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Ways of expressing parts of the sentence


§ 32. Any part of the sentence may be expressed in four ways, that is, by a single word-form or a word-form preceded by a formal word, by a phrase, by a predicative complex, or by a clause. The only exception is the verbal predicate which can be neither a predicative complex nor a clause.



§ 33. A word-form is any form of the grammatical paradigm of the word. Girl, girls, girl’s, girls'; to write, writes, wrote, is writing, has been written, will have been writing, etc.; pale, paler; brilliant, more brilliant, most brilliant are all word-forms.

As seen from the above a word-form may contain either one component or more than one. One-component word-forms are various synthetic forms of the word, while multi-component word-forms are analytical forms of the word which are composed of оne or more auxiliary components and one notional component. The auxiliary components may be verbs (be, have, do, shall, will), adverbs (more, most), particles (to).



In grammar we usually deal with word-forms, not words, though it is customary to make use of the term

“word” in the sense of “word-form” as well. So in the following chapters both these terms will be used in

the sense of “word-form”, “word-form” being more exact, “word” having the advantage of being shorter.


§ 34. A phrase is a group of two or more notional words functioning as a whole. Besides notional words a phrase may contain one or more formal words. Compare: to see her - to look at her.

Depending on the relation between its components, phrases may be divided into two kinds: phrases which are divisible both syntactically and semantically, and phrases which are indivisible either syntactically or semantically, or both.

Phrases which are divisible both syntactically and semantically


§ 35. Phrases of this kind contain a headword and one or more word-forms dependent on it. Here the following kinds of phrases may be distinguished: nominal, verbal, adjectival, adverbial and statival phrases.


1. In nominal phrases the headword is a noun, a noun-pronoun, or a numeral modified by one or more word-forms. The latter are mostly adjectives, nouns, or pronouns with prepositions, although they may be participles or infinitives. They may have dependent words of their own: a new way, a very good friend, a recently built house, the years to come, etc.; something curious, anything so unexpected, everybody staying here, all of them, nothing to say; tire first of May, the second to enter, etc. Their relation to the headword is attributive. Phrases of this kind function as nouns treated separately.

The man sat on the sofa. (subject and adverbial modifier expressed by nouns) The old man was sitting in a big armchair. (subject and adverbial modifier expressed by nominal phrases)


2. In verbal phrases the headword is a verbal which has one or more word-forms dependent on it. The latter are mostly nouns, noun-pronouns, or adverbs, each of which may have its own dependent words: to know him, to see her again, going home in the evening, speaking a foreign language. In all these phrases syntactical relations between the headwords and dependent words are either objective (him, her, a language) or adverbial (again, home, in the evening). Phrases of this kind function according to the nature of their headwords, that is, in the same way as their headwords do when used separately.

To see is to believe. (subject expressed by an infinitive) To see you here is a real pleasure. (subject expressed by an infinitive phrase)
Do you like swimming? (object expressed by a gerund) I hate swimming in cold water. (object expressed by a gerundial phrase)


3. In adjective phrases the headword is an adjective which has some words dependent on it. They are usually adverbs or nouns with a preposition, or an infinitive. These may have dependent words of their own: quite true, too big, wonderfully clever, kind enough, absent from classes, true to his word, unable to say a word, etc. Their relation to the headword is either adverbial (where the dependent word is an adverb) or objective (where the dependent word is a noun with a preposition or an infinitive). Such phrases perform the same functions as adjectives used alone.


She has a kind heart. (attribute expressed by an adjective)   It was a very dark night. (attribute expressed by an adjective phrase)
Are you angry? (predicative expressed by an adjective) Are you quite ready? (predicative expressed by an adjective phrase)


4. In adverbial phrases the headword is an adverb modified by some other adverb or (very seldom) by a noun/pronoun with a preposition: very happily, rather well, heartily enough, fortunately for the boy, etc. Their relation to the headword is either adverbial (in this case the modifying word is an adverb) or objective (in this case it is a noun with a preposition). Such phrases function like separate adverbs.


She thanked him warmly. (adverbial modifier expressed by an adverb) He set to work heartily enough. (adverbial modifier expressed by an adverbial phrase)


5. Instatival phrases where the headword is a stative modified either by a noun with a preposition, or by an adverb, or by an infinitive, each of which may have dependent words of its own: aware of the danger, afraid of cold water, so deeply asleep, quite alone, afraid to go home, ashamed to tell her about it, etc. Their relation to the headword is either adverbial (the dependent word is an adverb) or objective (in this case it is a noun with a preposition or an infinitive). Such phrases function as the corresponding statives do when used separately.


The whole land was aflame. (predicative expressed by a stative) The sky above themseemed afire with stars. (predicative expressed by a statival phrase)


As is seen from the above, the relations between the headword and dependent words within these phrases (1-5) may be of three kinds: attributive, objective, or adverbial.

Phrases which are indivisible either syntactically or semantically or both

§ 36. Phrases of this kind contain two or more notional word-forms used together to designate a person or a non-person, an action or a quality. Syntactical relations between their components are not always explicit, and so they are not analysed separately.

Here belong:


1.Groups of words that name one thing or one unit.


Will you allow me another half an hour?

Here is your needle and thread.


2. Groups of words denoting an indefinite number or amount of things.

A lot of unpleasant things have been said.


3. Groups of words denoting arithmetical calculations.

Two plus two is four.

Ten by three equals thirty.

Four from nine leaves five.


4. Groups of words consisting of two or more proper names belonging to one person.

George Gordon Byron was born in 1788.


5. Groups of words which form one geographical name.

New York is the largest city in the United States of America.


6. Groups of words containing a proper name and a noun denoting an occupation, a title, a rank, a relatioship, or naming a species of animal.


How do you do, Doctor Brown?

Mrs. Poppets brought the tray in.

The boy looked up at Colonel Julian.

He always reminds me of my Uncle Podger.

The dog Charlie was full of importance.



However these groups of words allow of another interpretation: the first word may be treated as a non-

detached apposition. See § 92.


7. Groupsof words containing a verb and a noun denoting an action.


She looked at him and gave a sigh.

Please, don’t make trouble.


8. Adverbial groups of words.


He came two minutes ago.

A week later she began to recover.


Phrases of this kind (1-8) function in the sentence in accordance with their nominal, verbal or adverbial nature as one whole. (See the examples above.)

Predicative complexes


§ 37. Predicative complexes differ from phrases in that they have two words with predicative relation between the nominal and the verbal parts of the phrase. These words in their turn may have one or more words dependent on them. Though the predicative relation within a complex is grammatically only implicit, its presence makes it possible to turn any predicative complex into a clause, which cannot be done to a phrase.


I saw him run ——> I saw that he was running.

He still found life interesting ——> He still found that life was interesting.


Predicative complexes are dealt with in full in § 124-132.


§ 38. Clauses, like predicative complexes, contain two words connected predicatively, but unlike predicative complexes the predicative relation in clauses is expressed explicitly in the grammatical forms of the subject and the predicate.


I don’t know what you mean.

She came when nobody was in.



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