gradable. We can establish degrees of grammaticality, depending on how serious the violation of rules for S

generation has been. For instance: *Bob sits up often late (with the Av often misplaced) is more grammatical

than: **Bob sits often late up ( where the two Avs are placed in between the V and its Particle). This is in turn

more grammatical than *** Sit often up late Bob, which violates several rules of word order, as well as the

rule for Agreement.

1.2. Universal Grammar (UG) as Theoretical Frame

In order to supply a thorough description of English verb classes/subcategories we shall have to place

predicating items and phrases in the larger context of the Grammar construct we have chosen as FRAME.

This is mainly based on the Theory of Government and Binding (Chomsky 1981) (3) the major outcome of

th century generative linguistics. The latter which was inaugurated by the earliest version of a generative

grammar, known as the Standard Model of Generative Transformational Grammar (Chomsky 1965). In

between these two landmarks in time there was a succession of variants representing refinements and

improvements of the initial Standard theory.

Chomsky's 1981 proposals, labelled for short as the GB Theory, came to also be referred to as the

Universal Grammar (UG) model or the Principles and Parameter (P&P) Theory. These two alternative labels

have been determined by the basic assumptions of the model concerning:

a) the universally shared properties of natural languages which form invariant systems

b) the particular properties of natural languages representing cross-linguistic differences, possibly described

as variables

The UG theory captures both aspects under the form of very general principles/subtheories that account for

the universal properties and sets of parameters for the language specific ones.

1. 2. Cross-linguistic Principles as Invariants

Universally valid principles regard the properties and mechanisms that apply cross-linguistically, that

is to all natural languages. They actually represent language invariant universals, the quest of which was the

goal of classical analytical structuralism (CAS) (2)

Within its comprehensive frame UG establishes a set of general principles that operate in all

languages. Take, for instance the headedness principle, according to which all constituents of the type

PHRASE (representing maximal syntactic groups made up of smaller constituents) obligatorily include a head

or nucleus. This head, be it a Noun (N), a Verb (V), an Adjective (A) , an Adverb (Av) or a Preposition (P) is

the most important element of the whole construction, the one that further selects a complement. The cluster

formed by a head and its complement(s) represents the major syntactic category called PHRASE. Here are

examples of the main Phrase types in English: essay on friendship (Noun Phrase /NP)), write an application

(Verb Phrase / VP), uncommonly beautiful (Adjectival Phrase / AP), very early ( Adverbial Phrase / AvP),

into the garage (Prepositional Phrase / PP).

In its turn, the headedness principle is based on another universal principle, according to which

language is structured, i.e. hierarchically organized. Indeed, irrespective of the language type or family,

languages are analyzable as structured linguistic codes, rather than as sequences of items, simply following or

preceding each other. Thus, linguists have discovered that the sentence, which is almost universally the basic

unit of language, analyzable as a binary constituent structure: the concatenation of a Subject Noun Phrase

with a Predicate Verb Phrase. The order of the two constituents varies parametrically, depending on the word

order type each language belongs to (Subject-Verb-Object, Subject-Object-Verb, Verb-Subject-Object etc.),

but sentential structure always includes these immediate constituents.

Knowledge of the universal principles is a component of the mental store we are all born with. The

child possesses UG as an initial state. It is a cognitive faculty like many others, the language faculty we are

all endowed with. This faculty functions as a language acquisition device. The general principles form the

initial state that represents a common cognitive fund shared by all human beings and making language

acquisition possible.

1. 3. Parameters as Variables

The moment the child is exposed to language experience in a given speech community, the language

faculty it possesses innately is activated and a particular language is gradually and unconsciously acquired.

The result is not a unique language spoken by people all over the world, but a particular language, with a

certain properties that lend it specificity. The general principles do operate, but they coexist with a set of

parameters whose value is fixed distinctly by linguistic experience.

The hypothesis of parametric variation across languages proves to hold if we resort to language

specific phenomena and data. We have already seen that all sentences and phrases are structured, sharing

elements like the head (of a phrase) or the Subject and Predicate (of a sentence). However, word order is

subject to parametric variation: languages can be subdivided into head-first (like English) and head-last (like


The expression of the Subject in surface structure occurs obligatorily in languages like English,

German and French, while Romanian and Italian allow the dropping/omission of the Subject in sentential

contexts where the inflection signals the person and number referred to. This division into two groups of

languages from the point of view of the presence or possible/allowed absence of the Subject is captured by the

above-mentioned theory through the so-called 'pro-drop' parameter. By way of illustration compare the

English and Romanian sentential structures below in point of the presence or absence of the Subject in surface

structure and of the way it is expressed (if any):

a. I was wearing a top hat and tails at the car show.

b. Purtam joben si frac la expozi ia de masini.

a. It was drizzling.

b. Burni a.

a. It was necessary that urgent steps should be taken.

b. Era necesar sa se ia masuri urgente.

a. There were three apple-trees in the middle of the orchard.

b. Erau trei meri n mijlocul livezii.

The contexts above illustrate several situations in which the Romanian Subject is null, while the

English one is expressed in surface structure. In (1)-a the 'I' Subject is obligatorily present in English,

otherwise the sentence would be incorrect (ungrammatical/ill-formed): *Was wearing. In (1)-b there is no

expressed Subject, but person and number reference to the deep-structure Subject 'eu' is recovered by means

of the inflection marker on the Imperfect form of the Predicate, which is placed initially. In sentence (2)-a

expressing a weather phenomenon, English fills the Subject position by an "impersonal it", while the

Romanian version in (2)-b is subjectless. In (3)-a another type of "it", labelled as anticipatory has been

inserted as surface filler of the Subject of the main clause. This 'it' anticipates the Subject Clause that urgent

steps should be taken, so that we come to have two Subjects in the respective complex sentence (the

corresponding Romanian equivalent of the latter term is "fraza ). The Romanian equivalent in (4)-b only

includes the extraposed Subject Clause.

In (4)-a the dummy Subject ,there' is used to occupy the Subject position, while the actual 'deep' or

'logical' Subject - "three apple-trees"- is placed after the existential verb BE. In (4)-b the initial position is

unoccupied, we only identify the deep Subject in post-verbal position.

The pro-drop parameter allows all the five contexts in Romanian to go without a surface subject,

which is disallowed in a language like English, French or German.

In conclusion, the P&P frame is quite advantageous for such cross-linguistic analyses, in that the

universal principles take care of identical or similar phenomena, while the parameters explain languagespecific


2. The Organization of Grammar

The reader endowed with a linguistic grounding is likely to remember that model-based grammars,

like the generative-transformational grammar, have a precise internal organization. This is of particular

interest to us, as we shall be concerned with an important 'slice' of the Lexicon, the one including all the

verbs in English, as well as part of the adjectives, i.e. those that can realize predication.

Like GT Grammar, the present model has got a 'foundation layer', a BASE. This Base is made up of:

a) The LEXICON, which is the (ideally) complete list or inventory of the words/lexical items in the

respective language. Being similar to a dictionary, it is conceived as having lexical entries which

contain all the information necessary for the correct insertion/use of lexical items in the structures

derived according to the rules operating in the syntax of the respective language. For each and every

word the Lexicon indicates the set of phonological, syntactic and semantic properties that are specific

to the respective item. Besides, the information about a predicating item includes its argument

structure which is marked for the thematic roles it co-occurs with. Reconsider our analysis of

sentences (1) c and d as illustration of activity verbs which differ in point of number and notional

status of the arguments they take: giggle is a one-argument verb, an intransitive that takes an Agent

role in Subject position, while pick is a two-argument verb, therefore a transitive verb that takes an

external Agent as Subject and a Patient as Direct Object. The thematic roles marking the arguments

form the 'theta-grid' of the respective item, its thematic structure.

For a more detailed account of the type of information conveyed by the Lexicon see section 6.

b) The SYNTAX or categorial component whose rules operate on syntactic and lexical categories so as

to produce well-formed syntactic configurations. These are represented as basic, underlying DStructures.

This level of representation roughly corresponds to the Standard concept of 'deep

structure', by which Chomsky used to mean, within the GT frame, the underlying syntactic structure

upon which sentential meaning is determined. Indeed at this level, the syntactic and lexical features of

verbal items are projected from the Lexicon. Besides, the thematic structure of the verb, its theta-grid,

is also projected on the D-Structure. This component contains rules that constrain the formation of

sentences and govern the way thematic (theta) roles are assigned to the appropriate arguments taken

by the verb. They also harmonize the grammatical relations whose core is the verb with the proper

theta-marked positions to be occupied by the arguments expressed by nominals (NPs).

An essential subcomponent of the Base is the X-bar theory of syntactic representation, a theory

according to which the main linguistic entities / objects /units in a language at the level of syntax, i.e.

the Phrases, are projected as endocentric constructions. This means that the representation of such

groups has to observe certain (restricted) combinatorial formulae, sharing one common structural

property - that of having a head or nucleus round which the other Phrase constituents are distributed.

