Structure of sentence
1. The Sentence
2. Structure of English Sentence
3. Parts of the Sentence
The theme of my course paper sounds as following: «Structure of Sentence in English». Before beginning of investigation in our theme, I would like to say some words dealt with the theme of my course paper.
When studying the structure of a unit, we find out its components, mostly units of the next lower level, their arrangement and their functions as parts of the unit. Many linguists think that the investigation of the components and their arrangement suffices. Thus Holliday writes: «Each unit is characterized by certain structures. The structure is a syntagmatic framework of interrelated elements, which are paradigmatically established in the systems of classes and stated as values in the structure…. if a unit 'word' is established there will be dimensions of word-classes the terms in which operate as values in clause structures: given a verb /noun/ adverb system of word classes, it might be that the structures ANV and NAV were admitted in the clause but NVA excluded».
Standing on such ground, I would like to point out tasks and aims of my work
1. The first task of my work is to give definition to term «sentence».
2. The second task is to describe the structure of sentences in English.
3. The last task of my work is to characterize types of parts of the sentence.
In our opinion the practical significance of our work is hard to be overvalued. This work reflects modern trends in linguistics and we hope it would serve as a good manual for those who want to master modern English language. Also this work can be used by teachers of English language for teaching English grammar.
The present work might find a good way of implying in the following spheres:
1. In High Schools and scientific circles of linguistic kind it can be successfully used by teachers and philologists as modern material for writing research works dealing with English verbs.
2. It can be used by teachers of schools, lyceums and colleges by teachers of English as a practical manual for teaching English grammar.
3. It can be useful for everyone who wants to enlarge his/her knowledge in English.
After having proved the actuality of our work, I would like to describe the composition of it:
My work consists of four parts: introduction, the main part, conclusion and bibliography. Within the introduction part we gave the brief description of our course paper. The main part of the work includes several items. There we discussed such problems as the types of sentences in English, their construction, parts of the sentence, and etc. In the conclusion to our work we tried to draw some results from the scientific investigations made within the present course paper. In bibliography part we mentioned some sources which were used while compiling the present work. It includes linguistic books and articles dealing with the theme, a number of used dictionaries and encyclopedias and also some internet sources.
1. The Sentence
The notion of sentence has not so far received a satisfactory definition, which would enable us by applying it in every particular case to find out whether a certain linguistic unit was a sentence or not.
Thus, for example, the question remains undecided whether such shop notices as Book Shop and such book titles as English are sentences or not. In favour of the view that they are sentences the following consideration can be brought forward. The notice Book Shop and the title English Grammar mean 'This is a book shop', 'This is an English Grammar'; the phrase is interpreted as the predicative of a sentence whose subject and link verb have been omitted, that is, it is apprehended as a unit of communication. According to the other possible view, such notices as Book Shop and such titles as English Grammar are not units of communication at all, but units of nomination, merely appended to the object they denote. Since there is as yet no definition of a sentence which would enable us to decide this question, it depends on everyone's subjective view which alternative he prefers. We will prefer the view that such notices and book titles are not sentences but rather nomination units.
We also mention here a special case. Some novels have titles formulated as sentences, e. g. The Stars Look Down, by A. Cronin, or They Came to a City, by J.B. Priestley. These are certainly sentences, but they are used as nomination units, for instance, Have you read The Stars Look Down? Do you like They Came to a City?
With the rise of modern ideas of paradigmatic syntax yet another problem concerning definition of sentence has to be considered.
In paradigmatic syntax, such units as He has arrived, He has not arrived, Has he arrived, He will arrive, He will not arrive, Will he arrive, etc., are treated as different forms of the same sentence, just as arrives, has arrived, will arrive etc., are different forms of the same verb. We may call this view of the sentence the paradigmatic view.
Now from the point of view of communication, He has arrived and He has not arrived are different sentences since they convey different information (indeed, the meaning of the one flatly contradicts that of the other).
2. Structure of English Sentence
When studying the structure of a unit, we find out its components, mostly units of the next lower level, their arrangement and their functions as parts of the unit.
Many linguists think that the investigation of the components and their arrangement suffices. Thus Holliday writes: «Each unit is characterized by certain structures. The structure is a syntagmatic framework of interrelated elements, which are paradigmatically established in the systems of classes and stated as values in the structure…. if a unit 'word' is established there will be dimensions of word-classes the terms in which operate as values in clause structures: given a verb /noun/ adverb system of word classes, it might be that the structures ANV and NAV were admitted in the clause but NVA excluded».
Now ‘a syntagmatic framework of interrelated elements' may describe the structure of a combination of units as well as that of a higher unit, a combination of words as well as a sentence or a clause. The-important properties that unite the interrelated elements into a higher unit of which they become parts, the function of each element as part of the whole, are not mentioned.
Similarly, Z. Harris thinks that the sentence The fear of war grew can be described as TN1PN2V, where T stands for article, N for noun, P for preposition and V for verb.
Such descriptions are feasible only if we proceed from the notion that the difference between the morpheme, the word and the sentence is not one of quality but rather of quantity and arrangement.
Z. Harris does not propose to describe the morpheme (as he calls it) is as VC, where V stands for vowel and C for consonant. He does not do so because he regards a morpheme not as an arrangement of phonemes, but as a unit of a higher level possessing some quality (namely, meaning) not found in any phoneme or combination of phonemes outside the morpheme.
