Syntax

Report
An overview
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The knowledge of sentences and their
structure.
Syntactic rules include:
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The grammaticality of sentences
Word order
Hierarchical organization of sentences
Grammatical relations such as subject and object
Whether different structures have different
meanings or the same meanings
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2.
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6.
The boy found the ball.
The boy found quickly.
The boy found in the house.
The boy found the ball in the house.
Lisa slept the baby.
Lisa slept soundly.
Sentences are not random strings of words.
They must conform to specific patterns.
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Grammaticality judgments do not depend on
having heard the sentence before:
Enormous crickets in pink socks danced at the
party.
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Grammaticality judgments do not depend on
meaning:
Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.
*Furiously sleep ideas green colorless
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Major word classes
Nouns
Verbs
Adjectives
Adverbs
Sentence with only major word classes:
I wrote song girlfriend I honoring relationship
very much
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Determiners
A, the, this, my, three, several
◦ Are used to “determine” a noun.
◦ Which noun or how many nouns
det
N
det
N
det
N
det
N
A student in my class visited the library for three hours
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Prepositions
In, on, by, with
Indicate some relationship between noun
and some other element in sentence.
P det
N
P det
N
The information is in the book on the table.
P
det
N
P
N
I’m thrilled with the book by Chomsky.
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Auxiliaries
Might, should, will, be, have, can etc.
Help or add meaning to a verb
You might teach word classes someday, so you
should know them well.
We are enjoying linguistics because we have
been studying word classes.
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Conjunctions
And, or, but, if, because
They connect (conjoin) nouns, phrases,
clauses
I like linguistics and grammar, but I don’t like the
teacher nor my class mates.
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Nouns and Noun phrases
Syntactic test how to identify nouns:
phrase
det
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adj
_______
Her purple hair disgusted her mother.
NP
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For each sentence below, underline the NP
that is the complete subject and circle the
word that is the single subject.
The pathetic team lost another game.
Our players drink to much beer.
The smartest exchange students come to
MUIC.
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Verbs and verb phrases
Meaning based: action
Syntactically: expresses what is said about
the subject: Predicate
Her purple hair
NP
disgusted her mother.
VP
Phrasal category
Form
Function
NP
Headed by a noun
Subject of sentence
VP
Headed by a verb
Predicate of sentence
VP
NP
NP
det
adj
N
V
det
The
friendly
person
asked
a
N
question
S
VP
NP
NP
det
The
adj
friendly
N
V
det
person
asked
a
N
question
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Verbs and verb phrases
Quick exercise
In each of the sentences below, underline the
entire predicate (VP) and circle the head verb
of that VP
The pathetic team lost another game.
Our players drink to much beer.
The smartest exchange students come to
MUIC.
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Adjectives
◦ Modify nouns
My favorite dog is hungry.
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Adjectives can have a predicative function or
an attributive function.
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For the most part any adjective can be used
both predicatively and attributively. There
are, however, exceptions. Create sentences to
determine whether the adj. can be used in
both or only one way:
Large
Asleep
previous
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Adverbs
Often considered the ‘garbage’ category
Unfortunately, some students drive very
quickly and create extremely dangerous
roads.
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unfortunately: sentence adverb
quickly:
manner adverbs
very:
degree adverbs
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Quick exercise
Using functional clues, determine the subcategory (type) of
each of the underlined adverbs in the sentence below. Use SA,
MA, DA
Hopefully, we’ll learn adverbs completely¹ by
the time this highly difficult chapter is
completely² finished.
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hopefully
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completely²
completely¹
highly

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