Aspect Look at the following data: [50] a. John had broken the vase. Tree 21. Aux V. Complementation. Head

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1 7. The structure of VP We have already at various points given indications about the structure of VP, notably in section 5.4. But there are still many outstanding questions, for example about the functions of Aux and V, which we so far just have marked by question marks in trees. Likewise, we have so far assumed that the constituents that verbs are most closely connected to are objects, which are usually realized by NP. However, different verbs require, or select, different types of complement to make up a V. In fact, the overall structure of VP is very similar to that of NP, except that there is nothing in a VP corresponding to premodification in NP. It can be drawn like this: Tree 21 VP Modalisation Predication Aux V Head Complementation V XP Parallel to specification and classification in NP we have modalisation and predication in VP, as the functions performed by Aux and V, respectively. The term complementation covers the function that various categories indicated by XP have in V The function of Aux: Modalisation Modalisation is not a standard term. The full reason for our choice of it will have to wait for the discussion of the semantics of auxiliary verbs. For just like specification in NP, modalisation in VP is partly syntactic, partly semantic. In very general terms, the auxiliary verbs provide information to the listener that is needed for the proper identification of the situation that the entire sentence is meant to apply to. What concerns us here is the syntactic fact that the modalisation function may be realized by from 0 up to 4 auxiliary verbs at the same time just as the specification function in NP could be realized by from 0 up to 4 determiners at the same time. Furthermore, there are severe constraints of word order, form and meaning on co-occurring auxiliaries, again as there was on co-occurring determiners Aspect Look at the following data: [50] a. John had broken the vase 54

2 b. John was breaking the vase c. John had been breaking the vase d. *John had breaking the vase e. *John was broken the vase f. *John was having broken the vase Comparing [a] with [d] and [b] with [e] we find that the auxiliary verb have must be followed by the -en form 1 of the verb (the so called past participle), whereas the auxiliary verb be must be followed by the -ing form of the verb (the so called present participle). Comparing [c] with [f] we find that when both be and have are present, their order must be first have, then be, each still followed by the appropriate verb form. This is quite regular, in fact so regular that it is reasonable to say that it is not the auxiliary verbs alone, but rather a combination of an auxiliary verb and the inflectional morpheme (cf. 2.3.) on the following verb which forms a constituent and realizes a particular syntactic function, and that it is therefore these combinations which are auxiliaries: [51] a. have + {-en}, usually called the perfect (perfektum, Danish før nutid) b. be + {-ing}, usually called the progressive (no classical or Danish term; translate as progressiv ) The perfect and the progressive together are often called aspect in English (aspekt in Danish) Modal verbs But there may be more auxiliary verbs in the modalisation of VP: [52] a. John might break the vase b. John might have broken the vase c. John might be breaking the vase d. John might have been breaking the vase e. *John might broken the vase f. *John might breaking the vase g. *John had might break the vase h. *John was might break the vase The verb might is one of the so called modal verbs (Danish modalverber ). The syntactic part of the reason for choosing the term modalisation for the function performed by Aux is precisely that modal verbs play a significant part here. Now, comparing the grammatical with the ungrammatical examples we find that a modal verb must be followed by a verb in the infinitive form without the infinitive marker to ([e], [f]), and that the modal verb must always be the first verb in a sequence of auxiliary and lexical verbs ([g], [h]). This last point in fact follows from a requirement we have already looked at. The auxiliary verbs be 1 The -en form is so called because of irregular verbs like break, broke, broken; take, took, taken, etc. In the regular verbs the perfect participle ends in -ed, as in work, worked, worked. The -en form is chosen as standard instead of -ed precisely to keep it distict from the past tense form (also worked) of the regular verbs. 55

3 and have require their following verb to end in -ing or -en, respectively. These verb forms (together with the infinitive) are called the non-finite verbforms (cf. 2.2.). But the modal verbs do not have any non-finite forms so they cannot occur after other auxiliaries, neither be, have nor another modal verb Active and passive The examples in [50]and [52] are all active. The corresponding passive sentences are: [53] a. The vase was broken (by John) b. The vase had been broken (by John) c. The vase was being broken (by John) d. The vase had been being broken (by John) [54] a. The vase might be broken (by John) b. The vase might have been broken (by John) c. The vase might be being broken (by John) d. The vase might have been being broken (by John) An active sentence which contains an object can be turned into a passive sentence by a regular procedure that involves three steps: either delete the original subject NP or demote it into a PP (by + NP) functioning as adjunct and move it to an adjunct position (usually end-position) promote the NP functioning as object to subject and move it to subject position insert the auxiliary be + {en} immediately in front of the lexical verb The grand total of auxiliary verbs in the same VP is now 4, as exemplified by [54][d]. Once again you might find this an odd thing to say, but it is quite grammatical and it is fairly easy to come up with convincing examples, eg. the treaty must have been being signed by the two heads of state when the bomb exploded outside. We can now expand [Tree20] to accommodate the outcome of this discussion: 2 Notice that this is different in Danish, where the auxiliary verbs have both an infinitive form and a perfect participle: han må kunne klare det, han må have kunnet klare det. 56

