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Structure of Predication
Meeting 5
Some administrative matters
• Have U visited the blog and contributed
• If no, you’d better start soon.
• The basic structure of structure of
predication is:
Subject + Predicate
But is it always like this?
What do you think?
• The subject and predicate can be either of
the following:
- a single word
- a word with accompanying function
- a phrase, or
- one of the syntactic structures:
modification, complementation, or
• Specifically the subject can be a structure
of predication also which is defined as
included clause
• The predicate consists of a verb and a
verb phrase in key position
- Money talks
- Courtesy always pays
- The sun sets in the west
• A predicate can be filled by a structure of
complementation, such as:
- the snow was cold
- The clerk sold me the shirt
- My neighbour painted his house green
• A predicate can also consist of a structure of
coordination, such as:
- We walked and talked
- People either like this place or hate it
• So we can temporarily conclude that:
predicate has verb component in it either
as a single verb though seldom or a more
or less complex structure with the verb at
its core or the heart of the matter.
• Thus it needs to be clearly known that VERB is
classified into seven heads:
- person
- tense
- phase
- aspect
- mode
- voice, and
- status
• In terms of person, verb can be classified
in common and third singular. Examples:
the man walks, he feels, this looks good,
the tall man in the car drives, eating candy
causes tooth decay, what I want costs
money, either his mistakes or his bad luck
keeps him poor.
• In terms of Tense, there are two tenses:
common (present) and past (preterit).
They are shown by the inflexion attached
to the verbs: Common: base / base + (-s),
while Past: (base + (-ed).
• The be has its exceptional forms (is, am,
are: present and was, were: past)
• In terms of Phase, there are two phases:
simple and perfect (have + past participle
verb). Examples:
- I speak
vs I have spoken
- We work vs We have worked
• In terms of Aspect, there are three:
- simple: the verb is unmarked
- durative: be + base+ing
- inchoative: get+ present participle
• In terms of Mode, it can be seen from:
- the modal auxiliaries + base form: must
go, may come, should see,etc., and
- certain other auxiliaries + infinitive
(to+base form): used to study, ought to
come, have to go, etc.
• In terms of Voice, there are two voices: Active
and passive voices. Passive is formed by the
aux. be + past participle verb or get+ past
participle verb.
- He kills
he is killed/He gets killed
- They built a house
A house was built
- We have done the work
The work has been
• Can you analyze these two?
- The man was informed by his wife
- The man was informed about politics
• In terms of status, verbs has four statues:
affirmative, interrogative, negative, and
negative interrogative. Examples:
- He is working
He works
- He is not working
He does not work
- Is he working?
Does he work?
- Isn’t he working?
Doesn’t he work?
• What’s the difference between
Doesn’t he work? And
Does he not work?
Functions in the Verb Phrase (VP)
• Head: V
• Dependents:
– Pre-head modifier: AdvP
– Post-head modifier: AdvP/PP
– (Post-head) complement:
Subject:NP Tense:AUX
head:V PtHdMod:AdvP
The boy
very quickly
Subject:NP Tense:AUX
The boy
very quickly
Types of Complement in the VP
• Direct Object: NP
• Indirect Object: NP
• Prepositional Phrase Complement (PPC): PP
• Subject Predicative Complement (PCS): NP/AdjP
• Object Predicative Complement (PCO): NP/AdjP
Post-head modifiers in VP are often referred to as adjuncts
Direct Object (DO) Function in VP
• The direct object function is filled by NP
– The dogs chased the cats.
• If the direct object is a pronoun, the pronoun is in
Accusative case form.
– The dogs chased them. (*they)
• In basic sentences, the direct object NP comes
immediately after the verb
– *The dogs chased [quickly] them.
• Exception: if there is also an indirect object NP
– The boy bought [the girl] an icecream.
Unlike PP complements in NPs and AdjPs the direct
object (DO) NP is usually obligatory in English
The boy discovered the treasure.
The boy discovered it.
*The boy discovered.
The discovery of the treasure
The discovery
Indirect Object (IO) function in VP
• Indirect object (IO) function is only filled by NP
• IO follows V and precedes DO
– I gave my brother [a new bicycle].