In principle this obligatory head is represented as X (e.g. the Noun in a Noun Phrase, The Adjective

in a Adjectival Phrase etc.), it being possibly preceded by a Specifier (Spec) and followed by a

Complement. The position of these neighbouring constituents is a variable which depends on the word

order type of the respective language. In English the Spec is placed to the left of the head, while the

Complement occupies the right hand position as to the same head. (e.g. the Adjectival Phrase quite

afraid of snakes is analysable into the head afraid, preceded by the Specifier (Degree Adverb) quite

and followed by a Prepositional Phrase in Complement position)

c) The SYNTAX also includes a transformational component general rule of movement - Move-

This rule can move a constituent (of any syntactic structure) to a position which already exists at the

D-Structure, being, therefore available at the respective stage of derivation. The moved constituent

leaves behind a trace - t co-indexed with dislocated element. Here is how half-passive or middle

constructions like:

a. This linen washes well.

b. Dust brushes easily.

get formed by movement of the D-Structure NP functioning as Direct Object (theta-marked for the

role Patient) to the empty [e] position of Subject of the whole sentence:

D-Structure: Move S-Structure

[e] washes this linen well---------- This lineni washes ti well

[e] brush dust easily --------- Dusti brushes ti easily

The moved constituent and the trace form a chain of co-indexed elements, with the difference that

the trace, which has become part of the S-Structure lacks a phonetic shape.

S-Structure is slightly different from the Standard notion of surface structure in that it plays an important part

in the semantic interpretation of sentences.

S-Structure is subject to further processing by two other levels: one is the level of Phonological Form

- PF, the other on is the level of Logical Form - LF. Here is a schematic picture of the organization of this







(PF) (LF)

The Phonological Form level provides information which is relevant to the articulatory system, as well as to

the intonational rules. The Logical Form level supplies the semantic interpretation of grammatical structure,

mainly in terms of argument structures.

B. Subcategorization Rules and the Lexicon

The Base also includes rules which secure the division/partition of the lexical categories into smaller

subcategories that share a set of features. Thus, by applying these rules we can group together countable Ns

versus uncountable ones, or transitive Verbs versus intransitive ones. The features that determine this

subdivision can be of two kinds:

1. inherent (e.g. [+/-animate], [+/-human] etc. for Nouns, [+/-state] for Verbs); they are of semantic

nature and have grammatical relevance; they are context-free features;

2. non-inherent, contextual (context-sensitive/bound); in their turn they result from the application of

two types of rules:

a.Strict subcategorization specifies the context in which the lexical category occurs; the

subcategorization frame (indicated by a pair of square brackets) includes the categorial feature of the lexical

item we describe, followed by the syntactic categories selected as neighbours to the left or to the right, the

dash shows the position of the item we refer to, as in the examples below:

Nouns: [+N, + Det__ ], valid for Ns in NPs like that guy

the street

my friends

( Art) steel

( Art) trees

Verbs: [+ V, + __ NP, to/for NP], valid for dative Verbs like:

to hand (roses to a girl)

to send (a letter to one's mother)

to buy (a dictionary for James)

to cook (a pizza for the guests)

The frame for Nouns indicates the left-hand specifier position (usually occupied by Determiners), the

frame for Verbs (in this case transitives) indicates the right-hand complement position where we find 'sister'

constituents like simple or clausal NPs functioning as Direct Objects, e.g. John met Helen or John thought

that Helen was single.

Other subcategorial features for Vs can be specified by the following frames: [ __ # ] for intransitives

like bark, chirp, sleep etc.; [ __ PP] for intransitives with obligatory Prepositional Object like look after,

consist in, team with, rely on etc.; [ __ NP] for transitives with one Direct Object (monotransitives) like read,

make, break, cut, hit etc.; [ __ NP,PP] for transitives with a DO and a PO like blame smb. for smth., remind

smb. of smth. etc.. The predicate selects the syntactic categories it allows as 'sisters', so we can also label this

as c-selection. The Subject NP is selected by the whole VP (the Predicate Phrase). The frames only specify the

obligatory neighbours, they never include optional ones (e.g. Adjuncts like Adverbial Phrases).

b.Selectional subcategorization further introduces selectional restrictions of a semantic nature. They

are imposed by each item on its sister constituents. Transitive predicates, for instance, differ in point of the

semantic features of the NPs they take as Direct Objects. Consider: Bob is eating a pizza/ his nails/ *his chair/

*his freedom; Sheila married George / a great pianist/ *the pavement.

Violation of selectional restriction results in ungrammatical strings. However, in idiomatic or

metaphorical phrases selectional restrictions can be violated (e.g. eat one's words).

The Lexicon

In the general frame of GTG the Lexicon appears as part of the Base. It is an overall list of the words

(lexical items) that form the vocabulary of the respective language. It includes lexical entries that supply

complete information (phonological, morphological, semantic and syntactic) about each item. This

information is provided under the form of a Complex Symbol (CS) including the inherent and contextual

features characterising each item, e.g. inherent semantic features pertaining to Nouns: [+ common] in

opposition with [-common], the latter being specific to Proper Names, [+ animate] versus [-animate],

[+human] versus [-human] etc. For contextual features see section above.

E. The Transformational Subcomponent

This subcomponent is made up of transformational (T) rules, which rearrange the constituents in

basic strings and derive a synonymous surface string, e.g. T - Passivisation, by means of which active

sentences are converted into passive ones. The main T rule applying universally is movement (move- ). It

consists in the movement of a constituent, reordering (e.g. Particle Movement as in The boss turned down the

application --- The boss turned the application down; Dative Movement as illustrated by: The student handed

his essays to the lecturer --- The student handed the lecturer his essays

III. Convention of Gs: The Government and Binding (GB) Model

The model was launched in 1981, mainly through N. Chomsky's Lectures on Government and

Binding. We shall present below the main changes introduced by this new theory.

1. The X-bar Convention for Phrase Structure Representation

The convention is based on the principle of phrase endocentricity/headedness. According to this,

every syntactic group/phrase XP is built round a head, be it lexical or functional, symbolised as X. The head is

projected maximally as XP ( = X''). In between, there is a first projection, X', that includes the obligatory

complements (constituents that take part in subcategorization), according to the formula:

X' X^Complement(s)

Complements are post-head sisters of Xo and correlate with argument positions. Thus within VP (=V'') the

lower phrase level V' (equivalent of Main Verb/ MV) dominates V and the Complement NP to the right.



V NP V NP (Complement position)

create a model create a model

Standard representation X-bar representation

This representation brings into relief similarities between phrases belonging to distinct lexical categories.

Consider the N' below in comparison to the V' above and notice the similarity:


N PP (Complement position



creation of a model

The higher level represents the X'' which includes Specifiers to X': X'' Spec^X'. As a rule,

Specifiers are pre-head constituents that express specifically the reference of the head, e.g.: his creation of a

model, where the Possessive Determiner his occurs in Spec position and gives the clue as to the identity of the

logical (deep) Subject of the nominal phrase: N'' Poss Det^N'


Spec N'

Poss N PP

his creation of a model

The endocentricity principle is generalised so that, as suggested by the representation above, it

conveniently applies to the major category Sentence (S), whose left-hand Specifier is the Subject NP. The S is

reinterpreted as the maximal projection IP (I'') of the head Inflection (IO), consisting of Tense (T) and

Agreement (Agr) formatives. This cluster of constituents is separated from the V head (of VP).


1) S 2) IP





He -ed create a model He -ed [+sg] create a model

The new vision on phrase constituency also eliminates the redundancy of information caused by the

coexistence of PS rules and subcategorization rules (one and the same category, e.g. transitive Vs, used to be

described twice: by means of the PS rule - MV V^NP and, concomitantly, by the subcategorization rule

V [+V, +__NP]). The proposal was made to give up PS rules in favour of the X-bar representation which

applies uniformly upon all phrases, according to the formulae:

X'' Spec^X'

X' X^Complements

Another consequence of the application of this principle is that heads subcategorize for their

complements, rather than for their Specifiers or for their Adjuncts (i.e. optional constituents outside the

subcategorization frame). Thus Transitive Verbs subcategorize for non-prepositional NPs chosen as

Complements and functioning as Direct Objects, setting up the class of transitives versus the class of

intransitive prepositional Vs that select PPs in Complement position, i.e. functioning as Prepositional Objects

(e.g. emphasize an idea (V^NP) versus insist on an idea (V^PP)).

The head-complement relation presupposes the dependence of the constituent in complement position

upon the verb. Indeed in the transitive configuration above, the NP an idea is marked by the Accusative case

only by virtue of its being governed by the transitive V head. Such dependence relations between a head of a

construction and its dependent term are described, therefore, as government relations. They hold between

governors like Vs, Prepositions and Inflection heads, and their governees (NPs in all the three cases). The

governor assigns morphological case to its governee, as follows:





Acc Acc Nom

kiss Mary/her; with Mary/her ; -s Mary/she

The theory of Government explains how morphological case, which is not inherent in Ns, is assigned to

Subject and Object NPs.