4 Tree 22 VP Modalisation Predication Aux V Head Complementation Modal Perfect Progressive Passive V XP may have been being broken Tense, finiteness and agreement The examples we have looked at so far have had two things in common: they have contained at least one auxiliary verb, and they have all been in the past tense (præteritum, Danish datid). But there are lots of sentences without auxiliary verbs in them, like [55] a. John breaks the vase b. John broke the vase Here, [a] is in the present tense (præsens, Danish nutid ) while [b] is in the past tense. So although a sentence does not necessarily contain an auxiliary verb, we shall nevertheless argue that the function of modalisation is obligatory, and hence that there always is an Aux node in a tree representing the structure of a sentence. Notice first that each of the past tense examples that we have been looking at has a present tense counterpart: [56] a. John has broken the vase b. John is breaking the vase c. John has been breaking the vase [57] a. John may break the vase b. John may have broken the vase c. John may be breaking the vase d. John may have been breaking the vase [58] a. The vase is broken (by John) b. The vase has been broken (by John) c. The vase is being broken (by John) d. The vase has been being broken (by John) [59] a. The vase may be broken (by John) b. The vase may have been broken (by John) 57

5 c. The vase may be being broken (by John) d. The vase may have been being broken (by John) Notice also that the change from past to present tense always only involves the first verb in a sequence, even when no auxiliary verb is involved, as in [55]. Now, tense in English is not just concerned with the semantic notion of time but also with two very important syntactic notions: finiteness and agreement (also sometimes called concord Danish kongruens). The tense forms (eg. breaks, break and broke of the verb break) are called the finite verb-forms (cf. 2.2.), as opposed to the non-finite forms just mentioned (break (infinitive), broken (perfect participle) and breaking (present participle)). As you can see, there are two distinct present tense forms, break and breaks. It is the choice between these two in accordance with the person and number of the subject NP that goes under the name agreement. Now, since every sentence in the sense of clause functioning as an independent unit of communication must contain a finite verb, and since this finite verb (if it is in the present tense) must agree with the subject NP in terms of person and number, it is clear that tense is a category that somehow spans across not just the VP but also the subject NP. And since it is precisely these two constituents that define a clause, it is the presence of a finite verb that enables a clause to function as a sentence in the communicative sense. In short, it is clear that tense is an obligatory category in every clause that functions independently as a sentence. It might be considered confusing that there is a 50 % formal overlap between finite and non-finite verb forms in the regular verbs of English: [60] Finite Non-finite walk Present tense, 1st +2nd person singular Present tense, plural Infinitive walks Present tense, 3rd person singular - walked Past tense Past participle walking - Present participle Gerund 58

6 This state of affairs can only exist in actual language use because finite and non-finite forms are never in competition for the same structural positions in a sentence. It is always syntactically unambiguous if you are dealing with a finite or a non-finite verb form, precisely in the same way that walks as a verb is never in syntactic competition with the plural of the noun walk. As a listener you invariably interpret them correctly (even though you may not be able to explain it in theory). However, it may be troublesome to analysis, since it is required that we are explicit about such important syntactic differences. There are a number of ways in which we can solve the conflict explicitly in the analysis. We have already met one (in footnote on p. 55), which deals with the formal conflict between finite and non-finite walked by calling the non-finite form the -en form. A slightly more abstract way is usually employed to deal with the formal conflict between finite and non-finite walk. It is a fact that tense is expressed by the two morphemes {-s} in the present, 3rd person singular, and {-ed} in the past. It is also a fact that the infinitive is always equal to the lexical entry, or base form, of the verb, e.g. break, walk, and never takes any inflectional morphemes. In order to explicitly solve the formal tension between the infinitive form and the present tense form in 1st and 2nd person singular and plural, it has become standard practice to introduce a funny kind of morpheme, written {}, pronounced /nil/ (Danish nul ). The signifies that we are here dealing with a structurally justified and recognized element that just happens to have no material form associated with it! So, the present tense form of verbs outside the 3rd person singular consists of the base form of the verb plus the {}-morpheme, eg. break+{}, walk+{}. In contrast, the infinitive just consists of the base form. Another way to say the same thing is to say that the present tense in English is realized by the morpheme {-s} in the 3rd person singular and by the empty morpheme {} everywhere else (except with the highly irregular verb be). Topic for discussion: Zero-realization. Before you dismiss this as nonsense out of hand, think of an analogy. Think of this text, for example.there is one very important letter (important to any text) which you can t see directly it has no material realization. It is the blank that is used to separate words. If we didn t use it thetextwouldall looklikethisandwouldnotbeveryeasytoread. So, although it has no material realization is has structural significance, it is used in interpretation, and it is recognized as a distinct sign (for example in computer code ascii value 32). Even if you should be swayed by this attempt to justify it to accept that {} may in fact be a valid analytical device (and that is all it is meant to be and not just for the present tense morpheme, of course, but for any structurally significant item that lacks material realization), you may still fail to see the point of this entire discussion. Well, to remind you. 59