Since we assume that not only the phoneme and the morpheme, but also the word and the sentence are units of different levels, we cannot agree to the view that a sentence is merely an arrangement of words.
In our opinion, The fear of war grew is a sentence not because it is TNPNV, but because it has properties not inherent in words. It is a unit of communication and as such it possesses predicativity and intonation. On the other hand, TNPNV stands also for the fear of war growing, the fear of war to grow, which are not sentences.
As to the arrangement of words in the sentence above, it fully depends upon their combinability. We have TN and not NT because an article has only right-hand connections with nouns. A prepositional phrase, on the contrary has left-hand connections with nouns; that is why we have TNPN, etc.
The development of transform grammar (Harris, Chomsky) and tagmemic grammar (Pike) is to a great extent due to the realization of the fact that «an attempt to describe grammatical structure in terms of morpheme classes alone – even successively inclusive classes of classes – is insufficient».
As defined by Harris, the approach of transformational grammar differs from the above-described practice of characterizing «each linguistic entity… as composed out of specified ordered entities at a lower level» in presenting «each sentence as derived in accordance with a set of transformational rules, from one or more (generally simpler) sentences, i.e. from other entities of the same level. A language is then described as consisting of specified sets of kernel sentences and a set of transformations».
For English Harris lists seven principal patterns of kernel sentences:
1. NvV (v stands for a tense morpheme or an auxiliary verb, i.e. for a (word-) morpheme containing the meanings of predicativity).
4. N is N
5. N is A (A stands for adjective)
6. N is PN
7. N is D (D stands for adverb)
As one can easily see, the patterns above do not merely represent arrangements of words, they are such arrangements which contain predicativity – the most essential component of a sentence. Given the proper intonation and replaced by words 4hat conform to the rules of combinability, these patterns will become actual sentences. Viewed thus, the patterns may be regarded as language models of speech sentences.
One should notice, however, that the difference between the patterns above is not, in fact, a reflection of any sentence peculiarities. It rather reflects the difference in the combinability of various subclasses of verbs.
The difference between ‘NvV and ‘NvVN’, for instance, reflects the different combinability of a non-transitive and a transitive verb (He is sleeping: He is writing letters. Cf. to sleep, to write letters). The difference between those two patterns and ‘N is A’ reflects the difference in the combinability of notional verbs and link verbs, etc.
A similar list of patterns is recommended to language teachers under the heading These are the basic patterns for all English sentences:
1. Birds fly.
2. Birds eat worms.
3. Birds are happy.
4. Birds are animals.
5. Birds give me happiness.
6. They made me president.
7. They made me happy.
The heading is certainly rather pretentious. The list does not include sentences with zero predications or with partially implied predicativity while it displays the combinability of various verb classes.
S. Potter reduces the number of kernel sentences to three: «All simple sentences belong to one of three types:
A. The sun warms the earth;
B. The sun is a star; and
C. The sun is bright.»
And as a kind of argument he adds: «Word order is changeless in A and B, but not in C. Even in sober prose a man may say Bright is the sun.»
The foregoing analysis of kernel sentences, from which most English sentences can be obtained, shows that «every sentence can be analysed into a centre, plus zero or more constructions… The centre is thus an elementary sentence; adjoined constructions are in general modifiers». S In other words, the essential structure constituting a sentence is the predication; all other words are added to it in accordance with their combinability. This is the case in an overwhelming majority of English sentences. Here are some figures based on the investigation of modern American non-fiction.
Frequency of occurrence
|as sole pattern||in combination|
Subject + verb
Subject + verb + object
Girls like clothes.
Subject + verb + predicative
Dictionaries are books.
Dictionaries are useful.
Structural subjects + verb +
+ notional subject
There is evidence.
It is easyo learn knitting.
Are you sure?
Whom did you invite?
Brush your teeth. What a day
Some analogy can be drawn between the structure of a word and the structure of a sentence.
The morphemes of a word are formally united by stress. The words of a sentence are formally united by intonation.
The centre of a word is the root. The centre of a sentence is the predication.
Some words have no other morphemes but the root (ink, too, but). Some sentences have no other words but those of the predication (Birds fly. It rains. Begin.).
Words may have some morphemes besides the root (unbearable). Sentences may have some words besides the predication (Yesterday it rained heavily.).
Sometimes a word is made of a morpheme that is usually not a root (ism). Sometimes sentences are made of words that are usually not predications (Heavy rain).
Words may have two or more roots (blue-eyed, merry-go-round). Sentences may have two or more predications (He asked me if I knew where she lived.).
The roots may be co-ordinated or subordinated (Anglo-Saxon, blue-bell). The predications may be co-ordinated and subordinated (She spoke and he listened. He saw Sam did not believe).
The roots may be connected directly (footpath) or indirectly, with the help of some morpheme salesman. The predications may be connected directly (7 think he knows) or indirectly, with the help of some word (The day passed as others had-passed.).
The demarcation line between a word with more than one root and a combination of words is often very vague (cf. blackboard and black board, brother-in-law and brother in arms). The demarcation line between a sentence with more than one predication and a combination of sentences is often very vague.
Cf. She’d only to cross the pavement. But still she waited. (Mansfield).
As we know, a predication in English is usually a combination of two words (or word-morphemes) united by predicativity, or, in other