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Mgtr. Mara Fernanda Casares

Prof. Anabel Monteserin

Prof. Mara del Rosario Tartaglia

Prof. Roco Albornoz




A sentence is an independent structure; it is not part of a larger unit. The

minimal structure of a sentence is made up of two main parts or constituents:

The subject: It denotes the most important participant in the event

described by the verb and it represents what the sentence is about.
The predicate: It generally contains a verb which describes an event.
(1) SUBJECT [My children] PREDICATE [have studied English].

The subject of the sentence precedes the verb and it agrees in number and
person with it. It is obligatory and explicit in finite sentences in English but not
in Spanish, as shown by the ungrammaticality in (2b).

(2) a. Peter is sleeping.

Pedro est durmiendo

b. *Is sleeping.
Est durmiendo

The subject in (3a) below is realized by an expletive pronoun which has no

meaning. Even though this pronoun is semantically empty, it is an obligatory
constituent in this type of sentences in English, because it must fulfil the
syntactic function of subject.

(3) a. It is raining.

b. *Is raining.
Est lloviendo

What follows the subject is what is said about it. The structure that follows the
subject is the predicate. The predicate contains a verb as in (4) - or verbal
group as in (5) and (6). This verb or verbal group may appear alone (5) or be
followed by other phrases, as shown in (4) and (6).

(4) Mary goes to her office by bus every Monday.

(5) Paul is working.

(6) Paul has studied English for ten years.



We know there are different categories of words in a language but we do not

learn or study them, that is, we possess implicit knowledge about our native
language and what properties are relevant to place certain words together
within a particular category.

Words can share some characteristics with each other but they can also have
some differences with other words. So, words in a language are not part of a
homogeneous set. On the contrary, words belong to different classes, grouped
according to their properties. We call these groups word categories or word
classes. Some of them are nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions, among others.

Word classes are not only divided according to the semantic properties of
words, that is, their meaning. This means that knowing the meaning of a word is
not enough to be able to use it properly in a particular sentence or discourse.
They are grouped by taking into account their morphology and distribution.

Morphological properties of words are the various forms we find for

different words. For example, the word ideas can be broken down into idea and
s, where the second part represents the plural of the word and is called the
plural morpheme. The fact that the word idea can take the plural s morpheme
places it in the category of nouns because only nouns can take plural s in
English and this s is not suitable for adjectives in this language. As there are
many types of morphemes, the point is that only words of certain categories can
take morphemes of certain types.

On the other hand, distribution refers to the positions in a sentence that some
words can occupy and other words cannot. Clearly, this is determined by the
category a word belongs to. Both types of information are part of our implicit
knowledge in our mother tongue.

For each of the word classes, these two aspects will be explored as we move
along. The aim of the pages that follow is to systematize the morphological and
distributional criteria that are relevant for placing a word in a certain category.


The chart below summarizes the different word classes in English and the main
properties associated with each class.


NOUNS They inflect for number: singular and plural. cat, dog, house

PRONOUNS They replace nominal structures. she, him, nobody

DETERMINERS They precede and specify nouns. the, this, my

QUANTIFIERS They precede and quantify nouns. many, two, first, each

They modify nouns or they can be placed after happy, short,

ADJECTIVES link verbs. important

ADVERBS They modify verbs or sentences. quickly, immediately

They appear on their own in the study, live, smell,

predicate. write, know

They precede other verbs. They

cant appear on their own. They be, have, do
Auxiliaries are used to form questions and
negative sentences.

They express modality: ability, must, can, should,

Modals obligation, suggestion, etc. They will
precede other verbs.

They relate entities. They typically take a NP

PREPOSITIONS in, on, under, with

Table 1: Typical characteristics of word classes



1. General Characteristics

Traditionally, nouns are defined as words that denote people, animals, things or
places. This definition enables us to identify Peter, giraffe, car and city, among
others. A definition like this one is a notional definition because it offers a
characterization of a word class related to its meaning. However, it does not
account for a great number of words which also belong to the class of nouns, but
do not denote people, animals, things or places. For example, nouns such as,
destruction or happiness do not refer to things but to the result of an event or a
state. These nouns denote abstract ideas or concepts (e.g. death, sincerity,
success, etc.), emotional states (e.g. loneliness, love, etc.), bodily sensations (e.g.
faintness, hunger, etc.) and many others.