2. Further Aspects of Government

We have seen that Government holds between two terms that are to be found in the maximal

projection of a head X

a) V' b) P'


meet people/them by people/them

In both cases the two lower nodes are part of the same constituent, which singly dominates the two

constituents. This is a relation called constituent-command/'c-command', which can be defined as follows:

c-commands iff,

every branching node dominating dominates

This is the configurational key to structures based on government like a) and b). The head governor X and the

governed term are within the same maximal projection. To sum up we shall supply below the complete

definition of Government that contains 3 clauses:


governs iff,

a. is X, i.e. lexical head, for some X

b. c-commands

c. for all maximal projections , if dominates , then it also dominates

Let us reconsider the representation of the S as the maximal projection IP of the head I. The NP Subject

is placed to the left of the head, in Specifier position. Both this NP and the I are dominated by the node that

labels the maximal projection - the IP node. I governs the Spec NP (Subject) which is within its c-command

domain. As governor of Spec NP, I assigns Nominative case to the latter.

3. Levels of Structure in GB

The two levels of syntactic structure are D-Structure (roughly the same as in GTG) and S-Structure,

which results from movement rules (move-&). These often produce semantic changes if the linear string is

rearranged - e.g. the effect of semantic operators (manner adverbials, quantifiers, negators, modal adverbs

etc.) with a variable scope.


The gangsters shot the nigger cheerfully.

The nigger got shot cheerfully.

The manner adverbial (cheerfully) has the Agentive Subject 'gangsters' in its scope in the active S (it

shows how their action was performed). In the second S (with a 'get' -passive predicate) the same adverb

refers to the way the Passive Subject, a Patient, underwent the shooting.

I won't paint the President.

The President won't be painted.

Hence semantic interpretation should apply after the T rules.

The transformational apparatus of GT is reduced to 'move- rule (where is the constituent that

moves). Other rules like deletion, for instance, operate at the level of the Phonological Component.

The Semantic Component is labelled as Logical Form.

Here is the picture indicating the organization of GB Grammar:




Phonological Logical Form

Component (Semantic Component)

The D-Structure level gives information about basic constituents and syntactic functions. This

information is made apparent in S-Structure too, by the introduction of a phonologically void category, Trace,

left behind after the application of move- on a certain constituent. The Trace t indicates the basic position of

the moved constituent and the subcategory neighbour constituents belong to. Consider:

D-Structure S-Structure





V' AvP V' AvP

V(o) NP

[e] V NP

-s wash the shirt well The shirt -s wash t well

4. Argument Structure and Thematic Roles

Each predicate takes a set of arguments that reflect the participants in the respective event. Each

participant plays a role (hence -role).Thus, the Agent represents the initiator and performer of an activity, the

Patient is the role of the participant undergoing the effects of an activity. They all form the role-structure

associated with the logical predicate (realized grammatically by a Verb or an Adjective). Each argument

bearing a -role is grammaticalised as an NP in a certain position as to the main verb. Role structures are part

of our mental and linguistic Lexicon, they represent lexical conceptual structures (LCS). The roles are

indicated in -grids for each V or A. The roles correspond to/match the constituents that make up the

subcategorisation frame.

Other roles:

Experiencer - the participant experiencing a psychological process (cognitive, affective etc., with

Vs like enjoy, love, dislike, think, remember etc.);

Goal - the location or entity in the direction of which something moves;

Benefactive - the entity that benefits from the action or event denoted by the predicate;

Source - the location or entity from which something moves;

Instrument - the medium by which the action or event is carried out;

Locative - the specification of the place where the action / event takes place.

Thematic roles form hierarchies, depending on the degree of prominence of the -roles involved (for details

see A. Cornilescu, Concepts of Modern Grammar, p.155- 183).

Exercise Set I

1. Correct and/or complete the statements below:

a) There are two linguistic levels relevant to Grammar. They are independent from the semantic level.

b) The basic unit/prime at the syntactic level is the Phrase. It is considered to be a syntactic category.

c) Lexical categories deal with parts of speech and occur higher than syntactic categories in the hierarchy of


d) Linguistic Theory (LT) is an abstract theory which presents the basic principles and concepts of grammar.

All Gs are equipped with an LT.

2. Revise the concepts of Deep and Surface Structure and answer the questions below:

1. Can the DS of a sentence S be represented graphically and if so, how is the representation labelled?

Supply the DS representation of the string: The church walls have been painted by Grigorescu.

2. What important differences do you notice if you compare the representation above to the tree that

indicates the Surface Structure of the respective S?

3. Which rule applies in the GB model in order to convert Deep Structures into Surface Structures? Are they

preserved in the GB model or not?

4. Can any changes of meaning occur at the S-Structure level?

3. Supply the Deep Structure Phrase Marker representation of the Ss below:

1. They are entertaining ladies. 2. Galloping horses can be dangerous. 3. Write down the explanation! 4. I

have talked to the man on the platform.

What do you call such Ss? Why did early structural grammar fail in analysing such strings? Account

for the way the phenomenon is described and explained by GT Grammar.

4. Can the strings below be derived in GB grammar?

a) The ship has been unloaded.

b) It happens that I like this music; I happen to like music.

c) What are you talking about?

d) The guests were shown the rooms.

Exercise Set II

1. Correct and/or complete the statements below:

1. Lexical categories can be subdivided into subcategories by resorting to the features of lexical items.

2. The subcategorization frame includes information about the Subject and the Object NPs.

3. Nouns only have inherent features.

4. Optional constituents of Phrases (Adjuncts) are also included in the frame.

5. The lexical entry supplies not only syntactic information about each item, but also phonological and

logico-semantic peculiarities.

2. Indicate the head of the Phrases below and supply the subcategorization frame that the respective

predication illustrates:

1. belongs to Xandra; adored her son; persuade him of it; give the diary to my friend;

2. image of London; interest in art; the new programme; an exciting movie;

3. afraid of ghosts; concerned with physics; quite boring; pretty expensive.

3. Supply all the frames that describe the multiple syntactic behaviour of the verbs below:


4. Give a list of Verbs that illustrate the subcategorization frames below:

[ __ PP]; [ __ Prt]; [ __ NP, NP]; [ __ AP]; [ __ AvP]; [ __ NP, PP]

5. Identify the predications in the following sentences, indicate the subcategories that realize the V head

and specify the appropriate subcategorization frame; add the theta grid associated with each verb:

a) The glass shattered./ Jack shattered the glass./ The wind shattered the glass./ Jack shattered the glass with

a hammer.

b) Your show impressed us with its humour./ The sparkling humour of your show impressed me.

c) He slapped his hand across my knee./ He slapped her on the back.

d) I like daffodils./ Daffodils please me.

e) He loaded hay on the truck./ He loaded the truck with hay.

f) She wrapped the blanket round the baby./ She wrapped the baby in the blanket.

g) 300 people can sit in the auditorium./ The auditorium can sit 300 people.

h) The car drove along the river.

IV. The Sentence (IP). Properties and Types

A. 1. Syntactic Properties

According to Classical Analytical Structuralism (CAS), the Sentence (S) is an independent

grammatical unit, the highest in the hierarchy of such units. It is described as a 'structured string of words',

occurring as a linear sequence of items grouped round a Noun head to the left and a Verb head to the right. S

is viewed as a binary construction, in which S immediately dominates the two phrases NP and VP, which

dominate in their turn the lexical categories. At the bottom there is a terminal string made up of lexical items

that belong to the corresponding lexical categories.

Ever since the advent of GTG, S has ceased to be analysed at just one level of structure, which is

regarded as 'surface' realization. S has been supplied a complete representation in terms of an

underlying/basic Deep Structure (including the global semantic interpretation of S) converted by

Transformational rules into a linearized Surface Structure, ready to be performed phonologically.

The binary constituent structure of S which forms the central architecture of S used to be considered

an instance of an exocentric phrase, lacking therefore a head or centre and being based on mutual dependency

relations between the Subject NP and the Predicate VP. The GB frame has replaced this concept of S as a

result of the headedness principle, according to which all phrases (S included) are headed (see II.1). S comes

to be described as an endocentric Inflection Phrase (IP), having as Head the functional category Inflection (Io

To the left, in Specifier I' position there is the Subject NP, governed by Io, which assigns it the abstract

morphological case Nominative. This description has a far greater explanatory power.

2. Logico-semantic Properties

The IP is interpreted semantically by the Logical Form (LF) Component, which inter-relates the

syntactic configuration with the corresponding logical proposition P, made up of a logical predicate (realized

as V or A) and a set of arguments (realized as NPs). The predicate expresses an event, a state-of-affairs (or a

change of state), while the arguments represent the participants in the event, in terms of the roles they play.

The meaning of S is also determined by the presence of logical operators, such as Quantifiers, Modals, or

Negators, which contribute to sentential meaning, even at the level of S-Structure. LF assigns meaning to

sentences in isolation from context.

