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Structural Analysis of English Syntax

Part II - C. Chapter 8 (pp. 98-114) Herndon, J.H. (1999). A Survey of modern grammars (2nd Facsim ed.) Forth Worth, TX. ; Hartcourt College Publishers.

Prepared by: Anbal Muoz Claudio

Course: Educ 8145 Professor: Dr. Mara A. Irizarry Date: September 13, 2005


Definitions Inflectional Paradigms Derivational Paradigms Intonation Patterns Position or Word Order Form Class Words
Nouns Class I, Pronouns, Verbs Class II, Adjectives Class III, Adverbs Class IV

Function Words (determiners, conjunctions, others) Syntactic Combinations, Phrase Analysis, Immediate Constituent Analysis, and Sentence Formulas

What is syntax?

The forms that English words may be given and the sequences in which they are arranged with other words to express larger, more complex meanings make up the syntactic pattern or system of English. The syntax of English the third level of grammar and the third level of analysis deals with the more complex combinations of linguistic forms. Identification of a word class is not, then, a
matter of What do these words mean? but How do they fit into a pattern? What forms will they take? and How do they behave in combination with other forms? (1999, Herndon)

The way in which words are put together to form constructions (American Heritage Dictionary)

The devices used by structuralists for establishing word classes in English include consideration of ways in which certain types of words can be grouped into sets, called paradigms, on the basis of the inflectional and derivational affixes that they will take.

Inflectional paradigms
They are sets of forms. Each set is made up of a base form (singular), plus whatever morphemic changes either the addition of suffixes or sound changes or both may be used to adapt the base form to certain functions without changing the lexical meaning.
(1999, Herndon)

For example, the inflectional paradigm for the class form (NOUNS) is made up as follows.

Nouns inflectional paradigms

Base (singular)
Base Form + plural Base Form + possessive Base Form + Possessive plural



teachers teachers
teachers desk

teachers rights



students students

2. Derivational paradigms
Noun Derivational paradigms

Derivational paradigms are made up of sets of endings that may be attached to bases that may shift their lexical meaning or part of speech or both. Some examples of nounmarking derivational suffixes are hood, -ship, -ness, and ment. Words having these endings are recognized, even in isolation, as nouns. (1999,



dark (adj.)
darkness (N)

establish (V)
Establishment (N)

Other aspects of syntax

Intonation Patterns contrasts

made by the differences of stress, pitch, and juncture often identify a form as belonging to one word class or another. For example the difference between the noun contract and the verb contract, is determined by differences in intonation pattern.
(1999, Herndon)

Position or Word Order word classes are

usually identifiable on the basis of where they appear in a given sentence. Many words are not recognizable as a single part of speech when they are met in isolation. According to Herndon, we do not need the structuralists to prove this, but rather to rely on Websters Collegiate Dictionary, which lists the word round as adjective, noun, transitive verb, preposition, and adverb. In order to isolate the definition that you seek, you must have the word in a context.

Function Words

Some words in English may not make use of the structural paradigms. They have no inflectional or derivational endings. determiners They perform a function in the Auxiliary subordinators system outside of the verbs grammatical relationships they signify, they have little or no Function meaning. words qualifiers conjunctions The categories of function words are often called closed classes because new forms are rarely, if ever, added to them. prepositions interrogatives Function words represent only a few hundred of the more than half a million words in English. (1999, Herndon)

Form Class Words 1. Nouns Class I Words




Inflectional paradigm generally speaking, nouns are forms that will accept inflections. (slide # 5) Derivational paradigms many forms may be recognized as nouns on the basis of various noun-marking derivational suffixes added either to bound bases or to other words often words belonging to other classes. There are literally dozens of these endings. For example, -er, -or, and ment adapt verbs to use as nouns; Examples: verbs + derivational suffix = noun work + er = worker play + er = player stimulate + or = stimulator govern + ment = government Intonation Pattern differences of stress may distinguish nouns from verbs (slide # 7). Heavier stress on the first syllable almost always signals a noun; heavier stress on the second signals a verb. noun -sspect / verb -suspct

4. Position or Word Order

Nouns fill certain characteristic positions in relation to other parts of speech. The most obvious is that just before the verb. Examples: The _____ is here. These _____ are beautiful! 5. Function Words In English, noun determiners immediately precede nouns or precede them with certain words in between. Some noun determiners never appear except when followed by a noun and invariably signal its coming. These are the articles the, a, and an and the possessive pronouns my, your, our, and their. Other pronouns are quite frequently used as determiners, but have other functions as well. These are the demonstratives this, that, these, and those and the other possessive pronouns, his, her, and its.