Taking into account meaning, nouns can be sub-classified into: common or

proper, abstract or concrete and countable or uncountable/mass nouns:

(a) common: They refer to objects, persons, places (computer, student, club).
(b) proper: They refer to specific persons, places and institutions (Mary,
England, Cambridge University ).
(c) abstract: They refer to states, situations (happiness, beauty, childhood).
(d) concrete: They refer to objects, people, places and tangible things in
general (desk, classroom, cinema).
(e) countable: These nouns can be counted (one train/two trains).
(f) uncountable or mass: Other nouns cannot be counted (*one butter/*two
butters). These are called uncountable nouns. They refer to general things which
have no clear boundaries and are seen as a whole. Some typical uncountable
nouns include:
(i) substances: water, air, coffee, plastic, iron, paper, etc.

(ii) abstract ideas: life, fun, freedom, health, time, progress, etc.

(iii) activities: work, travel, sleep, football, help, research, etc.

(iv) human feelings: happiness, anger, honesty, hope, respect, courage, love,


(v) groups of items: furniture, luggage, jewellery, etc.

Note: Some nouns may be countable in one context and uncountable in a different
context. When this happens, the meaning of the noun changes: a paper (newspaper),
some paper (a substance/material).

However, if we just look at a characterization based on meaning, we will only

end up with a list of nouns. A list is not enough to define the concept of noun
or explain why a particular word is a noun and others such as pretty or sing are
not. So, we need some criteria to identify nouns taking into account their
internal structure: (a) their form and (b) the position they occupy in the

In the following sections we will deal with these notions for you to be able to
recognise a noun (even when you dont know its meaning).

2. Identification of Nouns: form and position.

As mentioned above, to identify a noun it is more reliable to look at its form

(formal characteristics) or its position in a phrase (distributional

2. 1. Taking into account their form or formal characteristics:

When we talk about the formal characteristics of a word, we concentrate on the

form of the word in isolation without looking at the neighbouring words or
phrases. By looking at the morphological make-up of words we may tell which
class they belong to.

Nouns may be identified by their endings or suffixes. Some of these are shown

(a) education- selection operation- indication

(b) happiness loneliness

(c) performance- reliance


Other endings, such as the plural ending (as in room rooms) or the genitive
(as in children childrens) are also typical endings of nouns.

Yet, morphological criteria are sometimes not enough. For instance, nouns such
as girl and book are simple and do not have a typical ending. Besides the same
ending may form different types of words: component is a noun whereas
impertinent is an adjective. This shows that the form is not always helpful when
trying to identify nouns. When morphological criteria are inadequate to recognise
nouns it is necessary to have a look at their distributional criteria, that is, the way
nouns behave syntactically.

2.2. Taking into account their position or distributional


Nouns may be preceded by determiners (7a) and (7b) and quantifiers (8a) and
(8b). These words specify the nouns they precede. Nouns can also be preceded
by adjectival phrases (APs), for example great, difficult, strong, financial,
abdominal. APs qualify or classify the nouns they precede (9a) and (9b).

(7) a. the cat

b. that boy

(8) a. some flowers

b. three students

(9) a. beautiful girls

b. short answers

3. Grammatical Properties of Nouns

3. 1. Number

Most nouns inflect for number, they have the grammatical property of forming
the plural by the addition of the suffix s: cat cats. These nouns are
regular nouns. However, there is a group of nouns which do not take -s to
form the plural. There is a change in the form of the word: mouse-mice, tooth-


teeth, louse-lice child-children. These nouns are called irregular nouns. Some
nouns have the same form for the singular and for the plural: sheep, fish. These
nouns are called invariable nouns.