3. Phonological Properties

The IP is interpreted phonologically by the Phonological Form (PF) Component, whose task is to

assign the respective string the proper intonational contour, including the pitch and the junctures. The

intonational contour is specialized for each of the four S types: declaratives, interrogatives, imperatives and


4. The Information Structure of the Sentence

S meaning can be viewed from a broader perspective that involves the quality and distribution of the

information conveyed by the sentential string. Thus the Information Structure of the IP consists of a

Topic/Theme that expresses old/given/predictable information and Comment/Rheme that expresses

new/unknown/unpredictable information. Consider:

The Romanian Government has not passed the bill on radio taxation.

[+ old information] [+ new information]

Topic/Theme Comment/Rheme

We notice that the NP functioning as Subject has as referent an already known entity which is familiar

to every Romanian, while the VP functioning as Predicate renders a new, unpredictable event whose focus is

the last constituent (in bold letters). The alternation old - new information represents the current norm for

thematic progression, it being considered unmarked. If the speaker wants to lay emphasis on the topic s/he can

use a marked construction such as:

A new bill has been passed by the Romanian Government.

This sentence topicalizes (within a Passive sentence) the deep structure DO of the corresponding active string.

Notice that the determiner in our first example, a definite article used as anaphoric, has been substituted here

by an indefinite article whose function is to mark new information.

The range of sentence patterns in any language, English included, represents the syntactic potential of

the respective language.

B. 1. Sentence Types according to the Criterion of Structural Complexity

a. A Simple Sentence is based on a single predication or predicative nucleus. The degree of structural

complexity is increased if one and the same sentence includes two or more such predications, be they finite

(+Tense, +Agr), or non-finite (-Tense, -Agr). A sentence which is part of a bigger sentence is called clause.

Clauses can be coordinated or subordinated to each other.

b. A Compound Sentence is based on coordination of conjoined clauses that enjoy the same rank:

The tourists visited the National Gallery (clause1) and then went to the Tower of London(clause2).

c. Complex Sentences evince an even higher degree of structural complexity. Minimally, they are made up of

a Main or Matrix Clause (MC) and one Subordinate / Embedded Clause.

E.g.: Recently I have realized [that Scotsmen are quite generous.]

MC Direct Object Clause

The subordinate clause above occurs in Complement post-verb position, functioning as Direct Object Clause.

The that-Clause above is finite, while the Gerundial (Ger) and Infinitival (Inf) Clauses in the Complex

Sentences below are non-finite.

1.Henry didn't remember [posting the letter.]

Ger Cl - DO

2.Henry remembered [to post the letter.]

Inf Cl - DO

One and the same sentence may be both Compound and Complex, thus reaching the highest degree

of structural complexity:

When the guide realized that the Etna had erupted again and that there were still tourists left behind

near the crater, he walked back to rescue them, but the dark prevented him from advancing too fast.

2. The Clause as Complementizer Phrase (CP)

Clauses are analysed in the GB frame as Phrases headed by clause introducers in Complementizer

position. The Complementizer is a functional category, like Inflection (I ) and Determiner (Det). It is realized

by conjunctions, wh-words (relative-interrogative pronouns) or the infinitival particle (to).

E.g.: He remembered [that he hadn't locked the door.]CP

3. The classification of sentences according to the criterion of communicative function

If viewed from the point of view of their communicative functionality, sentences fall into four types,

which are specialized cross-linguistically, as shown below:

a.The declarative sentence type is used to make statements; it is patterned according to the dominant

word order specific to each language, being taken as Standard form as to the other three types. In English

unmarked declaratives observe the SVO (Subject-Verb-Object) word order type.

E.g.: Young people enjoy pop music.


b.Interrogatives or questions are specialized for requesting missing information. In point of

constituent structure they are based on Subject-Auxiliary Inversion as in:

Has John won the contest?

Will John win the contest?

If the respective IP does not include an auxiliary verb (Be, Have or Modal), the auxiliary Do/Does or Did is

inserted to carry tense markers:

Did John win the contest yesterday?

The intonational contour of Questions is distinct from that of declaratives.

c.Imperatives are specialised for expressing commands, orders or requests. Syntactically they are

characterised by the absence of the Subject You from S-structure, e.g.:

Stop complaining!

d.Exclamatory sentences or exclamatives are used by speakers to express feelings, psychological

reactions of surprise, admiration, disapproval , and so on. They resemble Questions by their introducers which

are wh-words.

E.g.: How peaceful the village is!

What a nice vista (this is)!

In point of word order, exclamatives may either have the arrangement of declaratives or the one based on

Inversion, specific to Questions. Quite often they undergo deletion of the predicative (verbal) constituent.

E.g.: How strange!

What a delightful night!

4. The Classification of Sentences according to Polarity

Most of the sentence types above may vary according to the polarity criterion. Thus declaratives,

interrogatives and imperatives may be either affirmative or negative, the latter variant being illustrated below:

Young people don't enjoy symphonic music.

Hasn't John won the contest?

Don't complain about your family!

Negative contraction (aux. + contracted Negator) often occurs in spoken language.

5. Shift of Communicative Function

Some of the sentence types may deviate from their major function in communicative context, the

respective configuration being used to serve a different communicative goal. Thus Questions may be used

with the force of imperatives, as in:

Why don't we go to a restaurant?

What about listening to some oldies?

Besides, the negative question form may be used with the force of an exclamative, expressing

admiration or surprise, as in:

Isn't she a lady!

Hasn't she grown!

The use of Sentence types for Speech Act purposes is part of the domain of pragmatics, a linguist

discipline which will be studied in the 2nd term of the 3rd year.

Exercise Set III

1. Consider the Sentence definitions below: a) state criterion mainly used; b) identify type of Grammar

approach; c) explain key words:

a) The sentence is the expression of a complete thought.

b) The sentence is a structured string of words.

c) The Sentence is an exocentric binary concatenation of a Noun Phrase and Verb Phrase which are

mutually inter-dependent.

d) The Sentence is an independent syntactic unit.

e) The Sentence is the unit based on one predication (one predicative nucleus).

f) The Sentence is the unit made up of a Subject Group and a Predicate Group.

g) The sentence is a minimal communication that conveys new information.

h) The sentence is an information structure round a topic/theme.

2. Identify Sentence type and point out communicative function:

1.a)I shall see you next spring. b)I shall see you next spring then?

2.a)Please come here! b)I'd like you to come here. c)Could you come here?

3.a)How often has he played under those trees as a boy? b)How often has he played under those trees as a


4.a)I'm sorry that she should say this to me! b)Oh, that she should say this to me!

3. Comment upon the sentential form and sentential meaning; describe the structural and semantic

(dis)similarities evinced by the sentences below:

a) Why don't we have dinner together?

b) Someone give me a glass of water!

c) How do you do!

d) I want you to tell me what your job is.

e) I wonder whether you would mind lending me your dictionary.

f) You leave the room at once!

g) Sandra is such a clever girl!

V. Predication. Structural and Logico-semantic Tasks

The key to the structure of the IP is the predicative core or nucleus, realizing the relation of

predication and the function of Predicate Phrase. This core is made up of verbal items and phrases, which

form two clusters. The central one is the head constituent Inflection (I . Its immediate constituents -

obligatory Tense (the formatives 0/-s for the Present and -ed for the Past) in finite sentences, Mood and

Modality (the Vs shall, will, can, may a.s.o.), Aspect ( the set of formatives have + -en for the Perfect and

be-ing for the Progressive), as well as the Agreement markers (the features of person and number transfered

from the Subject NP) - carry out all the formal or structural tasks of predication:


Spec I' I'


rd p.] AGR T M Perf Progr V'

[ + sg.] [+3rd p.]

[+sg.] V

He -s may have-en be -ing sleep

may have been sleeping

The head of the VP, V , expresses an event or a state-of-affairs, or it assigns a property to the referent

of the Subject NP. The V head occurs by itself (for most intransitives), or it selects a 'sister' constituent in

Complement position (for transitives). Together, the V and its Complement select the Subject NP, which

expresses the main participant in the event, the Protagonist. In most cases this is an Agent or an Experiencer,

both these thematic roles being realized by [+human] NPs. The most relevant elements for predication are,

therefore: 1. the subcategorization frame of the verb; 2. the theta-grid associated with the verb.

In what follows we shall supply the typology of predications in English, using as a main guideline the

subcategories that realize the predication tasks as heads of the VP.