7 We are in the middle of an argument for a claim that every sentence has an Aux constituent even if it has no auxiliary verbs. The first step in the argument was to show that the choice between present and past tense applies to the first verb in a sequence of verbs. The second step was to show that the category of tense is obligatory in every clause functioning as an independent sentence, even when it has no material realization. So the last step in the argument is to show that the category of tense is in fact one of the categories within Aux, like modal, perfect, progressive, and passive. Now, since tense affects not only auxiliary verbs, but also lexical verbs, it must have access to both. And since it invariably affects the first verb in a sequence of verbs, to which it attaches one of its morphemes, it would appear that its structural position must be such that it immediately follows the first verb. A little reflection will show, however, that that cannot be right for any of the four auxiliary verbs and the lexical verb may be the first verb in a given sentence. Recall now that the Aux es apart from tense and modal were realized by a combination of an auxiliary verb and a morpheme that has to be attached to the following verb: [have+ - en] (perfect), [be+ -ing] (progressive), and [be+ -en] (passive). Given this fact, and given the fact that also the tense morpheme has to be attached to the back of a verb, we might say quite generally that Aux morphemes play leap-frog over a following verb (auxiliary or lexical). This would make tense the first category in the sequence of Aux categories. We would, in fact get something like the following picture: Lexical V alone Lexical V + Suffix Lexical V + Suffix Lexical V + Suffix Lexical V alone Suffix alone Tense Modal Perfect Progressive Passive V +ed may+ + have+ +en be+ +ing be+ +en break+ might have been being broken By modern standards, this is an old analysis of the structure of the English Aux (it dates from 1957) but it is still by far the most elegant, and at the same time an analysis which 60

8 captures all the relevant facts in a general way. The tree that would reveal the structure of the Aux node in accordance with this lengthy discussion would be the following: Tree 23 VP Modalisation Predication Aux V Head Complementation Te nse Modal Perfect Progressive Passive V XP -ed may+ have+en be+ing be+en break This tree is radically different from those we have seen so far in.a very important respect: it no longer directly reflects the order and form of the words in a real sentence. It must be supplemented by the leap-frog analysis above, which explains how the leaves of the tree must be organized in order to form a correct sentence. But this is a natural consequence of the purpose of trees, which is to reveal the structural properties of sentences. And structural properties are not always directly reflected by the linear order or the forms of the words that make up the real sentence. Trees are representations of the underlying structure of sentences structure that provides the information that we use in the interpretation of those sentences. In this sense, tense is an obligatory category in the Aux node, which must therefore be an obligatory constituent of every VP and hence of every independent sentence The predication Having dealt with modalisation as the first of the two overall functions within VP, we now turn briefly to that performed by V : the function of predication. Further relevant comments can be found in the Topic for discussion box below on p.58. Just as we compared modalisation in VP with specification in NP, we may compare predication in VP with classification in NP. Where classification provided information for the identification of the kind of thing talked about and their properties, predication provides information for the identification of the kind of situation that the sentence as a whole is meant to apply to. Predication is clearly related to predicate. But whereas predicate is the function of the entire VP, predication is the function of only those parts of the VP that carry descriptive meaning: the lexical verb and its complements. So what are these? 61

