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English Sentence Analysis and Practice Week 2. Constituents, Clauses and Trees Sentences can be analyzed into subparts which we referred to as constituents
Constituents • The words that make up a sentence like… – The students did their syntax assignment. • …are grouped together into component parts, constituents, which function together as a unit. • Among them, [the students], the do-ers, and [their syntax assignment], the done.
Phrases • An important type of constituent is the phrase, which has at least a central core word (the head of the phrase) and often other words or phrases related to the head. • The category of the head determines the category of the phrase. • The happy students is a noun phrase, headed by the noun students. Happy modifies students, the specifies which students.
Sentences • Complete sentences need to have a subject and a verb. – John left. – *John. – *Left. – The happy students left speedily. • So sentences are made of noun phrases and verb phrases.
Trees • We can start by drawing the structure of a sentence like this, which means: “John left is a sentence composed of a Noun Phrase (composed of John) and a Verb Phrase (composed of left). ” S NP VP N V John left
Finding constituents • How do we find constituents in a sentence? For many of them, we can guess, but a guess isn’t evidence. If sentences and phrases have structure, we should be able to test for this structure.
1. Replacement (Substitution) test • A constituent is a group of words which function as a unit. If you can replace part of the sentence with another constituent (the smallest constituent being a single word, a proform), this tells us that the replaced section of the sentence is a constituent. • This isn’t foolproof, but it usually works if you try to keep the meaning as close as possible.
1. Replacement (Substitution) test – The students left. – They left. • The students is a constituent. – The students ate the sandwiches. – They ate the sandwiches. – The students ate them. – The students dined. (They dined. ) • [The students] [ate [the sandwiches]].
Exercise 1 Find a proform and which part has been replaced by it in the following sentences. (1)They say that Wayne is very unhappy and so he is. (2) Our neighbours will go on holiday on Sunday, and we will leave then too. (3) Tim sat on the couch and stayed there. (4) Janet drove her car too fast, and Sam rode his bike likewise. (5)He said that the operation will be successful. I certainly hope so.
2. Sentence fragment test • Generally, only constituents can be used in the fragmentary response to a question. – Who ate the sandwiches? • The students. *The. – What did the students do? • Ate the sandwiches. *Ate the. – What did the students eat? • The sandwiches. • [The students] [ate [the sandwiches]].
3. Movement tests—clefting • If you can move a sequence of words together to another part of a sentence that means roughly the same thing, that sequence of words is a constituent. • Clefting involves creating a sentence of the shape It was Focus Position who/that — out of your sentence. • Only constituents can occur in the focus position of a cleft.
3. Movement tests—clefting • The students ate the sandwiches. – It was [the students] who ate the sandwiches. – It was [the sandwiches] that the students ate. – *It was [eat the sandwiches] what the students did. – What the students did was [eat the sandwiches]. (Pseudocleft) – *It was [the students eat] that did the sandwiches. – *It was [the] that students ate the sandwiches. • [The students] [ate [the sandwiches]]. • *[[The students] ate] [the sandwiches].
Exercise 2 Give the cleft versions of the following sentences, and underline the elements in the focus position. Michael loudly announced the election victory. (1)It was _______ that Michael loudly announced. (2) It was _____ who loudly announced the election victory. (3) It was _____ that Michael announced the election victory. (4) What Michael loudly did was ______. (5) What Michael did was ____.
4. Movement tests—preposing • Preposing involves creating a sentence by putting a constituent at the beginning of the sentence of this form: – — is/are who/what/… — – The students ate the sandwiches. – [The students] were who ate the sandwiches. – [The sandwiches] were what the students ate. – [Eat the sandwiches] was what the students did. – *[The] was what students ate the sandwiches.
5. Coordination test • Generally you can replace a constituent of a certain type X with another constituent of type [X and Y]. – – [The students] ate the sandwiches. [[John] and [the students]] ate the sandwiches. The students ate [the sandwiches] The students ate [[the sandwiches] and [the eggrolls]]. • This shows two things: (1) The students is the same kind of constituent (NP) as John, and (2) the students and John are each constituents (as is John and the students). • Only constituents can be coordinated.
Exercise 3 Underline coordinated parts in the following examples. (1)Frank washed his shirts yesterday and last week. (2) Frank washed his shirts yesterday and polished his shoes last week. (3) Frank washed and ironed his shirts yesterday. (4) Anna loudly and cheerfully announced the election victory. (5) Anna loudly announced the election victory and cheerfully gave an interview to the press.
