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Classification of words into parts of speech.


Parts of speech


There are different approaches to classifying them: by morphological, syntactic, grammatical, lexica-grammatical features. Nowadays the majority of scientists regard parts of speech as lexica-grammatical categories.

The Dutch linguist Jasperson was one of the first to speak about three-formed (трёхступенчатый) approach to the classification of the words into parts of speech. Form, function and meaning. This conception seems the most convincing and acceptable. Most English grammarians stick to the classification of parts of speech into notional and structural but they use other terms while classifying them (notional parts of speech - lexical words; structural - function words).

Notional parts of speech: the noun, the adjective, the numeral, the pronoun, the verb and the adverb. The notional parts of speech perform a certain function in the sentence: subject, object, predicate, attribute, adverbial modifier…

Structural ones either express relations between words or sentences or emphasize the meaning of words or sentences. They never perform any independent function in the sentence. They are: the article, the preposition, the conjunction, the particle, the modal word, the interjection.




From the point of view of the functional characteristics lexical units may belong to different lexica-grammatical classes. This kind of syntactic transition is called conversion and represents wide-spread phenomenon as one of the most productive and economical means of syntactic transpositions.

e.g. She used to comb her hair lovingly .- Here's your comb.



2. Expressed and Implied Meaning of the Utterance.

3. Analyze the sentences.


Билет 5

1. The Composite Sentence. The definition of the composite sentence.


Unlike a simple sentence that consists of a single independent clause with no

dependent clauses, a composite sentence is built up by two or more predicative

lines. It can be defined as a structural and semantic unity of two or more

syntactic constructions each having a predicative center of its own, built on

the basis of a syntactic connection and used in speech communication as a unit

of the same rank as the simple sentence.


The following characteristics should be kept in mind when discussing

composite sentences:

- the type of syntactic connection (coordination or subordination);

- the rank of predicative constructions, that is, the place occupied by the

predicative construction in the hierarchy of clauses;

- presence or absence of connectors and their character.


A general classification of composite sentences can be based on the first two

criteria – the type of syntactic connection and the rank of predicative constructions.

Here compound and complex sentences are singled out. In the compound sentence

predicative constructions of the high rank are connected by means of coordination

while in the complex sentence – by means of subordination.


According to the way in which parts of the composite sentence are joined

together, two types can be singled out:

1) syndetic (by means of connectors);

2) asyndetic (without any connectors).


The connector can either be a conjunction, a pronoun or an adverb. If it is a

conjunction, its function in the sentence is to join the clauses together. If it is a

pronoun or an adverb (i. e. a relative pronoun or a relative adverb), then it serves as

a part of one of the two clauses which are joined (a subject, object, adverbial

modifier, etc.), and also joins the two clauses together.


There can be disputable cases when it is not quite clear a composite sentence

is syndetic or asyndetic. It depends on the way we view a particular word.

e.g. The one thing she seems to aim at is Individuality; yet she cares nothing

for individuals.

The second clause of the composite sentence opens with the word yet, so we

may say that it is an adverb and the connection is asyndetic, or else, that it is a

conjunction and the connection is syndetic.


2. The Noun. The category of number. The category of case. The category of




The noun is a word expressing substance in the widest sense of the word. In the concept of noun we include not only names of living things and lifeless things + abstract notions – qualities, states and actions.

The English noun is a part of speech that is characterized by the following features: meaning, combinability with words (both in the genitive and in the common case for nouns), common articles and their determiners, prepositions.

Syntactic functions – subject, object, attribute (a glass bowl), predicative (he is a doctor).

Morphological structure. Nouns are divided into simple (chair, table, work) and derived (have either a prefix or a suffix or both (reader, childhood, subgroup).   Productive noun-forming suffixes: -er, -ist, -ess, -ment, -ion, -ity.

Unproductive suffixes are: -hood, -dom, -ship;

         Compound nouns in which 2 or more words combine to form a single word: e.g. eye-witness, lamp-post, cookbook, self-control, rocking-chair;



Morphological categories - nouns have the morphological categories of case and number.




The Category of Number


The opposition of the singularity and the plurality of objects. The plural implies an amount exceeding one. The single number is conveyed by the basic form that is by the form which has no endings and coincides with the stem. The plural is graphically conveyed by the S-formant that materializes itself as a number of allomorphs. However there are unproductive means of forming the plural form. There are some nouns that don’t possess the formal features of either plural or singular number. Of the 2 forms the singular number is usual to all nouns except pluralia tantum (nouns that have only plural). The reason is that the singular number is capable of conveying not only the availability of a quantity but also the absence of quantitative measurements (uncountable).  The plural form always conveys some quantitative relation. It is due to this fact that the pl number is capable of conveying the completion of an abstract notion. + they convey occasional manifestations.