When considered a separate class, pronouns are Class II words, but most school texts consider them a subcategory of nouns. In contrast to nouns, pronouns constitute a closed class no new pronouns have been added to English for hundreds of years. If anything, the class has become smaller instead, as few speakers now make use of the forms thee, thou, thy, and thine. Personal pronouns fall into an inflectional paradigm that is similar to, but not exactly like, that for nouns. Forms show both number and the possessive case, but they also show gender and the nominative and objective cases. Example: he / his / him (see enclosures) Pronouns, in most cases are identifiable by the ability of each to substitute for a type of noun or noun phrase. (1999, Herndon)

2. Verbs Class II Words

a. Inflectional Paradigm English verbs commonly have five forms , the base form
and four inflected forms. These inflections are the present 3rd person singular, the past, the present participle, and the past participle form. (see example below)

The present 3rd singular is similar in many ways to the noun inflections The past tense, or preterit, is commonly formed with the ed ending, but there are several irregular allomorphs. The present participle is formed by an ing suffix. The past participle makes use of ed and en endings or internal vowel changes. In a class by itself in many ways is the verb be, which has eight inflected forms (be, am, is, are, was, were, being, been) base 3rd sing. past present part. past part.






2. Verbs cont.
b. Derivational Paradigm Some verbs are marked by suffixes such as the ate ending added to bound bases and nouns, the ize added to bound bases, nouns, and adjectives, and the fy added to bound bases, nouns, and adjectives, and the prefix en added to nouns and some other verbs. Examples: summarize, beautify, locate, etc. c. Intonation Pattern See contrasts with nouns marked by intonation

d. Position or Word Order

Some positions mark verbs. Verbs commonly occupy the first position in requests, a position between two nouns or pronouns, or between noun and adjective or adverb. Heres a simple set of test frames for verbs.
1. 2. 3.

The child may___ something. The children ___ friendly. ___ you ____ me that?

e. Function Words function words that work with verbs are the various forms of have and be and the modals can, may, should, will, and others. (1999, Herndon)

3. Adjectives Class III Words


Inflectional Paradigms True adjectives commonly show comparative and superlative degrees by adding er and est inflections. Derived adjectives make use of the function words more and most for this purpose.

b. (Cont.) Adjectives are derived from other words by adding such endings as y, ic, and ous to nouns and bound bases; -ful and less to nouns; -able,-ent, and ive to verbs and bound bases.


Derivational Paradigms True adjectives fit into derivational patterns with nouns formed by adding the suffix ness to true adjectives and adverbs formed by adding the suffix ly to the same adjectives. (1999, Herndon) happy-happiness-happily

greedy 2. class classic 3. danger dangerous 4. need needful 5. home homeless 6. manage manageable 7. differ different 8. persuade persuasive

1. greed

4. Adverbs Class IV Words

Many adverbs share several structural distinctions with adjectives


Inflectional Paradigm c. In a few cases adverbs admit the comparative and superlative degree endings (er, est), usually they use more and most. Some adverbs have a base form that also serves as an adjective (fast, hard). In d. this case the class will depend upon other structural devices. (1999, Herndon) Derivational Paradigm the most common adverb-marking suffix is the ly added to adjectives (common + ly), (soft+ ly), (bare + ly). . There are other combinations.

Intonation Patterns The intonation patterns of larger structures often show adverbs patterning closely with verbs, in contrast to adjectives which usually pattern with nouns. Word Order Most adverbs in English are extremely mobile. Various types may fill any of several positions or positional combinations, but almost all can fill the position following a noun-verb-complement sequence like the following.
The boy ate his cookies _____. (1999, Herndon)

Function Words

Determiners The workings of the determiner class of function words is described in some detail under the form class with which they appear, the nouns or class I words. The most commonly used members are the, a, an, and some. Auxiliary Verbs Forms of the auxiliaries have and be work with various inflected forms of verbs. Modals are usually considered a subcategory because their operation is somewhat different from that of have and be. Other auxiliaries are forms of get and do. Qualifiers They work with both adjectives and adverbs. Some of the most frequently used are more, most, very, quite, rather, and somewhat. Prepositions They introduce modifying or qualifying phrases set apart by intonation pattern and the presence of the preposition form. They indicate the relation of words with other words. (eg. location, direction, time, etc.)

Function Words (cont.)