The Syntactic Property of Transitivity

The main syntactic property that brings about a partition of V items into two big subcategories is

transitivity. The syntactic property of transitivity refers to the obligatory valency/contextual feature of V:

[+ __ NP]. Vs that never enter this frame are intransitive. They are further subdivided into meaningless

intransitives called copulas or copular/linking Vs(mainly the verb BE), and meaningful intransitives. The

latter can be further subcategorized by taking into account the number of arguments in their theta-grid and the

thematic roles they bear. The main division within intransitives with one argument is that between: a)

unergatives, one-argument Vs that merely take an Agent as Subject, e.g. cough, sneeze, neigh, sleep, bark,

etc.; and b) unaccusatives, one-argument intransitives that take a Theme-bearing argument which cannot be

assigned Accusative case. Hence it has to be moved to Subject position. Here we include eventives like

happen, occur, existentials like be and exist, Vs of seeming like seem and appear, resultative state verbs like


By contrast with these two subclasses, transitives are associated with two thematic roles: Agent as

external argument and Theme or Patient as internal argument. The first role is grammaticalized as Subject, the

second as Direct Object. Consider:

a) unergative intransitive: The boxer was barking (in the back yard).


b) unaccusative intransitive The accident happened (last night).


c) transitive The woman was describing the scene.

Agent Theme

Transitivity has a 'floating' nature, it can determine shifts of Vs from the basic intransitive regime to a

derived intransitive one. These shifts are explained as cases of recategorization. Thus the intransitive verb

LIVE may be recategorized as transitive in the following contexts: a) if it occurs with a Cognate Object as in

They lived a miserable life; b) if the locative Preposition in is deleted, as in They lived Oxford Street. The

reverse direction can be illustrated by cases of Direct Object Deletion, e.g. Sean was smoking, or of Passivals,

e. g. That dictionary sold well.


VI. 1. The Copulative Predication Type

A. Copulative Predication is characterized by the following features:

it is a discontinuous, binary structure made up of two constituents:

- The Copula - a meaningless or quasi-meaningless intransitive V, like BE and other Copula-like Vs

which carries out the formal tasks of predication

- The Predicative - realized by an adjectival or nominal phrase which conveys the meaning of the

predicate, thus performing the lexical tasks of predication

Consider: The show was quite successful. (Be^AP)

The show was a great success. (Be^NP)

The Predicative may be realized by one of the following Phrases:

Adjectival Phrase (AP)

Noun Phrase (NP) simple/non-clausal constituents

Prepositional Phrase (PP)

Complementizer Phrase (CP) clausal constituents (finite or non-finite)


a) This teacher is absent-minded. - AP

b) This teacher is the Head of the English Department. - NP

c) This teacher is in need of money. - PP

d) The problem is that this teacher has not attended refreshment courses. - CP

the tasks of predication are carried out as follows:

i) the formal/structural tasks are fulfilled by copular BE and other similar verbs which are the carriers

of the markers of predication (the formatives that make up the Inflection head):

Agreement markers- copied from the Subject NP [person; number]

Tense, Aspect, Modality markers

Here are examples of Aspect marking: a) John has been very rude today (the Perfect); b) John is being very

rude (the Progressive). The two Aspects never combine in copulative predicates: * John has been being rude.

ii) the lexical tasks are carried out by the Phrase in Complement position, functioning as Predicative;

the predicative may:

a)assign a property or an attribute to the referent of the Subject NP, e.g.:

Peter is fanciful/ a poet / a fanciful poet. ( the last variant assigns two properties by means of the NP)

b) assign an identity to the referent of the Subject NP, thus functioning as 'identifier', e.g.:

Marian is my brother's wife./ She is the leader of our team.

B. More on the Copula and Copula-like Verbs

Be enjoys a multiple grammatical regime,i.e. it may be: a) a meaningful existential V belonging to

the subcategory of unaccusatives; b) a copular/link(ing) V; c) an auxiliary for the Progressive and the

Passive; d) a modal substitute (to be to Inf).


a) Once upon a time there was a princess. -existential Be (denoting existence in space and/or time)

Their villa is on the outskirts of the town.

b) Two is company, three is a crowd. - copular Be

c) The application is being typed. - auxiliary Be (marker of the Progr. or Pass)

d) He is to arrive tomorrow. - modal Be

Despite the distinct syntactic and semantic features of the three types of BE, they all share the same

behavioural peculiarities, namely: a) Be does not require Do-insertion (except Negative Imperatives like

Don't be so cheeky!); b) in Question it undergoes inversion with the Subject, e.g. Is the puppy in the kennel?

Is it barking? Is it black and white?); c) the Negator is inserted after Be and contraction can freely apply, e.g.

This pupil is not (isn't) writing; d) all types of Be can undergo deletion in contexts like Relative Clauses (the

pad which is on the desk --- the pad on the desk), Accusative with Infinitive constructions (I considered

Chomsky (to be) a genius), Time Adverbial Clauses introduced by when or while (Tom is very witty

when/while (he is) sober); e) all Bes can undergo There-Insertion, except copular Be, e.g. There is a puppy in

the kennel; There is a man crying for help, but * There is a girl clever.; f) Be does not theta-mark its NP

neighbours, but for existential Be which takes a Theme-marked NP that moves to Subject position, being

frequently associated with a Location, e.g. Paris is on the Seine. (theta -grid: < Theme, Loc>)

Copula-like verbs evince the same combinatorial possibilities as BE, but they are idiosyncratic; hence the

Lexicon indicates the contextual features specific to each. In point of meaning they are semantically poor,

forming a scale from meaningless to meaningful: MAKE is, like BE, meaningless or it may have a tinge of

'becoming' (the [+inchoative]feature), e.g. This book makes excellent reading; She will make a very good

French teacher. The Vs of BECOMING share the feature[+inchoative] and pattern as follows:

BECOME [ _ Pred. NP] On leaving school he became a bank clerk..

[ _AP] Our work is becoming more challenging.

[ _PP] I wonder what became of the gold watch you used to wear.

COME [ _ AP] Her dreams have come true.

[ _to Inf] In some towns the streets came to be used as parking places.

GET [_ AP] It's getting dark.

[_to Inf.] They got to be friends.

GROW [_AP] Marian is growing prettier and prettier.

[_to Inf.] She's growing to like him better.

Positional Verbs can also undergo a weakening of meaning, thus becoming copula-like Vs. It is the

case of loom, lie, sit, stand and rank. The student is required to look up the dictionary entries for each and

take down contexts to illustrate their behaviour as copula-like Vs.

Perception Verbs are placed at the other end of the semantic scale. They are meaningful state Vs,

which take APs as Predicatives and to-NPs as Indirect Objects expressing the role Experiencer: Those oranges

tasted sour(to the child); The news sounds incredible (to my ears). The class also includes the verbs sound,

feel, look. All sense perception Vs are basically [+state], but they may recategorize as [-state] and shift from

intransitives to transitives, e.g.: The lilac smelled sweet. (smell: [+state], copula-like V: [ __Pred AP]) and

I smelled the lilac. (smell: [-state], transitive V: [ ___NP])

C. Typology of Predicatives

According to the the logico-semantic criterion predicatives can be either attributive or equative:

a) Attributive predicatives are property assigners, the predicative assigns a property to the subject,

hence the subject is called the attributed term and the predicative - the attribuant, e.g.: The fresher was

impudent. The predicative adjective impudent assigns the property of being impudent to the subject. The two

terms cannot be reverted: *Impudent was the fresher. ( the S is ungrammatical)

The subject may be expressed by a [+/-definite NP]:. The task was too hard for him.; A policeman

was rude.

The predicative may be: [AP] Jenny is cute.; [-definite NP] Jenny is a student of German.; [PP] His

country is in a state-of-change.; [CP] Seeing is believing.

This attributive relation may be of two kinds:

i. Class membership: A B This novel is interesting. (The referent of the subject is a member of

the class of interesting entities)

ii. Class inclusion: A c B The/A tiger is a feline. (The referents of the Subject form a small set

included in the bigger set denoted by the Predicative)

b) Equative (identifying) predicatives establish the identity of the subject and both the subject and the

predicative must be marked by [+definiteness]. The subject and the predicative can be reverted: Tony Blair is

Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is Tony Blair.

The predicative may be: [+ definite NP] Jane was her teacher.; [AP, +superlative] This student is the

smartest of all.; [CP] Her change of mood was what puzzled everybody.

2) According to the syntactic criterion, APs may be: a. both modifying and predicative (a kind

man; He was kind.) b. exclusively modifying, occurring in prenominal contexts as Noun Modifiers

(an utter fool), c. exclusively predicative, occurring in verbal contexts as Predicatives (The child

wasn't asleep.)

Exclusively modifying As include: a) classifying As (financial help, economic problems); these As

serve to specify a set of reference, most of them are [-gradable] and [+denominal]; b) emphasizing As (utter,

sheer, absolute); c) As indicating position (lower, upper); d) certain -ing As (freezing cold, scalding hot)

Exclusively predicative As include a-prefixed As: awake, asleep, alive, alone, ablaze, adrift.

Exercise Set IV:

1. Correct and/ or complete the statements below:

a) BE is the only linking verb in English.

b) Predicative adjectives are perfectly similar to verbs.

c) Attributive predication can sometimes include definite NP-s in S-structure.

d) All copula-like verbs are charged with meaning.

2. Give a full description of the BE-predications in the Sentences below:

a) George is editor of the school magazine. Now he is at University. He is quite interested in journalism.