9 Complements and verb complementation In section 5.4. we introduced and discussed the functions of direct and indirect objects, realized by NPs dominated by V. It turns out, however, that there are other functions, performed by NP and other types of category, in structural competition with object NPs. Consider this ministory : [61] a. Peter was a blacksmith b. He was very nice then c. Then he became an engineer d. Now he has turned arrogant and supercilious e. On top of that he has grown fat f. He must weigh 15 stone g. In the old days he would have been on a diet h. But he isn t himself any more Disregarding the constituents which are optional at sentence level 3 ([then], [now], [on top of that], [in the old days], [any more], and the conjunction but), all these sentences have the same general tree-structure: Tree 24 S Subject Predicate NP VP PN/Pro Modalisation Aux Predication V Head Complementation Tense Modal Perfect V XP Peter he he he he he he he -ed -ed -ed -s -s -s -ed -s must will not * have+en have+en have+en be be become turn grow weigh be be a blacksmith very nice an engineer aroogant and supercilious fat 15 stone on a diet himself * The word not is a born adverb and not an auxiliary verb, as you might be led to believe from the last line in the tree. However, it is semantically closely involved in modalisation and hence an integral part of Aux. 3 But notice that they are nevertheless necessary for the interpretation of these sentences as forming a coherent text. 62

10 What immediately concerns us here is the joker category labelled XP and the function of complement. The first thing to note is that three different categories are represented among the phrases that appear under XP: [62] a. NP = [a blacksmith], [an engineer], [15 stone], and the Pro [himself] b. AP = [very nice], [arrogant and supercilious], [fat] c. PP = [on a diet] We said above (section 5.4.) that an object could be defined as a NP immediately dominated by V so by that criterion alone the NPs in [61] [a] should be objects. But are they? If not, there must be more to being an object than just being a NP under V. Check back to section , which discussed the difference between active and passive sentences. We said there that a passive sentence could be formed from an active sentence by among other things promoting the object NP to subject. All the sentences in [61] are active. Now try if you can form passive sentences from the active sentencences in [61] which have a NP constituent inside V. The result would be [63] a. *a blacksmith was been (by Peter) c. *then an engineer was become (by him) f. *15 stone must be weighed (by him) h. *now himself isn t been (by him) These sentences are really bad. So, if the promotion test to subject in a passive sentence is considered a relevant criterion for the definition of object, the NPs in [62][a] cannot be objects. Instead, they are said to function as subject complements at least the first two. Topic for discussion: Predication The thing that [61][a] and [c] have in common is the presence of a special kind of Head V, respectively be and become. These two verbs are the central members of a particular subclass of verbs, whose common feature is that they link the subject with a constituent that predicates ( says ) something of the referent of the subject NP that is, the thing that the subject NP is meant to connect with in the situational context. There are several terms for these verbs: intensive verbs, linking verbs, and especially to the central members copula (verbs) (copula actually means link in Latin). The difference between be and become is semantic. Be expresses something static ( existence ), become something dynamic ( change ). It is because of the importance of these very basic notions of existence and change that the term predication which originally only applied to the constructions of these two verbs was taken over by the grammatical tradition to apply to (what modern grammar classifies as) V in general. Look now at [62] [b] which is a list of APs. We repeat the relevant sentences here: 63

11 [61] b. He was [very nice] then d. Now he has turned [arrogant and supercilious] e. On top of that he has grown [fat] Here it is the AP which functions as subject complement. In each case the AP predicates something of the referent of the subject NP, and although only [b] contains one of the central intensive verbs, also the two other verbs (turn and grow) are said to be intensive in this kind of context. For notice what happens if you replace the APs in these sentences with NPs: [64] d. Now he has turned [the radio] e. On top of that he has grown [these potatoes] On all tests including promotion to subject in corresponding passive sentences these NPs are objects. So there is an important difference between the two central intensive verbs be and become on the one hand and the rest of them (and there are several) on the other: the central intensive verbs can have either a NP or an AP functioning as subject complement, whereas the rest can only have an AP in this function. Verbs that combine with NPs functioning as object are called transitive verbs. In other words, turn and grow can be used as both intensive and transitive verbs, whereas be and become simply are intensive. The grammatical area that we have entered here is generally called verb complementation, and the result of study in this area is a subclassification of verbs according to the phrase types they must or may combine with to form a V and the syntactic functions performed by these phrases within V. It is a very important area of syntax. At the same time it is also a very difficult area, for various reasons. One of these is terminological confusion. Let us deal with that first, in a discussion box. 64

