Constituent, adverbial, and the prepositional phrase
Consider the following sentence: (1) He is at the station. We could ask (2) Where is he? and we may also ask: (3) He is at what? or (4) What is he at? However (3) and (4) are marked in the linguistic sense. (2) seems the more natural question form. Consider (5): (5) He is…
In any English sentence there are either zero, one, two or three actants. Actants are the “participants” of the sentence. They are either people or things. In (1) below the action of “to rain” itself is the “zero” actant. (1) It is raining. “It” is the dummy subject. In (2) and (3) the subjects “Peter” and…
Sometimes the adverb is obligatory and unmovable
Consider this sentence: (1) He put the bag down. The parts of the sentence are He (S) / put (V) / the bag (O) / down (A). The removal of A (adverbial) would render the sentence incomplete. In other words, the A is obligatory. Some teachers call this sentence SVO but that would make “the…
Why syntax over morphology
Over the years of teaching and writing I have noticed how much more emphasis had been given to words (morphology) over sentences (syntax). Perhaps it is because sentences are mistakenly thought of as so much harder to pin down. When people see a sentence of twenty words they think of twenty things. Rarely do they…
Dealing with long difficult to understand sentences
I have talked about the seven sentence patterns here. Those are all simple sentences. A simple sentence contains a single verb, that is, one clause. Complex sentences contain more than one verb, or two or more clauses. An SVO sentence theoretically can have three clauses, having one each for the subject, verb and object. It…
A quick introduction to Japanese syntax and particles
The Japanese language is considered syntactically a Subject-Object-Verb or SOV language in contrast to English which is considered a subject-Verb-Object or SVO language, as these two example sentences will show. (1) Ken wa (S) tama wo (O) uchimashita (V). (2) Ken (S) hit (V) the ball (O). While it is not possible to move the syntactical elements around in English without a changing…
Five or Seven Sentence Patterns?
While the seven sentence pattern description is the norm in English linguistics today there still persists the use of five sentence description in some non-English speaking countries like Japan which teach English as a foreign language. Essentially the seven sentence pattern is a five sentence pattern with the extra two pattern as extensions of SVA…
the grammar police are here and now i must ask for forgiveness for my syns. that i have to pay for in syn-tax.