English Theoretical Grammar
1. The category of number. Nouns that can be counted have two numbers: singular and plural.
2. The category of case is highly disputable. Yet, many scholars assume that nouns denoting living beings (and some nouns denoting lifeless things) have two case forms: the common case and the genitive (or possessive) case.
3. It is doubtful whether the grammatical category of gender exists in Modern English for it is hardly ever expressed by means of grammatical forms. There is practically one gender-forming suffix in Modern English, the suffix –ess, expressing feminine gender. It is not widely used (heir – heiress, poet – poetess, actor – actress).
(e) The basic meaning of the category of number is the opposition of the singularity and the plurality of objects. The plurality implies an amount exceeding one. The singular number is conveyed by the basic form, i.e. by the form which has no endings and which coincides with the stem. The plural number is graphically conveyed by the –s formant that materializes itself as a number of allomorphs (/s/, /z/, /iz/) depending on the character of the final sound of the stem (books, cats, dogs, potatoes, classes, bushes). However, there are other, unproductive means of forming the plural form (children, nuclei, phenomena, feet, mice). And finally, there are some nouns that do not possess the formal features of either plural or singular number (sheep, deer, swine, news, scissors, trousers).
(f) Of the two number forms, the singular number is compulsory for all nouns, except for pluralia tantum. The reason for this fact is that the singular number is capable of conveying not only the availability of quantity (one) but also the absence of quantitative measurements for uncountables. The plural form always conveys some quantitative relationship; it is due to this fact that the plural number is capable of conveying the concretion of an abstract notion: a noun denoting a generalized feature (a quality or a feeling) may also convey manifestations which are occasional (attentions, joys).
Theme 5. THE NOTIONAL PARTS OF SPEECH (continued).
(g) It is generally assumed that there are two cases in English: the common case and the genitive (possessive) case. Thus the paradigm may look as follows:
Common case: the boy the boys
Genitive case: the boy’s the boys’
Most scholars usually point to the fact that the genitive case is mainly used with the nouns of person (Jim’s book, Mary’s brother) but it may be occasionally used with the nouns denoting lifeless things, namely: periods of time, distance, and price (a week’s notice, a mile’s distance, a dollar’s worth of sugar). It may also occur, though seldom, with the nouns which are situationally definite (The car’s front door was open).
(h) The semantic characteristics of the noun vary depending on the case used; the genitive case expresses the individual characteristics of the object modified whereas the common case denotes a generalized property which is not ascribed to any single bearer (cf.: Shakespeare’s sonnets – the Shakespeare National Theatre; the room’s walls – the room walls).
(i) The field structure of the noun is made up of the central group and the peripheral group. The central group includes object nouns and nouns of person, both having equal number of characteristic features; though object nouns are easily used as prepositive attributes, they do not tend to be used so easily in the genitive case which, in turn, is a characteristic feature of the nouns of person. The peripheral group consists of abstract nouns and nouns of material; both of them are devoid of the categories of number and case (with a few exceptions); they are not used with the indefinite article. However, nouns of material are easily used as prepositive attributes.
Point 2. The pronoun. The semantic classification of pronouns. The deictic and the anaphoric functions of pronouns. Syntactic peculiarities of pronouns. Grammatical categories of pronouns.
(a) The pronoun is a part of speech which points out objects and their qualities without naming them. Therefore, the pronoun possesses a highly generalized meaning that seldom materializes outside of the context.
(b) The semantic classification of pronouns includes such subclasses as personal, possessive, demonstrative, interrogative, reciprocal, relative, indefinite, negative, conjunctive, defining and reflexive pronouns.
(c) The deictic, or indicatory, function of the pronoun is inherent in many subclasses except, maybe, interrogative, indefinite and negative. The anaphoric function, or the function of connecting with the preceding sentence or clause, is characteristic of relative and conjunctive pronouns though it may be occasionally performed by the other subclasses.