N -s table Tables
student students
boy boys
N ending in ch, sh, s, ss or o -es church churches
brush brushes
bus buses
class classes
tomato tomatoes
N ending in y (preceded by a consonant) - country Countries
ies party parties
family families
N ending in f /fe -ves knife Knives
leaf leaves
life lives
Internal vowel change mouse mice
tooth teeth
woman women
A different word person People
child Children
Invariable sheep Sheep
fish Fish
Table 1 Rules to form Plural Nouns

Uncountable nouns are only used with a verb in the singular. They are never
preceded by cardinal numbers:*I bought three furnitures. However, we may
quantify them using a partitive (see table 2 below).


Liquids a bottle of water ; a glass of beer; a tin/can of coke; a carton of juice; a

sachet of milk; a puff of perfume

Grains a bowl of rice; a bar of cereal; a loaf of bread; a dash of pepper

Table 2 Partitives + Uncountable Nouns


3. 2. Distribution

The distribution of nouns refers to the place they occupy in the structure of a
phrase. A noun is always the head of a NP. A noun can occur alone without any
dependent as in (10) or it may be preceded by determiners, quantifiers or
modifiers as in (11):

(10) NP [Lions] are dangerous animals

(11) some pencils - my mother - the [old] church a [computer] game

quant det det AP Q NP

4. Noun + Noun Combinations

Nouns are typically premodified by adjective phrases as in nice girls. However,

other nouns (NPs) can also modify them. The combination Noun+Noun as in
bus stop is extremely productive in English. Since the function and position of
NPs and APs in this particular context is the same, it is only logical to get the
two categories mixed up.

Sometimes the combinations N+N are written as two independent words

(alarm clock, bus stop, police station), sometimes they are written with a
hyphen (a dash) in between (baby-sitter, coffee-table, T-shirt) and sometimes
as a single word or unit (lighthouse).

The first noun in this combination classifies the noun they precede: A coffee
table is a class or type of table. These nouns preceding other nouns are similar
to classifying adjectives in the sense that they are non-gradable; they cannot be
preceded by intensifiers or degree adverbs. It is ungrammatical then to say: *a
very coffee table.



Determiners precede and specify nouns. Words like the, my, this, a/an belong
to this group. Some examples include: the book, my dictionary, this article, his
In some grammars, especially older school grammars, words such as my and
this in phrases like my family and this dictionary are called adjectives because
they are placed in front of nouns. However, it is easy to show that this is wrong.
Adjectives can be stacked (placed one after the other), as in: I have an old fat
brown dog, but this is impossible with determiners: *this my book.
Whats more, determiners have no comparative or superlative forms (*this-er /
*this-est, *my-er / *my-est) and cannot be preceded by a degree adverb (*very
the / *very a). The only reason for calling this and my adjectives is that they
occur in pre-nominal position. But, this fact alone is not an argument which is
strong enough for assigning them to the class of adjectives. The conclusion we
are led to is that this and my belong to a separate word class called determiners.

1. General characteristics

1.1. Position
Determiners precede nouns. They occupy the Spec position in a NP. Words like
the, my, this, his, belong to this group. Some examples include: the book, my
dictionary, this article, his pencil.

1.2. Use
Determiners contribute to the interpretation of the noun they precede in terms
of definiteness and specificity. They specify the way in which new items are
introduced into a discourse. For example, in (12), the NP man is present in the
discourse twice. Yet, once it is introduced for the first time, a man, new
reference to it is already specific, the man.

(12) A man walked into the shop. The shopkeeper greeted the man.


1. 3. Reference

(a) Specific reference: Speaker and listener know who or what the referent is.
This can be either because there is only one entity in the world (13) or because
this entity has been mentioned before (14).

(13) The sun is shining.

(14) I saw a man and a woman in the street. The man was carrying an

(b) General or indefinite reference: The determiner a / an is used when the

noun phrase does not refer to any specific entity, as in (15a) and (15b). It is used
with singular countable nouns. For plural nouns a quantifier is used (15c).

(15) a. I saw Peter with a beautiful woman.

b. I found an interesting magazine in the library.

c. I met two neighbours at the cinema last night.