Conjunctions They always work as coordinators of linguistics forms or syntactic units having equal value. The two most frequently used are and and but. Subordinators they connect dependent clauses and include words such as because, after, although, unless, and so on, as well as the relative pronouns who, whose, which, and that. Interrogatives they operate in the formation of questions and include words such as when, where, why, how and so on, as well as the interrogative pronouns who, which, and what

Syntactic Combinations

When smaller structures enter into combinations, some consideration must be given to the relationship holding between them within the combination. For example, Birds fly consists of structures commonly called noun and verb. The combination is a larger structure called a sentence. Within the sentence both words have a structure and a function. Analysis of any larger structure involves sorting its parts into types of smaller structures and identifying the functions performed in the combination. Structural grammarians vary somewhat in the methods used to analyze complex grammatical structures in English. (1999, Herndon) This chapter discusses three of the principal methodologies used by grammarians. (1999, Herndon) a. phrase analysis b. immediate constituent analysis c. sentence formulas

Phrase Analysis

One of these methods begins with consideration of word clusters that are set apart on the basis of the intonation pattern that they show. A group of words appearing between well-defined junctures is described as a phrase or cluster. The principal word in each phrase is called the head word. In general, phrases function as units in larger structures, and they fall into groups based on the type of function the unit performs. Noun phrases, verb phrases, and various types of modifying or qualifying phrases adjectival, adverbial, prepositional, and so on may be defined. Analysis may then be made of relationships holding between the various types when they appear in various combinations. Finally, clause and sentence types may be defined. (1999, Herndon)

Immediate Constituent Analysis (IC)

The second method and perhaps the most widely used means of dealing with English syntax is the IC. Sentences are divided into their principal parts or immediate constituents. Each of these is then divided and subdivided until the ultimate constituents of the sentence are reached.

1. The boys / shyly touched the puppy. shyly touched / the puppy. The / boys / shyly / touched / the / puppy. Small puppies / are fat and frisky. are / fat and frisky. Small / puppies / are/ fat / and/ frisky.

Further cuts might even divide the plural morphemes from boy and puppy, the inflectional ed from touch and the ly from shy.

ICs structures and functions

In ICs the relationship is analyzed and identified after each cut is made. The first cut yields structures that function as subject and predicate. The boys shyly touched the puppy. (VP) verb phrase Predicate

Structures: (NP) noun phrase Functions: Subject

The second cut yields structures that function as verbal element and complement (or object) within the predicate The boys shyly touched the puppy.

Structures: Functions:

VP Verbal Element

NP Complement (Object)

ICs final cut

The boys shyly touched the puppy.

S. Det. Noun F. Mod. Head

Adverb Modifier

Verb Head

Det. Mod.

Noun Head

Among other things, this type of analysis gives rise to the practice of referring to noun-headed and verb-headed structures when speaking of phrases. (1999, Herndon)

Sentence Formulas

The third method is one that begins with a consideration of basic sentence patterns and proceeds to analyze the relationships between the different parts of the patterns Each of the parts of a very simple sentence can be expanded in various ways so that more complex sentence patterns and more complex layers of relationships are produced Sentence patterns of the simplest noun-verb-noun, noun-verb-adjective types are considered first. The sentence parts are designated by the numbers and letters assigned to their form class or function word groups. (1999, Herndon)

A short sample list might include these groups:

Form Class Words 1. Noun or pronoun 2. Verb 3. Adjective 4. Adverb

Function Words D. Determiner A. Auxiliary Q. Qualifier P. Preposition

Practice Exercises

Sentence Type I 1-2

variations D12 The woman spoke. D 3 1 2 The beautiful woman spoke. D1 24 DQ312 variations D123 D3123 D12Q3 D312Q3

Sentence Type II 123

Sentence Type III 121

variations D121 D1PD121 D121PD1

Sentence Type IV


Structural analysis of English syntax divides the parts of speech into form class words and function words. Categories of form class words are identified on the basis of the following criteria: 1. inflectional paradigm 2. derivational paradigm 3. intonation pattern 4. word order 5. function words that work with them Several methods of phrase and sentence analysis have been used by structuralists. The most influential one is called immediate constituent (IC) analysis. (1999, Herndon)


Herndon, J.H. (1999). A Survey of modern grammars (2nd Facsim ed.). Forth Worth, TX.: Hartcourt College Publishers. Verspoor, M., Sauter, K. (2000). English sentence analysis: an introductory course. Philadelphia, PA. John Benjamins Publishing Co. Benson, M., Benson, E., & Ilson, R. (1997). The BBI dictionary of English word combinations. Philadelphia, PA. John Benjamins Publishing Co. American Heritage Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Co.