(d) Syntactic peculiarities of pronouns are accounted for by the fact that the pronoun is very close in its syntactic functions to those of the noun and the adjective. Hence, the main functions it performs are the ones of the subject, the predicative, the object, and the attribute.
(e) The pronoun seems to have the grammatical categories of person, gender (personal and possessive pronouns), case (personal, and the relative and interrogative WHO – the nominative and objective cases; indefinite, reciprocal and negative – the common and genitive cases) and number (demonstrative, and the defining OTHER).
Point 3. The numeral. General characteristics and problems of subcategorizing.
(a) The numeral is a part of speech which indicates number or the order of persons and things in a series.
(b) Numerals are united by their semantics only. They have neither morphologic nor syntactic features. All numerals are subdivided into cardinal and ordinal. Both subclasses can perform equally well the functions peculiar of nouns and adjectives. Numerals possess a specific word-building system: suffixes –teen, -ty, -th. Some of them are easily substantivized and treated as nouns.
Point 4. The adjective. The grammatical meaning of the adjective. Semantic and grammatical subclasses of adjectives. Grammatical categories of the adjective. Syntactic functions of adjectives. Substantivization of adjectives. The field nature of the adjective.
(a) The adjective is a part of speech expressing a quality of a substance.
(b) The grammatical meaning of the adjective lies in the fact that this part of speech names a quality possessing certain stability unlike Participle I, for example: a fast train – an approaching train.
(c) According to their meanings and grammatical characteristics, adjectives fall under two classes: (1) qualitative adjectives, (2) relative adjectives. Qualitative adjectives denote qualities of a substance directly, not through its relation to another substance, as size, shape, colour, physical and mental qualities, qualities of general estimation: little, large, high, soft, warm, white, important, etc. Relative adjectives denote qualities of a substance through their relation to materials (silken, woolen, wooden, metallic), to place (Italian, Asian), to time (monthly, weekly), to some action (preparatory, educational).
(d) Most adjectives have degrees of comparison: the comparative degree and the superlative degree.
(e) In a sentence the adjective may be used as an attribute or as a predicative, the former in preposition being more characteristic.
(f) Substantivized adjectives have acquired some or all of the characteristics of the noun, but their adjectival origin is still generally felt. They may be wholly substantivized (a native, the natives, a native’s hut, valuables, sweets, a Ukrainian, Ukrainians) and partially substantivized (the rich, the poor, the unemployed, the English, the good, the evil).
(g) Qualitative adjectives possess all the grammatical features of the adjective and belong to the central group. The peripheral group includes relative adjectives and words of state (asleep, awake) though there is no hard and fast demarcation line between these two groups.
Theme 5. THE NOTIONAL PARTS OF SPEECH (continued).
Point 5. The verb. The grammatical meaning of the verb. Semantic and grammatical groups of verbs. The valency of verbs. Grammatical categories of the verb (aspect, tense, voice and state). Transpositions of verb-forms. Functional and semantic fields of temporality, state and modality. Verbals, their grammatical categories and syntactic functions.
(a) The verb is a part of speech which denotes an action.
(b) The grammatical meaning of action is understood widely: it is not only activities proper (He wrote a letter) but both a state (He will soon recover) and just an indication of the fact that the given object exists or belongs to a certain class of objects or persons (A chair is a piece of furniture). It is important that the verb conveys the feature as an action within some period of time, however unlimited.
(c) Semantically and grammatically English verbs are grouped as transitive (to give), intransitive (to sleep), regular, irregular, mixed, notional, auxiliary, link (to grow, to turn, to look), terminative (to come), non-terminative (to live) and verbs of double lexical (aspect) character (to see).
(d) The valency of verbs is their combinability. For example, all verbs are characterized by their subordination to the subject of a sentence; transitive verbs are usually combined with an object; auxiliary and link verbs need a notional predicative, etc.
(e) The verb has the grammatical categories of person, number, tense, aspect, voice, and mood.
In Modern English there are but few forms indicating person and number in the synthetic forms of the verb. These are:
(1) The third person singular Present Indefinite Indicative – ‘he speaks’.