George is a bright boy, but he isn't the owner of the paper. It is certain that he will make a good

newspaperman, maybe the best in his town.

b) She was envious of my blouse.

c) Violet shoes are now the thing.

d) He was master of the situation.

3. Identify the dominant features associated with the underlined adjectives:

1) [+Predicative/ +Modifying]; 2) [+Modifying ]; 3) [+Predicative]

a) This problem is baffling to Kim.

b) He is a frequent visitor of our hospital.

c) The newly wed couple was adrift on the sea.

d) Men are fond of blondes.

e) Jerry was an utter fool.

4. State whether the following predications are attributive or equative:

a) Mr. Jones is editor-in-chief.

b) "Great Expectations" is Professor's Andrews favourite book.

c) You should be proud of having studied Japanese in Japan.

d) Michael is the same age as his girlfriend.

e) What nobody can deny is that he was so open-minded.

VI. 2. Non-copulative Intransitives

Intransitives can be divided into syntactically simple intransitives and syntactically complex


VI. 2.1 Simple intransitive verbs

They are "verbs of complete predication", as they can carry out the tasks of predication by themselves.

Their subcategorization frame is [ ___#]. Semantically, they express events of all types - activities, processes

or states with reference to a wide range of possible Subjects. Syntactically, these predicates can take as

optional Adjuncts Prepositional Objects, as well as Averbial Modifiers of various kinds, e.g.: The lilies have

(splendidly) bloomed (in my garden). optional Adjuncts: Manner Av - splendidly, Place Av - in my garden)

Simple intransitives can be subdivided into the class of unergatives, with Agentive Subjects (bloom,

work, sleep, blink, fly, run) and the class of unaccusatives with Theme Subjects (die, grow, appear, vanish,

burst, collapse

Syntactically simple intransitives can also be expressed by lexically complex verbs, made up of Verb

and Averbial Particle (traditionally labelled as Complex / Phrasal Verbs). They evince a high degree of

idiomaticity, e.g.: The lights have gone out. Other examples: pass away, take off, show up etc.

VI. 2.2. Complex Intransitives

1.Prepositional Intransitives

This subcategory includes Vs with obligatory preposition, such as: to look at, to wait for, to do with.

The subcategorization frame is [ __PP], the obligatory PP having the syntactic function of PO (Prepositional

Object). Prepositional intransitives can undergo passivization, e.g.: Jack insisted on that proposal. That

proposal was insisted on.

2. Intransitives with Particle and Preposition: [ __Prt, PP]

The class includes phrasal Vs which take an obligatory Preposition governing an Object:

They had done away with this piece of legislation.

The family came [up]Prt [against fresh problems]PO

3. Intransitives with a Prepositional Indirect Object: [ __to NP]

Several subclasses of intransitives, among which eventive Vs, experiencer Vs, relational Vs take an

Indirect Object marked by the Dative preposition to.

a. The eventive type: verbs like happen and befall take Dative NPs expressing the Experiencer of an

event, e.g.: What's happened to the old man?

b. The experiencer type: the class consists of verbs of seeming (seem, appear), verbs of perception

(sound, taste, smell), verbs of cognition (occur to smb that..).

Examples: It seemed to me that I was dreaming.

That possibility had never occurred to anyone.

c. The relational type: these Vs can be grouped into 1.those indicating relations between all kinds of

entities (Vs indicating possession: belong to smb, pertain to smb, e.g. The dash and fire pertaining to youth

are transient.)and 2. those specialized for inferiority relations between man and other entities, including bow

to smb., accrue to smb., cringe to / before smb, yield to smth.

Examples: The girl bowed to the audience.

Our people will never surrender to foreign invaders.

4. Intransitives with Two Prepositional Objects: [ __PP, PP]

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

having as an effect in surface structure the removal of one or the other of the two Objects. These Vs can be

further subdivided into:

a) Vs with an Indirect Object marked by to, followed by a PO in which the Prep indicates a topic - about, on,

upon, or the cause or purpose of an action - for.

He lectures [to undergraduates]IO [on the Elizabethan theatre]PO

b) Vs such as argue, discuss or quarrel which take as first Object a with NP indicating the human

participating as a partner in the respective activity, e.g.: He was arguing with his wife about money.

5. Intransitives with Adverbial Modifiers: [ __AvP]

There are several subcategories of Vs that take obligatory Adverbials of various kinds:

a) Intransitives with Adverbial Modifiers of Place and Direction: verbs denoting existence in space such as be,

lie, remain, sit, stand commonly take a Place Adverbial - either a locative Averb or a locative PP; Motion Vs

take, according to the semantic subclass they belong to, AvPs expressing: (a) the departure point; (b) the

destination point; (c) the path or itinerary. One and the same V sometimes enters all four, e.g.: Have you flown

up to this place (destination point), Have you flown from Athens to Rome? (path)

b) Intransitives with Quantifying Adverbials: the verbs cost, weigh and owe, often treated erroneously as

transitives (on account of their co-occurrence with a non-prepositional NP) actually take Quantifying

Adverbials, e.g.: The dictionary costs 200$. Quantifying Adverbials of Place occur obligatorily with the verb

stretch and optionally with most of the motion Vs, e.g.: The corn field stretched miles away. The verb last

takes an obligatory Quantifying Adverbial of Time,e.g. The concert lasted (for) three hours.

6. Reciprocal Intransitives

Inherently reciprocal Vs occur in two alternative configurations: (a) with a phrasally conjoined and

NP or other types of [+set] NPs as Subject; and (b) in a prepositional construction, if the Subject is a [+sg]

NP. In the latter case the Preposition is indicated for each reciprocal V in its lexical entry.

Examples: (a) 1. The train and the bus / they / the trains collided (with each other).

2. The married couple has recently separated.

(b) The train collided with the bus. The bus collided with the train.


Some transitive verbs may be recategorized as intransitives in the following cases:

A number of transitives allow the deletion of their Direct Object NP if the DO is more or less specialized

semantically (i.e. if it satisfies the V's selectional features), but is not definite referentially.

Examples: I don't particularly like the way she sings (songs

Whenever I see her, she is smoking (cigarettes

The Reflexive Direct Object can also be deleted with some transitive Vs, among which dress, shave or

wash, e.g.: He is the habit of shaving (himself ) daily.

The Direct Object may be promoted in Subject position. This occurs in activo-passives or passivals.

E.g.: This material washes well. (DO Subj; V remains active)

Exercise Set V

1. Comment upon the statements below:

a) Intransitives are "verbs of complete predication" (according to traditional grammar).

b) Intransitives are all lexically simple.

c) Some intransitive subcategories do take objects.

d) The Object of an intransitive verb is always a Prepositional Phrase.

2. Identify the Deep Structure Prepositional Object in the following sentences:

a) American civilization is being lectured to the 4th year undergraduates by Professor Yule.

b) Be more discreet or you'll get yourself talked about.

c) A reprint permission was applied to the publishers.

d) Your headmaster will have to be spoken to.

3. Identify the Intransitives that take obligatorily Adverbials; state whether these Adverbials can

undergo deletion/ omission or not.

a) You acted wisely in ignoring such bad advice.

b) She won't last long in that job.

c) The meeting lasted three hours.

d) The doctors don't think he will live through night.

VII. Transitive Predications

All transitives share the feature [ __NP]. This NP occupies the Complement position, being governed

by the transitive V. The V governor assigns Accusative case to its governee. The lexical entry of a transitive V

also includes information about the selectional restrictions imposed by the respective item, e.g. Vs like cut

and slice select [-animate], [-abstract] NPs as DOs, while know and believe select [-animate], [+ abstract] NPs

as DOs. The inherent semantic features of each transitive are also specified in the lexical entry (e.g.

[+causative], [+/-state] etc.). Features like [+Object Deletion] or [+Passivization] indicate the

transformational behaviour of each item. The lexical entry also includes the theta-grid associated with the

respectivet V. Most transitives take an Agent as external argument and a Patient/Theme as internal argument.

A. Syntactically Simple Transitives: [ __NP]

1. Monotransitives with Affected Objects indicate activities which affect concrete entities, including Vs like:

accumulate (goods, wealth), adapt (a script, a piece of furniture), decorate, ornament (a room, a house), air

(the room, the bedding), back (a car). A subcategory apart includes verbs which take as Direct Objects parts of

the human body. The respective NPs are determined by Possessives which are co-referent with the NPSubject.

Passivization is blocked: bare (one's head), bite (one's tongue), bump (one's head), clap (one's hands),

close (one's eyes), drag (one's feet), nod (one's head), shrug (one's shoulders).

2.Verbs with Effected / Resultative Object indicate activities that effect/create concrete entities. The

prototype of this class of Vs is to make. The class includes: build (a shelter), carve (a statue), compose

(music), cook (cakes), create (a model), crochet (gloves), dig (ditches), draw (a cartoon), erect (a monument).