The cat. of number is represented by the opposition of the singular and the plural.


There are several irregular ways of forming the plural:

•Voicing of final consonant + -s plural, e.g. a wife - wives.

•Mutational plurals - a man - men.

•-en plurals. An ox - oxen, a child - children

•Zero plural, e.g.: a sheep-sheep, a deer - deer.

•Foreign plurals, e.g.: curriculum - curricula, formula - formulae (nowadays there is a strong tendency to say 'formulas'), phenomenon - phenomena, datum - data, crisis - crises, index - indices.


Singular collective nouns may be treated as either singular or plural (family…).

Some have only plural (trousers, …)

Some in plural have no singular (people…)


The category of case

There are 2 cases in Modern English: common and genitive.


Nouns in common case can perform any syntactic function in the sentence, e.g.:

Suddenly the weather changed. - subject;

He touched my hand. - direct object;

He was a shy man. - predicative;

She's in the souvenir shop. - attribute.


The common case is unmarked both in meaning and in form. It has a very general meaning and is characterized by uninflected form. Now the common case can perform any syntactic function.


The genitive case is marked both in meaning and in form.

e.g. a girl's book, a girls' school.

e.g.: the children's toys.

The pronunciation of the general case ending: [iz] - in prince's, judge's, witch's; [z] - after voiced consonants and vowels - man's, king's, boy's; [s] after voiceless consonants - bishop's, Smith's. With nouns ending in -s and forming the genetive case in two ways (Dickens' novels, Dickens's novels) the ending is pronounced [iz] whether the letter -s is written or not.


Sometimes the apostrophe can refer to a whole group of words. The central meaning of the genitive case is that of possession. That’s why Prof. Smirnitsky suggests that the g. c. should be called the possessive case.

In Modern English the genitive case is restricted to the following nouns.

  • Personal names, e.g.: George Washington's statue.
  • Personal nouns, e.g.: the boy's bicyde.
  • Animal nouns, e.g.: the horse's tail.
  • Collective nouns, e.g.: the government's decision, the committee's plan.
  • Geographical names: continents: Europe's future; countries: China's development; states: Maryland's Democratic senator, universities: Harvard's Department of Linguistics.
  • Nouns denoting regions, institutions, heavenly bodies, etc.: the world's economy, the Club's pianist, the school's history.
  • Temporal nouns, e.g.: a day's work, today's paper.
  • Other nouns of special relevance to human activity, e.g.: my life's aim, the novel's structure, a word's function, television's future.


The genitive case falls under the dependent genitive (followed by a noun) and the absolute (independent) genitive (not followed by a noun).

1:         He stared at his aunt's face.

•          the roof of the house.

•          at death's door, life's work, for God's sake, for heaven' sake, etc.


2:         My car is faster than John's. Mary's was the prettiest dress. At the baker's, to the dentist's,         at Tiffany's.

•          He is a good friend of my husband's.

•          the Museum of Modern Art's Director, a minute or two's rest.


Instead of genitive case sometimes the of-phrase is used. Normally the of-phrase is used with inanimate nouns. (The roof of the house) Genitives tend to occur in fixed collocations (set phrases).

a slip of the tongue; a difference of opinion; the price of failure; a question of time; a bit of a joke


Double genitive is a special construction in which the independent genitive occurs in an of-phrase. (He’s a good friend of my husband’s)


The group genitive – the independent gen occurs in an of-phrase. Sometimes the genitive suffix is attached not to the head noun but the last word of the of-phrase. (end of the SLIDE 5)


Linguists argue about the linguistic status of the of-phrase and apostrophe-s. Vorontsova denies the existence of the genitive case in modern English. She offers the following course:

  • ‘s is optional; it generally occurs with reference to human beings with inanimate things and abstract nouns, the relation is rendered by the of-phrase; the function of the ‘s is parallel to that of a preposition – she calls it a postposition (after the word), but some scientists don’t share her opinion




The category of gender


Gender is defined as a morphological cat which is closely connected with the sex of the referent.


In Modern English it is expressed lexically:

1. By using totally different nouns, e.g.: father - mother, son - daughter, uncle - aunt, man - woman.

2. By using masculine and feminine suffixes: er/or, -ess, actor - actress.

3. By using a modifier denoting sex, e.g.: boy-friend, girl-friend, male nurse, female officer.


Nowadays people avoid male-female terms by using gender-neutral compound nouns (person instead of man-woman).

20.06.2014; 00:54
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