(2) The Future Indefinite Tense – ‘I shall speak’ (‘He will speak’).
The verb ‘to be’ has suppletive forms for different persons – ‘am, is, are’.
The category of tense is very clearly expressed in the forms of the English verb. This category denotes the relation of the action either to the moment of speaking or to some definite moment in the past or future. The category of tense and the category of aspect are intermingled. There are four groups of tenses: Indefinite, Continuous, Perfect and Perfect Continuous.
The category of aspect shows the way in which the action develops, whether it is in progress or completed, etc. The Indefinite form has no aspect characteristics whatever, the Continuous, Perfect and Perfect Continuous forms denote both time and aspect relations. Each of these forms includes four tenses: Present, Past, Future and Future-in-the-Past. Thus there are 16 tenses in English.
Voice is the category of the verb which indicates the relation of the predicate to the subject and the object.
There are two undoubted voices in English: the active voice and the passive voice.
The active voice shows that the person or thing denoted by the subject is the doer of the action expressed by the predicate.
The passive voice shows that the person or thing denoted by the subject is acted upon.
Some scholars assume there is one more voice in English, the so-called neuter-reflexive voice. (E.g. She was dressing herself.)
Mood is a grammatical category which indicates the attitude of the speaker towards the action expressed by the verb from the point of view of its reality.
We distinguish the indicative mood, the imperative mood, and the subjunctive mood.
The Indicative Mood shows that the action or state expressed by the verb is presented as a fact.
The Imperative Mood expresses a command or a request.
The Subjunctive Mood shows that the action or state expressed by the verb is presented as a non-fact, as something imaginary or desired.
(f) Transpositions of verb-forms may be connected with either substitutions of personal forms in special cases (cf.: ‘If he were present, we’d ask him’ in the Subjunctive Mood) or with functional transpositions of tense forms (cf.: ‘He will come tomorrow. – He is coming tomorrow’.).
(g) The concepts of temporality (time correlations), state and modality are in most cases expressed by verbs, but the fields may be different in nature. The field of temporality may imply different functional patterns for the same action (cf.: ‘He will come next week. – He is coming next week. – He comes next week’, where the first sentence is grammatically central, and the other two peripheral.). On the other hand, the field of temporality may be represented by semantically different classes of verbs, such as terminative, non-terminative, and verbs of double lexical character, the latter belonging to the centre of the field.
As for the functional and semantic fields of state and modality, they may include a central group of verbs expressing these concepts both lexically and functionally, and a peripheral group of other parts of speech used in similar positions.
(h) There are three verbals in English: the participle, the gerund and the infinitive.
The characteristic traits of the verbals are as follows:
1. They have a double nature, nominal and verbal. The participle combines the characteristics of a verb with those of an adjective; the gerund and the infinitive combine the characteristics of a verb with those of a noun.
2. The tense distinctions of the verbals are not absolute, but relative.
3. All the verbals can form predicative constructions.
The participle is a non-finite form of the verb which has a verbal and an adjectival or an adverbial character. Its categories are those of tense-aspect and voice. In the sentence it may be used as an attribute, an adverbial modifier, a predicative and part of a complex object.
The gerund developed from the verbal noun, which in course of time became verbalized preserving at the same time its nominal character. It has the categories of tense-aspect and voice. The gerund can perform the function of subject, object, predicative, attribute and adverbial modifier.
The infinitive is the most abstract verb-form which simply indicates action (in the Indefinite Aspect). That is why it is referred to first in verb articles of dictionaries. Its categories are those of tense-aspect and voice. It can be used as a subject, a predicative, an object, an attribute, and an adverbial modifier.
Theme 5. THE NOTIONAL PARTS OF SPEECH (continued).
Point 6. The adverb. The grammatical meaning of the adverb. The semantic classification of adverbs. The degrees of comparison of adverbs. Syntagmatics of adverbs.
(a) The adverb is a part of speech which expresses some circumstances that attend an action or state.
(b) The grammatical meaning of the adverb is pointing out some characteristic features of an action or a quality.
