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Syntagmatic and paradigmatic

relations in Grammar
Syntagmatic relations
• are immediate linear relations between units
in a segmental sequence.
• The combination of two words or word-
groups one of which is modified by the other
forms a unit which is reffered to as a syntactic
” syntagma”.
There are four main types of notional
1. predicative (the combination of a subject and
a predicate),
2. objective (-/- a verb and its object),
3. attributive (a noun and attribute),
4. adverbial (a modified notional word, such as
a verb, adjective, or adverb, with its adverbial
Paradigmatic relations
• The other type of relations, opposed to
syntagmatic and called “paradigmatic”, are
such as exist between elements of the system
outside the strings where they co-occur.
Unlike syntagmatic relations, paradigmatic
relations cannot be directly observed in
utterances, that is why they are reffered to as
relations “in absentia”.
Paradigmatic relations
• coexist with syntagmatic relations in such a
way that some sort of syntagmatic connection
is necessery for the realization of any
paradigmatic series. This is especially evident
in a classical grammatical paradigm which
presents a productive series of forms each
consisting of a syntagmatic connection of two
elements: one common for the whole of the
series, the other specific for every individual
form in the series.
Paradigmatic relations
• A linguistic unit can enter into relations of two different kinds. It
enters into paradigmatic relations with all the units that can also
occur in the same environment. PR are relations based on the
principles of similarity. They exist between the units that can
substitute one another.
For instance, in the word-group A PINT OF MILK the word PINT is in
paradigmatic relations with the words bottle, cup, etc. The article A
can enter into PR with the units the, this, one, same, etc.
• According to different principles of similarity PR can be of three
• semantic,
• formal
• functional.
Semantic PR
• are based on the similarity of meaning:
a book to read = a book for reading.
He used to practice English every day –
He would practice English every day.
Formal PR
• are based on the similarity of forms.
Such relations exist between the members of a
man – men;
play – played – will play – is playing
Functional PR
• are based on the similarity of function.
They are established between the elements that
can occur in the same position.
For instance, noun determiners: a, the, this, his,
Ann’s, some, each, etc.
• PR are associated with the sphere of
Syntagmatic relations
• A linguistic unit enters into syntagmatic relations with other
units of the same level it occurs with.
• SR exist at every language level.
• E.g. in the word-group A PINT OF MILK the word PINT
contrasts SR with A, OF, MILK; within the word PINT – P, I, N
and T are in syntagmatic relations.
• SR are linear relations, that is why they are manifested in
• They can be of three different types:
1. coordinate,
2. subordinate
3. predicative
Syntagmatic presentation deals with
relations among particular elements in
a text.
• It needs considerable imagination to catch on
to the fact of how difficult it is for scientists
first to lead off experiments on AIDS and then
follow them up when the state is constantly
short of money.5
• 1. it needs considerable imagination + full
2. how difficult it is + for somebody + full
3. an experiment + on + noun
4. to be short of + noun
5. lead off – begin
6. follow up – develop
7. catch on to – understand
Coordinate SR
• exist between the homogeneous linguistic
units that are equal in rank,
• they are the relations of independence:
you and me; They were tired but happy.
Subordinate SR
• are the relations of dependence when one
linguistic unit depends on the other:
• teach + er – morphological level;
• a smart student – word-group level;
predicative and subordinate clauses –
sentence level.
Predicative SR
• are the relations of interdependence:
primary and secondary predication.
• SR may be observed in utterances, which is
impossible when we deal with PR.
• Therefore, PR are identified with ‘language’
while SR are identified with ‘speech’.
Syntagmatic relations
• are important for determining the meaning of
a poly-semantic word because different
senses of poly-semantic words are revealed in
the context (yellow dress — yellow press).
• Linguistic. Lexical valence of the word — the lexical
contexts that a word may be used in.
a. Lexical — includes LU combined with the poly-semantic
word which helps to determine its senses or meaning
(heavy box, heavy rain, heavy industry).
b. Grammatical — is the grammatical structure of the
phrase that helps to determine the sense of a poly-
semantic word (to make a cake, to make smb do smth, to
make a splendid actress).
c. Semantic — is a common use of words in certain
repeatedly used environment (to solve the problem, to
identify the problem, a complicated problem).
- Extra-linguistic — is constituted by the speech situation in
which the word is used (I'll give you a ring — )
• I don't like light music' ,Nu-mi place muzica
ușoare' ..
• Can you play from music? ,,Poți cînta la prima
• This is the first music that he ever composed'
E prima lucrare muzicală pe care a compus-o"
• She has no music in her ,,Nu are deloc simț