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English Grammar in English by John Dow
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:46 PM | Message # 76
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11.7 The Grammatical Hierarchy: Words, Phrases, Clauses, and Sentences
Words, phrases, clauses, and sentences constitute what is called the GRAMMATICAL HIERARCHY. We can represent this schematically as follows:
sentences
consist of one or more...
clauses
consist of one or more...
phrases
consist of one or more...
words
Sentences are at the top of the hierarchy, so they are the largest unit which we will be considering (though some grammars do look beyond the sentence). At the other end of the hierarchy, words are at the lowest level, though again, some grammars go below the word to consider morphology, the study of how words are constructed.
At the clause level and at the phrase level, two points should be noted:
1. Although clauses are higher than phrases in the hierarchy, clauses can occur within phrases, as we've already seen:
The man who lives beside us is ill
Here we have a relative clause who lives beside us within the NP the man who lives beside us.
2. We've also seen that clauses can occur within clauses, and phrases can occur within phrases.
Bearing these two points in mind, we can now illustrate the grammatical hierarchy using the following sentence:
My brother won the lottery
As a means of illustrating the grammatical hierarchy, the labelled brackets we have used here have at least one major drawback. You've probably noticed it already -- they are very difficult to interpret. And the problem becomes more acute as the sentence becomes more complex. For this reason, linguists prefer to employ a more visual method, the TREE DIAGRAM.
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:47 PM | Message # 77
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12 Form and Function
We have used the word "form" quite often in the Internet Grammar. It was one of the criteria we used to distinguish between word classes -- we saw that the form or "shape" of a word is often a good clue to its word class.
When we looked at phrases, too, we were concerned with their form. We said that phrases may have the basic form (Pre-Head string) - Head - (Post-Head string).
And finally, we classified clauses according to the form (finite or nonfinite) of their main verb.
In all of these cases, we were conducting a FORMAL analysis. Form denotes how something looks -- its shape or appearance, and what its structure is. When we say that the old man is an NP, or that the old man bought a newspaper is a finite clause, we are carrying out a formal analysis.
We can also look at constituents -- phrases and clauses -- from another angle. We can examine the FUNCTIONs which they perform in the larger structures which contain them.
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:47 PM | Message # 78
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12.1 Subject and Predicat
The most familiar grammatical function is the SUBJECT. In notional terms, we can think of the Subject as the element which performs the "action" denoted by the verb:
[1] David plays the piano
[2] The police interviewed all the witnesses
In [1], the Subject David performs the action of playing the piano. In [2], the Subject the police performs the action of interviewing all the witnesses. In these terms, this means that we can identify the Subject by asking a wh-question:
[1] David plays the piano
Q. Who plays the piano?
A. David ( = Subject)
[2] The police interviewed all the witnesses
Q. Who interviewed all the witnesses?
A. The police (= Subject)
Having identified the Subject, we can see that the remainder of the sentence tells us what the Subject does or did. In [1], for example, plays the piano tells us what David does. We refer to this string as the PREDICATE of the sentence. In [2], the Predicate is interviewed all the witnesses.
Here are some more examples of sentences labelled for Subject and Predicate.

Subject Predicate
The lion roared
He writes well
She enjoys going to the cinema
The girl in the blue dress arrived late

In each of these examples, the Subject performs the action described in the Predicate. We've seen, however, that there are problems in defining verbs as "action" words, and for the same reasons, there are problems in defining the Subject as the "performer" of the action. The Subject in John seems unhappy is John, but we would hardly say he is performing an action. For this reason, we need to define the Subject more precisely than this. We will look at the characteristics of the Subject on the next page.
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:47 PM | Message # 79
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12.2 Characteristics of the Subject
The grammatical Subject has a number of characteristics which we will examine here.