(c) According to their meanings adverbs fall under several groups:
1. adverbs of time (today, soon, etc.);
2. adverbs of repetition or frequency (often, seldom, over, etc.);
3. adverbs of place and direction (inside, backward, etc.);
4. adverbs of cause and consequence (therefore, accordingly, etc.);
5. adverbs of manner (kindly, hard, etc.);
6. adverbs of degree, measure and quantity (very, almost, once, etc.).
Three groups of adverbs stand aside: interrogative (where, when, why, how), relative and conjunctive adverbs, the former being used in special questions, and the latter two to introduce subordinate clauses.
Some adverbs are homonymous with prepositions, conjunctions (before, after, since) and words of the category of state.
(d) Some adverbs have degrees of comparison. This grammatical category finds its morphological expression only in a limited group of adverbs, namely, the suppletive forms of ‘well’, ‘badly’, ‘much’, ‘little’, and the degrees of comparison of the adverbs ‘fast’, ‘near’, ‘hard’. In other cases the forms are analytical (wisely - more wisely - most wisely). The adverb ‘far’ has a peculiar form.
(e) The syntagmatics of the adverb is that of an adverbial modifier (said softly, nice in a way), and sometimes of an attribute (the then president).
Point 7. The problems of setting off modal words as parts of speech.
The modal words express the attitude of the speaker to the reality, possibility or probability of the action he speaks about.
Formerly, they used to be referred to as adverbs, and it was in Russian linguistics that they were identified as a part of speech. However, H.Sweet distinguished the adverbs relating to the whole sentence and expressing the speaker’s attitude.
Modal words stand aside in the sentence, they are not its members. Sometimes they are used as sentence-words.
The structural field of the modal words consists of the modal words proper used only parenthetically or as sentence-words (perhaps, maybe, indeed, etc.) and a peripheral group of adverbs functioning as modal words without losing their morphological and syntactic features (apparently, unfortunately, etc.).
Point 8. The interjection as a part of speech. Determination of the boundaries of interjections. Conversion of words belonging to other parts of speech, and other language units, into interjections.
(a) The interjection is a part of speech which expresses various emotions without naming them.
(b) According to Prof. Smirnitsky interjections ‘are opposed to the words of intellectual semantics’ and their field boundaries are limited by this characteristic feature. Nevertheless, interjections may be primary and secondary.
Primary interjections are not derived from other parts of speech. Most of them are simple words: ah, oh, eh, pooh, hum, fie, bravo, hush. Only a few primary interjections are composite: heigh-ho! hey-ho! holla-ho! gee-ho!
(c) Secondary interjections are derived from other parts of speech or language units. They are homonymous with the words or syntagms they are derived from. They are: well, now, why, God gracious, damn it, etc.; they should not be confused with exclamation-words such as ‘nonsense’, ‘shame’, ‘good’, etc.
Theme 6. THE FUNCTIONAL PARTS OF SPEECH.
Point 1. The conjunction. The place of conjunctions in the system of connecting devices in the English language. Types of conjunctions and their functioning in the sentence. Polysemy and synonymy of conjunctions.
(a) The conjunction is a part of speech which denotes connections between objects and phenomena. It connects parts of the sentence, clauses, and sentences.
(b) The conjunction seems to have some peculiar features: unlike the preposition it conveys grammatical relations in a more abstract way, it has no nomination and it cannot be a member of the sentence; on the other hand, it is more universal than prepositions and conjunctive words, for it can connect various syntactic structures and units.
(c) As to their functions conjunctions fall under two classes: coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions.
Coordinating conjunctions join coordinate clauses in a compound sentence, or homogeneous parts in a simple sentence, or homogeneous subordinate clauses in a complex sentence, or independent sentences. There are four different kinds of coordinating conjunctions:
1. Copulative conjunctions: and, nor, as well as, both…and, not only…but (also), neither…nor. They chiefly denote that one statement or fact is simply added to another (‘nor’ and ‘neither’ express that relation in the negative sense).
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