• The IO pronoun is Accusative (or Reflexive)
Accusative IO I baked him a cake
Reflexive IO I baked myself a cake
Preposition Phrase Complement in VP
• a PP may fill a complement function in a VP
• It may be the only complement
– John relies on his friend.
• It may follow an NP (DO) complement
– John put [the book] on the table.
• As with PP complements in an NP or AdjP, the
choice of preposition is restricted by the verb.
– relies on/*in/*from; believes in/*on/*about
Subjective Predicative Complement (PCS)
• PCS is filled by NP or by AdjP
• PCS comes directly after the verb
• The PCS describes an attribute or property of the
referent of the subject NP
– The man saw a doctor. (DO)
– The man became a doctor. (PCS)
– *The man saw very clever. (DO)
– The man became very clever. (PCS)
Another property of PCS
• If the PCS is a NP, it normally agrees with the subject NP
The gentleman is a lawyer.
The gentlemen are lawyers.
*The gentleman is lawyers.
*The gentlemen are a lawyer.
• Only a limited set of verbs take an NP as PCS:
– be, become, seem, look, resemble...
Tests to distinguish PCS from DO
Test 1 - Substitution
Marjorie looked a fright.
• PCS can be NP or AdjP.
• DO can only be NP.
Can you replace the NP with an AdjP?
Marjorie looked frightful /angry /very sad.
Therefore - PCS.
Tests to distinguish PCS from DO
Test 2 - Agreement
The doctor seems a nice man.
• PCS must agree with the subject.
• DO does not agree with the subject
The doctor saw a nice man/nice men.
Can you make the NP plural?
*The doctor seems nice men.
Therefore - PCS.
Objective Predicative Complement (PCO)
• Similar to PCS in many respects, but a PCO
describes an attribute of the DO of a sentence.
We consider
our leader.
• The PCO function is filled by NP or AdjP.
– We consider him very trustworthy.
• An NP in the PCO function agrees in number with the
DO phrase.
– We consider them our leaders.
Distinguish PCO construction from IO
• VP  V NP NP
We consider him our leader. (DO PCO)
We gave him our leader. (IO DO)
• Substitute AdjP for NP if PCO
• We consider him very stong.
• Cannot substitute AdjP for NP if DO
• *We gave him very strong.
Distinguish PCO construction from IO
• VP  V NP NP
We consider him our leader. (DO PCO)
We gave him our leader. (IO DO)
• DO NP and PCO NP agree in number
• We consider him our leader. (singular)
• We consider them our leaders. (plural)
• No number agreement between IO and DO
• We gave him our leader/leaders.
• We gave them our leader/leaders.
• Post-head dependents which are not complements in a
VP are adjuncts
• Adjuncts are never obligatory
• Adjuncts modify some aspect of the possible reference
of the VP
• Different types of phrases can act as an adjunct in a
VP (XP is an abbreviation for an unspecified type of
• Adjuncts can be fronted to pre-Subject
I left very quickly. (AdvP)
I left.
Very quickly I left.
I saw John on Tuesday. (PP)
I saw John.
On Tuesday I saw John.
Mary left the following day. (NP)
Mary left.
The following day Mary left.
Multiple adjuncts
Sue slept very badly in the plane on Tuesday after the
Complements cannot be omitted (except in special cases)
I behave very badly. (COMP:AdvP)
*I behave ___. (incomplete - opposite meaning)
I put John on the ground. (COMP:PP)
*I put John ___.
Mary left her bag. (COMP:NP)
*Mary left ____.
Santa depends on Rudolph. (COMP:PP)
*Santa depends ___.
Complements precede adjuncts
John read [the book] carefully/in the lounge
*John read carefully/in the lounge [the book].
Exception: 'Heavy' DO NP may follow an adjunct phrase
John examined (very) carefully [every single document in
the safe].
Every phrase has a head
A phrase may have dependents
Dependents may precede or follow the head
Dependents with a close semantic and syntactic
relationship with the head are complements
In some phrases (e.g., VP) complements may be
Dependents which are freely added to a phrase to modify
the head are adjuncts
End of slides