1. Subject-Verb Inversion
In a declarative sentence, the Subject comes before the verb:
Declarative: David is unwell
When we change this into a yes/no interrogative, the Subject and the verb change places with each other:
If an auxiliary verb is present, however, the Subject changes places with the auxiliary:
Declarative: Jim has left already
Interrogative: Has Jim left already?
In this interrogative, the Subject still comes before the main verb, but after the auxiliary. This is true also of interrogatives with a do-auxiliary:
Declarative: Jim left early
Interrogative: Did Jim leave early?
Subject-verb inversion is probably the most reliable method of identifying the Subject of a sentence.
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:48 PM | Message # 80
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2. Position of the Subject
In a declarative sentence, the Subject is usually the first constituent:
Jim was in bed
Paul arrived too late for the party
The Mayor of New York attended the banquet
We made a donation to charity
However, there are exceptions to this. For instance:
Yesterday the theatre was closed
Here, the first constituent is the adverb phrase yesterday, but this is not the Subject of the sentence. Notice that the theatre, and not yesterday, inverts with the verb in the interrogative:
Declarative: Yesterday the theatre was closed
Interrogative: Yesterday was the theatre closed?
So the Subject here is the theatre, even though it is not the first constituent in the sentence.

3. Subject-verb Agreement
Subject-verb AGREEMENT or CONCORD relates to number agreement (singular or plural) between the Subject and the verb which follows it:
Singular Subject: The dog howls all night
Plural Subject: The dogs howl all night
There are two important limitations to Subject-verb agreement. Firstly, agreement only applies when the verb is in the present tense. In the past tense, there is no overt agreement between the Subject and the verb:
The dog howled all night
The dogs howled all night
And secondly, agreement applies only to third person Subjects. There is no distinction, for example, between a first person singular Subject and a first person plural Subject:
I howl all night
We howl all night
The concept of NOTIONAL AGREEMENT sometimes comes into play:
The government is considering the proposal
The government are considering the proposal
Here, the form of the verb is not determined by the form of the Subject. Instead, it is determined by how we interpret the Subject. In the government is..., the Subject is interpreted as a unit, requiring a singular form of the verb. In the government are..., the Subject is interpreted as having a plural meaning, since it relates to a collection of individual people. Accordingly, the verb has the plural form are.
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:48 PM | Message # 81
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4. Subjective Pronouns
The pronouns I, he/she/it, we, they, always function as Subjects, in contrast with me, him/her, us, them:
I left early
*Me left early
He left early
*Him left early
We left early
*Us left early
They left early
*Them left early
The pronoun you can also be a Subject:
You left early
but it does not always perform this function. In the following example, the Subject is Tom, not you:
Tom likes you
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:48 PM | Message # 82
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12.3 Realisations of the Subject
In the sentence, Jim was in bed, the Subject is the NP Jim. More precisely, we say that the Subject is realised by the NP Jim. Conversely, the NP Jim is the realisation of the Subject in this sentence. Remember that NP is a formal term, while Subject is a functional term:
FORM FUNCTION
Noun Phrase Subject
Subjects are typically realised by NPs. This includes NPs which have pronouns [1], cardinal numerals [2], and ordinal numerals [3] as their Head word:
[1] [We] decided to have a party
[2] [One of my contacts lenses] fell on the floor
[3] [The first car to reach Brighton] is the winner
However, other constituents can also function as Subjects, and we will examine these in the following sections.
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:48 PM | Message # 83
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Clauses functioning as Subject
Clauses can also function as Subjects. When they perform this function, we refer to them generally as Subject clauses. The table below shows examples of the major types of Subject clauses:

CLAUSES
functioning as
SUBJECTS EXAMPLE
Finite

That-clause

Nominal Relative clause

[1] That his theory was flawed soon became obvious

[2] What I need is a long holiday
Nonfinite

To-infinitive clause

-ing clause

[3] To become an opera singer takes years of training

[4] Being the chairman is a huge responsibility
Notice that some of these Subject clauses have Subjects of their own. In [1], the Subject clause that his theory was flawed, has its own Subject, his theory. Similarly, in [2], the Subject of what I need is I.
Among nonfinite clauses, only to-infinitive clauses and -ing participle clauses can function as Subject. Bare infinitive clauses and -ed participle clauses cannot perform this function. In the examples above -- [3] and [4] -- the nonfinite Subject clauses do not have Subjects of their own, although they can do:
[3a] For Mary to become an opera singer would take years of training
[4a] David being the chairman has meant more work for all of us
Prepositional Phrases functioning as Subject
Less commonly, the Subject may be realised by a prepositional phrase:
After nine is a good time to ring
Prepositional phrases as Subject typically refer to time or to space.
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:49 PM | Message # 84
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12.4 Some Unusual Subjects
Before leaving this topic, we will point out some grammatical Subjects which may at first glance be difficult to recognise as such. For example, can you work out the Subject of the following sentence?
There is a fly in my soup
As we've seen, the most reliable test for identifying the Subject is Subject-verb inversion, so let's try it here:
Declarative: There is a fly in my soup
Interrogative: Is there a fly in my soup?
The inversion test shows that the subject is there. You will recall that this is an example of existential there, and the sentence in which it is the Subject is an existential sentence.
Now try the same test on the following:
It is raining
The inversion test shows that the Subject is it:
Declarative: It is raining
Interrogative: Is it raining?
These two examples illustrate how limited the notional definition of the Subject really is. In no sense can we say that there and it are performing an "action" in their respective sentences, and yet they are grammatically functioning as Subjects.
On this page, we've seen that the function of Subject can be realised by several different forms. Conversely, the various forms (NP, clause, PP, etc) can perform several other functions, and we will look at these in the following pages.
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:49 PM | Message # 85
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12.5 Inside the Predicate
Now we will look inside the Predicate, and assign functions to its constituents. Recall that the Predicate is everything apart from the Subject. So in David plays the piano, the Predicate is plays the piano. This Predicate consists of a verb phrase, and we can divide this into two further elements:
[plays] [the piano]
In formal terms, we refer to the verb as the PREDICATOR, because its function is to predicate or state something about the subject. Notice that Predicator is a functional term, while verb is a formal term:

FORM FUNCTION
Verb Predicator
However, since the Predicator is always realised by a verb, we will continue to use the more familiar term verb, even when we are discussing functions.
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:49 PM | Message # 86
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12.6 The Direct Object
In the sentence David plays the piano, the NP the piano is the constituent which undergoes the "action" of being played (by David, the Subject). We refer to this constituent as the DIRECT OBJECT.
Here are some more examples of Direct Objects:
We bought a new computer
I used to ride a motorbike
The police interviewed all the witnesses
We can usually identify the Direct Object by asking who or what was affected by the Subject. For example:
We bought a new computer
Q. What did we buy?
A. A new computer ( = the Direct Object)
The Direct Object generally comes after the verb, just as the Subject generally comes before it. So in a declarative sentence, the usual pattern is:
Subject -- Verb -- Direct Object
The following table shows more examples of this pattern:

Subject Verb Direct Object
The tourists visited the old cathedral
She sent a postcard
The detectives examined the scene of the crime
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:50 PM | Message # 87
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12.7 Realisations of the Direct Object
The Direct Object is most often realised by an NP, as in the examples above. However, this function can also be realised by a clause. The following table shows examples of clauses functioning as Direct Objects:

CLAUSES
functioning as
DIRECT OBJECTS EXAMPLES
Finite
That-clause
Nominal relative clause

[1] He thought that he had a perfect alibi
[2] The officer described what he saw through the keyhole
Nonfinite
To-infinitive clause
Bare infinitive clause
-ing clause
-ed clause