(c) Generic reference: We may refer to the whole set of entities denoted by the
noun. The zero determiner () assigns a generic interpretation to the noun.
This type of reference is used with plural countable nouns as in (16) and
uncountable nouns (17).

(16) a. Lions are dangerous and beautiful animals.

b. I like flowers

(17) a. They love chocolate.

b. Sugar is bad for your health.

2. Types of Determiners

(a) Definite determiner: the (before count nouns)

the classroom


(b) Indefinite determiner: a / an (before singular count nouns)

a bag, an apple

(c) Possessive determiners: my, your, her, his, our, their

my house; your office; her boyfriend; his dog; our children;
their books

(d) Demonstrative determiners: this, that (before singular nouns); these,

those (before plural nouns)
this man , that classroom, these chapters, those texts

(e) Interrogative determiners: These wh-words introduce questions but precede

Which book do you like best?
Whose book is this?
What colour is her blouse?

Table 3 summarizes what you should remember about determiners:

They assign reference: Specific



POSITION They precede a noun

They include: Definite




Table 3 - Determiners



1. Use and Position

We use quantifiers to indicate the quantity of something. Words such as some,

any, another, other, all, both, either, each, every, etc. belong to this class. The
traditional cardinal numbers one, two, three, and ordinal numbers such as first,
second, third, next, last also belong to this class. Like determiners, quantifiers
may also precede nouns and they occupy the Spec position of a NP.

2. Quantifiers and the number of the noun they follow

2.1. Quantifier + singular noun

(a) another: It is used to talk about an additional person or thing.

Do you want another cup of coffee?

(b) each: It is used to talk about the members of a group as individuals.

Each essay must have its title.

(c) either: It is used to talk about two things, but usually indicates that only one
of the two is involved.
You can use either chair.

(d) every: It is used to express a general statement about the members of a

Every boy in the club should bring sport clothes.

(e) much: It is used with uncountable nouns.

Do you drink much coffee?

2. 2. Quantifier + plural noun

(a) all: It includes every person or thing of a particular kind.

All students must sit for the written assignment.


(b) both: It is used to say something about two people or things.

I need both suitcases.

(c) many: It is used to refer to more than one entity. It is used with countable
She has many friends.

(d) other: It is used to refer to something not already named or implied.

You can buy other books.

2. c. Quantifier+ plural noun or uncountable noun

(a) any: It refers to the quantity of something which may or may not exist.
There arent any tomatoes? Is there any sugar in that cup?

(b) no: It indicates that there is a lack of something.

I have no money. There are no chairs in the classroom.

(c) some: It indicates that there are a number of things or people.

some books, some students or a quantity of something: some rice,
some cheese.


+sing noun +pl noun +pl or uncount

Another All Any
Each Both No
Either Many Some
Every Other much (+uncount N)
Table 3 Combination of Quantifiers and Nouns

3. Combination

Some determiners and quantifiers can be combined. When this combination

takes place there is an order to follow:


3.1 Determiner + Quantifier

Give me the other pen.

He published his first novel.

3.2 Quantifier + Determiner

All the books are interesting.

Some of these books are boring.

When this combination takes place, both the determiner and the quantifier
occupy the specifier position of a NP, as illustrated in the following tree:


spec N
ty g


the other g



The bracketed nominal structures in (18) can be replaced by pronouns as shown

in (19):

(18) [The teacher] told [the students] that [her husband] had bought [a new car].
(19) She told them that he had bought it.

Pronouns appear on their own, i.e. they do not precede nouns (Cf. determiners)
because, in fact, they replace nominal phrases. They belong to a fixed set made
up of a finite number of members.


1. Types of Pronouns

(a) Personal pronouns refer to the first, second and third person in the
discourse, singular or plural. They can occupy two positions: subject and
object (after a verb or after a preposition). According to the place they
occupy in the sentence, personal pronouns are subclassified into:

(1) Subjective pronouns occupy the subject position.