12 Topic for discussion: Complements and complementation The term complementation and the associated complement is tricky and has been used in a great many ways: as the name for particular syntactic or semantic categories, or as the name for particular syntactic or semantic functions. Nowadays it is used as a functional term, but in three quite distinct ways: Complement Object Prepositional complement (Predicative) complement Direct Indirect - Subject complement Object complement as a general, overall coverterm for any obligatory constituents that perform the three distinct functions object, prepositional complement, and (predicative) complement. So an object is also a complement, but not necessarily vice versa as an abbreviated coverterm for the two distinct syntactic functions of subject and object complement. The full term is predicative complement. as an abbreviated term for the specific function of subject complement (rarely object complement) It may appear confusing, but try to think of it this way. Any constituent which is required by a particular Head V or Head P for the creation of V and P is a complement of V or P (sense 1). Now, since different verbs require constituents that perform different functions, it is quite natural that we should give these functions specific names. It so happens that one of the names traditionally chosen for this purpose is the same as the general term, only with a restrictive adjective predicative before it. It is a special kind of complement (sense 2). The same then applies to (subject) complement, which is a special kind of predicative complement (sense 3). Obviously, the notion of complementation can be generalized to other kinds of lexical heads as well, not just V and P. For example, in a sentence like The fact that he sold it annoyed me, [that he sold it] is a subordinate sentence which is required by the head N fact to form a complete N. It is in essence a case of obligatory (post)modification. 65

13 Standard subclasses of verbs We introduced the two terms intensive verb and transitive verb just above. These are terms for two important subclasses of verbs. In this section we shall introduce, exemplify and discuss the standard subclassification of verbs in a bit more detail. For a start we simply give a list of their names, the type of complement they take, and a few examples of verbs belonging to them: Name Type of complement Examples [65] a. Intransitive (None) smile, laugh, dream, swim, walk; run, grow, turn, etc b. Intensive Subject complement be, become; seem, appear, prove, run, grow, turn, etc. c. Transitive Direct object abandon, beat, kill; kiss, eat, drown, kick, run, grow, turn, etc. d. Ditransitive Indirect+Direct object buy, envy, give, provide, sell, serve; ask, beg, say, run, grow,turn, etc. e. Complex Direct object + appoint, christen, elect, name, put; call, transitive Object complement make, run, grow, turn, etc. There are several competing systems of verb classification, but this one is fairly standard. For a far more complex and ambitious one, consult the section called Verb Patterns in the Advanced Learner s Dictionary, which operates with about fifty subclasses. The job of making an exhaustive system for the subclassification of verbs is not only difficult it is impossible! The main reason for this is that any classification, once it has been established, is static. But language is constantly used for new communicative jobs and one of the productive areas of innovation is to use verbs in new syntactic configurations. In the lists of examples given above, those verbs that appear to the left of the semicolon may be said to be central members of their respective classes. These verbs will typically appear with the complement types indicated. But usually the situation is not quite so simple. The verbs quoted as examples to the right of the semicolon all appear in other classes as well. And some of them, like run, appear in all. Let us use that verb to illustrate the differences between the classes. The diagnostic constituents in bold type: [66] a. the horse is running intransitive (no complement) b. the watertrough is running dry intensive subject complement c. the stable lad is running the horses transitive direct object d. the landlord is running me a pint ditransitive indirect + direct object e. he is running them tired complex direct oject + object transitive complement We can therefore descibe the syntactic potential of the verb run in this fashion: [67] run [ { SC DO IO+DO DO+OC}] This gives in compact form (for use in a dictionary, for example) the information that run can take either no complement, or a subject complement, or a direct object, or an indirect and a direct object, or a direct object and an object complement. This would be a verb 66

14 pattern, or verb frame. But as you can see, a verb frame consisting only of functional labels. Consider now a verb like prefer. It is usually classified as a transitive verb, which means that it takes a direct object. This is indeed the function of the bold face constituents in the examples below, which are nevertheless of different phrasal categories: Category [68] a. I prefer that beer NP b. I prefer to go alone VP infinitive c. I prefer you to go alone S non-finite d. I prefer that you go alone S finite The direct object is realized by a NP, an infinitive VP, a non-finite subordinate clause, and a finite subordinate clause. A verb frame to capture this might be: [69] prefer [ {NP VP inf S non-fin S fin }] So clearly, in order to give an exhaustive description of the complementation potential of verbs we need both functional and categorial information in fact, we need to conflate information of the sort contained in verb frames like [67] with the kind of information contained in verb frames like [69]. And this is a tall order. This concludes our discussion of the structure of VP. We now turn briefly to the structure of the remaining phrasal categories, AP, AdvP and PP. 67

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