They often take a second object, expressing the beneficiary of the respective activity by means of a for NP.

My aunt wove two curtains for her daughter.

A special type of effected object is the Cognate Object taken by inherently intransitive verbs, which

recategorize, in this way, as transitives: to smile an amiable smile, to dream a melancholy dream, to sleep the

sleep of the just. The Cognate Object may be uniform (based on the same root as the verb) as in the previous

list or non-uniform (distinct from the verb root) as in to run a race, to fight a battle, to spin a yarn etc.

3. Verbs with Affected and/or Effected Object

One and the same verb may take, contextually, either an affected or an effected direct object. Compare: Who'd

like to carve the chicken? (affected DO) and Whoever carved this statue was a genius. (effected DO). Other

verbs that may take both types of objects are: paint (the walls, a portrait), dig (a ground, a ditch), burn

(papers, bricks) etc.

4.Relational Verbs express symmetric or asymmetric relations between entities. Symmetric relations are

rendered by reciprocal verbs which express mutual relations between humans (marry, divorce) or relations of

similarity between entities (resemble).

Vs of possession express asymmetric relations. Their prototype is HAVE, which has a multiple semantic and

syntactic regime (as auxiliary for the Perfect, causative V, modal , prop -V) Its synonyms - own and possess

also predicate configurations with a possessive meaning. The Subject NP grammaticalizes the role

Benefactive, the Direct Object NP bears the role Theme.

The two classes of relational Vs described above resist Passivization.

Inclusion relationships are rendered by transitive verbs such as contain, hold, comprise, include, cover a.s.o.

These verbs are semantically related to verbs of possession.

5. Verbs with Instrumental Object like use, handle, employ, manipulate take Direct Objects that

gramaticalize the role Instrument, e.g. Tom used a knife to cut the salami.

6. Verbs with Locative Object such as enter (a place), inhabit (a flat), reach ( a destination), leave (a town)

co-occur with Direct Objects that have a locative or directional tinge , otherwise rendered by Prepositional

markers. Compare: enter the hall to go into the hall; leave the town to depart from the town.

7. Verbs with Abstract Direct Object include Vs like denote, imply, elucidate etc., whose Direct Object

expresses an abstraction. Quite often such Vs take a Complement Clause in Object position. Vs of linguistic

communication, or Vs of cognition often take such a clausal Direct Object,e.g. The jury declared that the

proofs were not valid. They considered that the man was not guilty.

8. Causative Verbs (periphrastic, lexical, morphological)

They are transitive verbs inherently marked by [+causative] or intransitive ones recategorized as transitives

and occurring contextually as causatives. These Vs express either mere causation of an event (cause, make,

get), or an event in which causation is implied, e.g. teach (cause smb to learn), cool (cause sth to become

cool), persuade (cause smb to believe). All causative constructions are transitive, owing to the fact that

causation always implies two roles: a causer and an affected or effected entity. Causatives can be classified


a) Periphrastic causatives including the Vs: cause, determine, make, have and get. Semantically speaking,

they render the idea of causation quite neutrally, with the exception of have and get, which may have an

additional tinge of compulsion or order, e.g.: I shall have him rewrite the story. (=I shall oblige him to . )

b) Lexical causatives form pairs with intransitive verbs, denoting the resultative aspect of the respective

activity, process or state by means of a lexically distinct item. Consider the pair: Caesar died. / Brutus killed

Caesar. The verb die occurs as a one-term verb, taking the Patient as Subject. The same Patient occurs as

Object of its causative counterpart kill, which is a two-term verb, with an Agent as Subject. The relation

between the transitive and the intransitive verb configurations is lexicalized, in that the possibility of using the

same V lexeme in these cases is ruled out: *Brutus died Caesar. Here are some more members of this class:

give=cause smb to have; remind=cause smb to remember; put=cause smth tobe in a place; entertain=cause

smb to rejoice, send=causesmb to receive, raise=cause smth to rise, fell=cause smth to fall.

c) Morphological Causatives are derived from other lexical items by means of word formation processes,

namely by conversion or affixation.

1) Causatives derived by conversion: to cool (from the A cool, A V, She cooled the soup.), to blind (A V),

to better, to empty;

2) Causatives derived by affixation include:

a) causatives formed by prefixation: with prefix be- (becalm, benumb), prefix dis- (disable,

disanimate), en-( enlarge, enrich, embitter)

b) causatives formed by suffixation: with suffix -ate (activate, differentiate), with suffix -ize

(commercialize, criticize), with -en (madden, lessen)

d) Attitudinal Causatives/Experiencer Causatives express a psyhological reaction aroused in a human

being by an exterior stimulus and include verbs like puzzle, terrify, surprise, please etc., e.g.: The news

pleased everybody.

e) Dative Causatives include causatives that take two objects, an IO and a DO: give smth to smb, sell smth to

smb, show smth to smb

f) Ergative Verbs are verbs which couple the basic regimes of both transitives and intransitives. The same

verb may predicate, without any difference in its phonological form, a one-term intransitive configuration or a

two-term transitive one: Sarah moved the branch. (move transitive V) and The branch moved.(

move=intransitive V). Other Vs: drop, break, melt, roll, improve, stir

9. Lexically Complex Verbs are made up of a verbal item and an Adverbial Particle, e.g. Turn off the lights!

Some of these verbs can undergo particle movement, e.g.: Turn the lights off!

Intransitives Recategorized as Causatives

Intransitive verbs may be recategorized as transitive, when they contextually incorporate the [+ causative]

feature: He walked the horse up and down.

B. Syntactically Complex Transitives

1. Dative Verbs have the following subcategorization frame: [ __NP, to/for NP], they include verbs like:

make smth for smb, lend smth to smb, communicate smth to smb

Subcategorization of Dative Verbs. In what follows we shall give a very brief survey of Dative V classes, as

identified and described by Green (1974). The criterion is primarily semantic, although syntactic peculiarities

are mentioned in each case.

A. To - Classes

The verbs in these classes take a to IO that denotes the actual or potential Recipient of a transfer.

1) the bring class includes verbs denoting the direct and accompanied physical transfer of an object from an

Agent to a Goal expressed by the IO: bring, take, carry, drag, hand, haul, pass, pull, push. Some motion of

the Agt in view of the transfer is always implied.

2) the give class includes V-s denoting the direct and unaccompanied transfer of an object to a Goal

expressed by the IO: advance, award, cede, concede, entrust, feed, give, lease, lend, loan, pay, rent, sell,

serve. Subcategorization results if we take into account: 1) the nature of the transferred object; 2) the

limitations or conditions on the transfer. The following closely similar V-s do not enter the domain of Dative

(= do not allow Dative Movement): contribute, donate, distribute; give away and give out. Complex phrases

with quasi-dummy give only enter V NP NP sequences and can be further subclassified into:

a) causative expressions describing the source of some physical/psychic condition, e.g.: give smb. the measles

/ an inferiority complex / a broken arm / a black eye / a pain in the neck / a sense of well-being.

b) non-stative expressions, involving physical contact. The DO is not-contrastive, the whole unit may be

replaced by the corresponding to the Direct Object NP: to give smb. a bath / a kiss / a punch in the nose / a

handshake / a shove / a beating / thrashing / whipping.

c) give - expressions describing interpersonal communicative behaviour: to give smb. a piece of one s mind

one s best wishes / a call / a nod / a talking-to / a rough time / a dirty look / the finger.

d) give partially implicative expressions indicating that the Subject lets the IO engage in having, getting,

taking or suffering the action denoted by the DO: to give smb. a turn on one s bicycle / a ride in one s car / a

shot at photographing smth. / a look at smth. etc.

3) the send class includes Vs denoting an unaccompanied physical trensfer of an object from an Agent to a

Goal: float, fling, forward, hurl, lower, mail, pitch, push, relay, roll, ship, shove, slide, throw, toss etc. The

closely similar V-s drive, lift, raise seem to only take a prepositional IO.

4) the "communication V" class is further subdivided into: a) the radio - class (denominal instrumental

communication Vs): radio, wire, cable, telegraph, telephone and other Vs meaning "to send by means of N":

shout, gesture, relay, mail. The range of possible DOs is limited to news, information, response, answer.

Subclass b) includes V-s denoting the verbal expression of a message: tell, cite, preach, quote, read, write.

The DOs are NP-s denoting or describing narratives, evidence or arguments. Tell tends to undergo Dative:

admit, articulate, confess, declare, explain, mention, mumble, mutter, narrate, recite, recommend, recount,

repeat, report, state, utter, voice.

5) the promise class includes V-s referring to subsequent or projected acquisition of an object by a Goal:

allot, assign, bequeath, grant, guarantec, leaye, offer, owe (in the sense of material debt), permit, promise etc.

There are two Vs owe: owe expresses (moral) indebtedness and never undergoes Dative (e.g. I owe my

success to my parents / to good luck); owe denotes a material debt and it does undergo Dative. Quite often

owe takes a Quantifier Adverbial instead of a DO: He owes me a great sum of money / 5000 lei.