I study Linguistics. I 1st person singular

You are making a great effort. you 2nd pers sing or pl

He / She / It doesnt like milk. he/she/it 3rd pers sing

We are preparing a party. we 1st person plural

They will go to London next month. they 3rd person plural

(2) Objective pronouns are placed after a verb or after a preposition.

Why is she looking at me? me 1st person singular

He will give you the book I recommend. you 2nd pers sing or pl

I have bought a new cup for him / her / it. him/her/it 3rd per sing

They are waiting for us. us 1st person plural

You have to put them on that desk. them 3rd person plural

(b) Possessive pronouns indicate possession.

This book is mine / yours / hers / his / ours / theirs.

(c) Demonstrative pronouns are used to point out a person or a thing.

Look at that!
Listen to this.
These are my books.
Please, give me those.

(d) Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject and the object of the action
are the same.
I hurt myself.


She saw herself in the mirror.

We enjoyed ourselves very much.

(e) Interrogative pronouns introduce a question.

Whos knocking at the door?

Where are you going?
When are you coming?

(f) Indefinite pronouns are used when the person or thing referred to is not
defined: every, some, any, no, + body, one, thing, where:

Somebody is knocking at the door.

She likes nobody.
Is there anything in the fridge?
Everything was understood.
I dont know anyone in this city.
Everyone heard the fight.
I cant find my keys! Ive already looked everywhere.

(g) Expletive pronouns It and There: When the pronoun it is used to make a
statement about the weather or time, it has no meaning. This pronoun is the
subject of the sentence as this position cannot be left empty in English.
Its raining. Its Monday. Its two oclock.
The pronoun there is used to show that someone or something exists.
Theres someone at the door. There are three books on this shelf.


We have already come across a few adjectives, heads of APs that modify nouns: a
beautiful girl, short answers, a hopeless situation, an old car, an impertinent
remark, etc.


1. General characteristics

1. 1. Use
They are used to describe nouns, they give information about the qualities the
noun possesses or the particular class the noun belongs to. Generally they may
answer the question What is it like? (Cmo es algo?)

1.2. Form

Adjectives are invariable. They do not inflect for number. The same form is used
for singular (20) and plural (21).
(20)Mary is tall.
singular N head

(21) Those boys are tall.

plural N head

On the contrary, this is possible in Spanish since we can say:

(22) Mara es alta. (adjective in the singular form)

(23) Esos nios son altos. (adjective in the plural form)

Adjectives can also be identified by looking at their form: the suffixes ful (in
beautiful), and less (in hopeless) are typical adjectival affixes, among others.
However, the adjectives old and impertinent make clear that not all adjectives
have such endings: old is a simple word with no affixes and impertinent ends in -
ent as the noun component. This shows that the form is not always helpful when
trying to identify adjectives.

Adjectives have comparative and superlative forms, e.g. darker, darkest. The
comparative form of an adjective indicates a greater extent to which the normal
form of the adjective applies, while the superlative form indicates the maximal
extent, e.g. bigbiggerbiggest.

The forms goodbetterbest and bad worse worst are exceptional. There is
no resemblance between the absolute form (good and bad) and the comparative
and superlative forms.


Some adjectives form comparatives and superlatives analytically. This means

that there is no single word-form for the comparative and superlative. Instead,
the words more/less and most/least are used. The general rule is that adjectives
with two or more syllables take analytical comparative and superlative forms:
beautiful, eager, hopeless, interesting, practical, etc.

(24) Some subjects are more interesting than others.

(25) Walking home is the least practical thing to do.

2. Classification of Adjectives

2. 1. Syntactic Classification

Adjectives (APs) can be classified taking into account the position they occupy
within a phrase or a sentence. APs typically occupy two positions in English:
the attributive position or the predicative position.

(a) Adjectives in Attributive position: Most APs are used to modify nouns. When
an adjective precedes a noun in an NP, it is said to occur in attributive position.
It supplies more information about the character, nature or state of the noun.

(26) He had rich parents. (attributive adjective)

attributive adjective + noun

Some adjectives are not normally used before a noun. Some examples: afraid,
alive, alone, apart, ashamed, asleep, awake, aware, glad, pleased, ready, sure,
unable, upset, well: Peter isnt upset. *an upset person

(b) Adjectives in Predicative position: Some APs are placed after link verbs, such
as appear, be, become, feel, look, remain, seem, smell and sound.