Trees and constituency • [The students] [ate [the sandwiches]] The students ate the sandwiches
Trees and constituency • [The students] [ate [the sandwiches]] The students constituent ate the sandwiches constituent
Trees and constituency • [The students] [ate [the sandwiches]] The students ate constituent the sandwiches
Exercise 4 Assign the function labels (Subject, Direct Object, Adjunct, etc. ) to the underlined phrases in the following sentences. (1) Smith opened a can of Coke. (2) Who said that? (3) Benny worked in a shoe factory when he was a student. (4) The lecturer from France who talked about Wittgenstein yesterday left.
Exercise 5 Identify the subjects and predicates of the following sentences, giving one or more of the reasons for the subjects. (1) There are too many uninvited guests here. (2) It was Lydia who finally trapped the pig. (3) The fact that you received no birthday greetings from Mars doesn't mean that it is uninhabited. (4) That evening, Laura learned the Health and Safety Regulations by heart.
Phrases and constituents • The constituents we have identified are the noun phrases and the verb phrase, which have internal pieces as well. • The is a determiner (D). • Students and sandwiches are nouns, heading the Noun Phrase (NP). • Ate is a verb, heading the Verb Phrase (VP)
Trees and constituency • [The students] [ate [the sandwich]] S NP D VP N The students V ate NP D N the sandwich
Trees and constituency • A sentence has a hierarchical structure • Constituents can have constituents of their own. • The simplest way to draw this is with a tree. PP P on NP D N the table
Trees • The tree diagram is the most important analytical notation we will work with, and we will use a lot of trees through the semester, so it is important to be able to understand draw trees.
Drawing trees • Suppose the task is to draw the tree structure of a simple sentence. – The student put the book on the table.
Drawing Trees The first step is to identify the category of each of the words in the sentence. D The N V student put D the N book P on D the N table
So, we draw an NP above the table, the student, the book. NP NP NP D N The student V put D the N book P on D the N table
Drawing Trees Sure, we can draw in a PP for on the table. Compare this sentence to The student saw the book on the table What is the difference between them with respect to on the table? NP NP D PP N The student V put D the NP N book P on D the N table
Drawing Trees Only one choice is the right choice. How do we know which one it is? Golden Rule of Modifiers: Modifiers are always attached within the phrase they modify. NP ? PP NP D N The student V put D the N book P on D the N table
Drawing Trees Using the idea that the sentence has an NP and a VP, we can complete the tree. VP NP PP NP D N The student V put D the NP N P book on D the N table
Drawing Trees And that’s our tree for The student put the book on the table. (1) S VP NP PP NP D The N student V put D the NP N book P on D the N table
Exercise 6 On the basis of the tree diagram below, say which of the following sequences are constituents of A. (1) c + d (2) a + b + c (3) c + d + e + f (4) e + f (5) e + f + g + h (6) g + h (7) E + C (8) D + E (9) F + g + h (10) F + g A B D a b c C E F de f g h
Exercise 7 In sentence (1), there are two separate sequences of words which can be omitted without affecting the grammaticality of the sentence. Identify them. (1) The very muscular gentleman next to me lit a cigar. So, we can say that they are optional constituents in the structure of sentence (1).
Exercise 8 Decide whether the underlined strings in the following sentences are constituents of those sentences or not justifying your answer with the test of replacement or question. Note that (e) is ambiguous. You should identify the two interpretations and say on which interpretation the underlined sequence forms a constituent. (a) John considered visiting his great aunt. (b) Rory put a silencer on the gun. (c) Maria simply gazed at the bollard she had just demolished. (d) In the machine the gremlin could be heard juggling with ball-bearings. (e) Sam managed to touch the man with the umbrella.
Exercise 9 Tell if each of the sentences is grammatical. If not, say why. (1)The books about New York that she bought nobody liked. (2) The books about New York nobody liked _ that she bought. (3) Ralph says that he will clean his room, and clean he will _ his room. (4) Ralph says that he will clean his room, and clean his room he will _.
Exercise 10 (5) It was yesterday that Frank washed his shirts. (6) It was his shirts yesterday that Frank washed. (7) John cleaned the windows diligently, but Bill did so lazily. (8) Bill hired a big Jaguar, and Mary did so a Volkswagen.