[3] The dog wants to play in the garden
[4] She made the lecturer laugh
[5] Paul loves playing football
[6] I'm having my house painted
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:50 PM | Message # 88
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12.8 Subjects and Objects, Active and Passive
A useful way to compare Subjects and Direct Objects is to observe how they behave in active and passive sentences. Consider the following active sentence:
Active: Fire destroyed the palace
Here we have a Subject fire and a Direct Object the palace.
Now let's convert this into a passive sentence:
The change from active to passive has the following results:
1. The active Direct Object the palace becomes the passive Subject

2. The active Subject fire becomes part of the PP by fire (the by-agent phrase).
12.9 The Indirect Object
Some verbs occur with two Objects:
We gave [John] [a present]
Here, the NP a present undergoes the "action" (a present is what is given). So a present is the Direct Object. We refer to the NP John as the INDIRECT OBJECT.
Indirect Objects usually occur with a Direct Object, and they always come before the Direct Object. The typical pattern is:
Subject -- Verb -- Indirect Object -- Direct Object
Here are some more examples of sentences containing two objects:

Indirect Object Direct Object
Tell me a story
He showed us his war medals
We bought David a birthday cake
Can you lend your colleague a pen?
Verbs which take an Indirect Object and a Direct Object are known as DITRANSITIVE verbs. Verbs which take only a Direct Object are called MONOTRANSITIVE verbs. The verb tell is a typical ditransitive verb, but it can also be monotransitive:

Indirect Object Direct Object
Ditransitive David told the children a story
Monotransitive David told a story
As we've seen, an Indirect Object usually co-occurs with a Direct Object. However, with some verbs an Indirect Object may occur alone:
David told the children
although we can usually posit an implicit Direct Object in such cases:
David told the children the news
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:51 PM | Message # 89
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12.10 Realisations of the Indirect Object
NPs are the most common realisations of the Indirect Object. It is a typical function of pronouns in the objective case, such as me, him, us, and them.
Less commonly, a clause will function as Indirect Object:
David told whoever saw her to report to the police
12.11 Adjuncts
Certain parts of a sentence may convey information about how, when, or where something happened:
He ate his meal quickly (how)
David gave blood last week (when)
Susan went to school in New York (where)
The highlighted constituents here are ADJUNCTS. From a syntactic point of view, Adjuncts are optional elements, since their omission still leaves a complete sentence:
He ate his meal quickly ~He ate his meal

David gave blood last week ~David gave blood

Susan went to school in New York ~Susan went to school
Many types of constituents can function as Adjuncts, and we exemplify these below.
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:51 PM | Message # 90
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12.12 Realisations of Adjuncts
Noun Phrases functioning as Adjuncts
David gave blood last week
Next summer, we're going to Spain
We've agreed to meet the day after tomorrow
NPs as Adjuncts generally refer to time, as in these examples.

Adverb Phrases functioning as Adjuncts
They ate their meal too quickly
She walked very gracefully down the steps
Suddenly, the door opened

Prepositional Phrases functioning as Adjuncts
Susan went to school in New York
I work late on Mondays
After work, I go to a local restaurant
PPs as Adjuncts generally refer to time or to place -- they tell us when or where something happens.

Clauses functioning as Adjuncts
Subordinate clauses can function as Adjuncts. We'll begin with some examples of finite subordinate clauses:

Clauses
functioning as
Adjuncts EXAMPLES
Finite While we were crossing the park, we heard a loud explosion
I was late for the interview because the train broke down
If you want tickets for the concert, you have to apply early
My car broke down, so I had to walk
Nonfinite
To-infinitive clause
Bare infinitive clause
-ing clause

-ed clause
Small clause

To open the window, you have to climb a ladder
Rather than leave the child alone, I brought him to work with me
Being a qualified plumber, Paul had no difficulty in finding the leak
Left to himself, he usually gets the job done quickly
His face red with rage, John stormed out of the room

You will notice that these clauses express the range of meanings that we looked at earlier (in Subordinate Clauses: Semantic Types). In all cases, notice also that the Adjuncts express additional and optional information. If they are omitted, the remaining clause is still syntactically complete.
 
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