The Vs deny, refuse and spare are the negative counterparte of Vs of future acquisition. They only occur in

the V NP NP construction.

B. For - Classes

The V-s that take a for NP as IO and may undergo Dative display a very wide range of meanings; they

denote all sorts of actions undertaken by the Agent for the appreciation or for the benefit of the IO referent.

The semantic role corresponding to IO is, in general, the Benefective.

1) the make class ( creative act Vs or verba efficiendi) includes Vs with effected DO, such as: boil, cook,

draw, knit, make, roast, paint a.s.o. The class is open for any creation V, with a tendency of Dative-moved IOs

to be pronominal:

a. I shall roast him / fricassee him a chicken.

b. ? I fricasseed John a chicken.

2) the buy class consists of Vs denoting activities involving selection: buy, choose, gather, get, find, leave (=

leave behind), pick out, procure, purchase, save. The V-s abandon, collect, select do not lend themselves as

easily to Dative. The verb obtain never undergoes Dative.

3) artistic performance V-s from the third class and include: chant, dance, play, recite, sing. V-s indicating an

object performed upon, a particular kind of performance or the work performed, can occur with for IOs, but

do not undergo Dative (with the excetion of Vs denoting vocal production):

a. ? She blew us her trombone / "Taps".

b. ? She waltzed us a few bars of "The Blue Danube".


a. She played us her trombone.

b. She danced us a few bars of "The Blue Danube".

c. She hummed us "Let It Be".

4. The earn class indicates the Goal of a prize or roward and is limited to gain, earn and win, which take

inanimate Subjects paraphrasable by animate ones. They mostly occur with interval IO:

a. Selling books will earn Bob a lot of money.

Bob s selling books will earn him a lot of money.)

b. The publication of his translation will earn him a world wide reputation.

benefective expressions, rather than a class of Vs; they denote acts intended to indicate the subject's

devotion to the IO referent. If a change-of-state takes place, the V may undergo Dative.

a. Sam promised to move/ crush his lover a mountain. (Green)

b. * Sam promised to taste his lover her wine (Green)

Constructions expressing malefective acts take on NP objects rather than to/for ones (e.g. She played a trick

on us

2. Prepositional Transitives enter configurations in which the DO is followed by a PO ([ __NP, PP]): accuse

smb of smth, blame smb for smth, deprive smb of smth, reproach smb with smth. They can passivize by

moving the DO in Subject position.

3. Transitives with Particle and Preposition include verbs with Adverbial Particle followed by an obligatory

preposition which in its turn governs an Object (labelled as Prepositional Object): to look down on smb, to let

smb in on smth, to get smb off to a good start etc.

The PO may undergo passivization:

This humble guy has always been looked down on.

VIII. The Passive

1.The Scope of the English Passive

Unlike most Indo-European languages, which limit passivization to transitive strings, English allows

the passivization of a wider range of predications, including intransitive ones. Besides, there are

frequent cases in which one sentence has got two

passive counterparts. Examples:

i) intransitive predications which allow passivization:

a) intransitives with obligatory preposition - the Object of the preposition becomes Subject, while the

preposition is 'stranded', remaining attached to the verb (this operationis labelled as Preposition


Jim was looking for the lost luggage ----- The lost luggage was being looked for (by Jim)

The board insists on the new proposal ----- The new proposal is insisted on (by the board)

The villagers will talk about the rumour very much ---- Th rumour will be very much talked about( by

the board)

b) intransitives with an Adverbial Modifier of Place expressed by a Prepositional Phrase:

Napoleon has slept in the bed ----- This bed has been slept in by Napoleon

Has anyone sat on this sofa? ----- Has this sofa been sat on (by anyone)

Nobody seems to have lived in this cottage ---- This cottage hasn't been lived in (by anyone)

ii) Active constructions with two passive counterparts

a) dative constructions which allow either the Direct Object or the Indirect Object to become

Subject of a passive sentence:

Sarah served the guests several fish dishes ----Several fish dishes were served to the guests(Passive 1

: DO --- Subject); The guests were served several fish dishes (by Sarah) (Passive 2: IO --- Subject)

b) complex transitive verbs that take a fixed preposition in front of the second Object, e.g. to take

great advantage of smb./smth., to keep close tabs on smb., to pay great homage to smb. etc. Either the

Direct Object or the Prepositional Object may become passive Subject:

The students took great advantage of the summer courses --- Great advantage was taken of the

summer courses (by the students) (Passive 1: DO ---Subject); The summer courses were taken great

advantage of (Passive 2: PO --- Subject

2. The Domain of the Passive

All the V subcategories that predicate passivazable constructions like the ones above fall within 'the

domain of the Passive'. Outside this domain there are: a) intransitive Vs with fixed preposition like:

belong to, abound in, consist in/of, swarm with and a few others; b) transitive Vs like: to have/have

got, to possess, to resemble; c) reflexive verbs or constructions.

3. Types of Passive structures in English

1. Passivals/half-passives/activo-passives are structures with an active V and a passive meaning due to

the movement of the Direct Object in Subject position:

These figures add easily. That cloth washes and irons perfectly. Fowles' novels read

pleasantly Notice that the Agent cannot be expressed by the by-Object.

Agentless/short Passives, occurring without the Object of Agent because the latter is not known, or

irrelevant to the context, or too well known. Such short Passives emphasize the result of the activity,

e.g. The ship has been loaded. The letter has been sent. All the windows have been opened.

3. Agentive /long Passives, always expressing the Agent in final (focus) position, for emphasis, e.g.

Hamlet's part was played by Gibson. The contest has been won by my cousin. The news was broken

by a complete stranger

The 'get' Passive using the auxiliary get instead of be, in order to obtain a detrimental tinge, or to

lend more dynamism to the activity, e.g. John's leg got broken. My aunt's jewels got stolen. How did

this window get opened?

Exercise Set VI

1. Correct and/or complete the statements below:

a) Monotransitives with affected direct objects never take effected direct objects.

b) All monotransitives may undergo Passivization.

c) Causative verbs are always basic.

d) Ergative verbs are expressed by activity verbs.

2. What subcategory of transitives is illustrated by the following examples? State if Passivization is


a) Unfortunately, she married Mike in his youth.

b) The students haven't stopped the campaign against pollution.

c) This gallery contains prints.

d) She had already dressed the child.

e) She has booked a single room for Max.

f) The commander charged him with an important mission.

g) After bad reviews the play quickly died the death.

3. Specify the -grid for the verbs in the following sentences:

a) The frost turned the water into ice.

b) The storm broke the window into pieces.

c) Janet laid the ashtray on the table.

d) The team felled ten trees in our forest.

e) Sarah had her blouse washed.


1. State whether the statements are TRUE or FALSE:

a) monotransitives obligatorily affected Object which cannot be deleted;

b) all transitives allow passivization;

c) dative verbs are all transitive;

d) causatives are always derived.

Answers: a) false; b) false; c) false; d) false;

2. Specify the subcategory realizing predications in the sentences below:

a) He got shot in the battle.

b) She lived a miserable life.

c) The child broke the bowl. / The bowl broke.

d) He has packed some books for his daughter.

Answers: a) passive get; b) transitive with Cognate Object; c) ergative verb; d) ditransitive verb;

3. Build simple sentences with the verbs MAKE, REMIND, HAPPEN so as to illustrate all the

configurations they can predicate.

Model: a) Sue made a cheese pie. b) I reminded Mary of her scool-tasks. c) The event happened out of

the blue.

4. Analyse syntactically:

a) It surprised me that there were no mistakes in the article printed by the students.

b) He suggested to us that we should take a walk.

c) Quite surprisingly, he turned out to be a hero.

d) Playing games was what he was mainly interested in.

Model Answers:

a) Complex sentence with a Main Clause (with anticipatory IT Subject); that clause - Subject

Clause based on an existential "'there" predication.

b) Complex Sentence predicated by a dative verb with a prepositional IO (marked by to) and a DO

Clause predicated by a prop V construction

c) Complex sentence modified by a Sentence Adverbial; Main Clause predicated by an inransitive

verb, Infinitive Clause - Subject Clause (SSR - Nominative plus Infinitive Construction)

d) Complex sentence with a Main Clause predicated by copula BE; Gerundial Clause - Subject

Clause, and Free Relative Clause (FRC) functioning as Predicative Clause.


Serban, D., The Syntax of English Predications, Ed. Funda iei Romnia de Mine, 2006

Cornilescu, A., English Complementation: A Minimalist Perspective, EUB, 2003

Quirk, R., Greenbaum, S., Svartvik, J., A Grammar of Contemporary English, Longman Group Ltd., 1972


. Cornilescu, A., Concepts of Modern Grammar, UB, 1995

Avram L., English Syntax. The Structure of Root Clauses, Oscar Print, 2003

. Haegeman, L., Gueron, J., English Grammar, A Generativist Perspective, T.J. International, Padstow,


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