(27) Mark Zuckerberg is rich. (adjective in predicative position)

(28) His decision appears unintelligent.

(29) This fabric feels soft.

(30) This soup smells strange.


(31) The music sounds great!

The adjectives in the sentences above (27-31) are used to say something about
the referent of another constituent, namely Mark Zuckerberg, his decision, this
fabric, this soup and the music respectively.

Note: Be careful! Some adjectives cannot be used after a verb. Some examples: eventual,
existing, countless, indoor, main, maximum, neighbouring, occasional, only, outdoor, and

a neighbouring village. *The village is neighbouring.

(c) Postpositive adjectives: In English some adjectives follow the noun they
modify, as in: The person responsible will be punished. This post-nominal
position is the norm for adjectives in the Romance languages, e.g. Portuguese,
Italian, Spanish and French.

(32) Mr. Smith is the head-teacher designate for this year.

(33) I dont think she will be the president elect.
(34) They have caught the thieves involved in the crime.
(35) The people present were really enthusiastic.

2. 2. Semantic Classification (taking into account their meaning)

Adjectives can be also classified according to their meaning or the type of

information they add to the noun they modify.

(a) qualitative adjectives: These adjectives refer to a quality, characteristic or

property that something or someone has.

(36) a sad girl; a handsome man; a clever student


Qualitative adjectives are gradable, which means that the thing or person
referred to can have more or less of the quality mentioned. So as to indicate the
amount of quality something or someone has you can use degree adverbs or
degree words such as very, too, so rather, quite, somewhat, extremely in front
of an adjective.

(37) Her advice was very helpful.

(38) That was an extremely inappropriate response.

(39) I think this reader is less interesting than the one we read before.

(40) He was so polite.

(41) This is a very comfortable chair.

(b). Classifying adjectives: These adjectives are used to refer to the particular
class that something belongs to. They are non gradable.

(42) We need financial help.

(43) They are studying the medieval age.
(44) The lawyers have discussed the commercial laws.
(45) Dogs are domestic animals.

To sum up, we can use the criteria above to assign the class a word belongs to.
For instance, the word crazy can be assigned unambiguously to the class of

(46) The crazy plan was ditched.

(47) The plan was crazy.
(48) This is the craziest plan ever proposed.
(49) He is very crazy.

In (46) the adjective crazy precedes the noun plan (attributive position). In
sentence (47) crazy occurs after the link verb be. Example (48) shows the


superlative form of the word. As it is a short adjective, it takes the typical ending.
In sentence (49) the adjective is graded by the degree adverb very.

3. The Order of Adjectives

When preceding a noun, adjectives follow a fixed order. The general order is the
following: value, size, age, temperature, shape, colour, material, origin.

(a) Value adjectives: nice, beautiful, interesting

(b) Size adjectives: big, small, long
(c) Age adjectives: young, old, ancient
(d) Temperature adjectives: hot, cold, warm
(e) Shape adjectives: round, square, rectangular
(f) Colour adjectives: greenish, blue, red
(g) Origin adjectives: French, medieval, English
(h) Material adjectives: wooden, woollen

Det/ Value Physical Description Origin Material Qualifier Noun

Size Shape Age Colour

a Beautiful old yellow Italian touring car

an Expensive antique Silver mirror

our big old English dog

some Delicious Thai food

those enormous young American basketball players

Table 4 Combination of Adjectives preceding Nouns



Main verbs appear on their own or combined with auxiliaries and modals. The
Verb Phrase revolves around the head verb, which is the central element of the
phrase. Not only does the head project its categorial properties to the phrase,
but it also determines the categorial nature of its complements.
Link Verbs join the subject and the predicate. They are also considered main
verbs because they appear alone. The typical link verb is the verb to be (when it
is alone, not preceding another verb): He is a good student. We were at school
last night. They are tall.
There are other verbs that can also be considered link verbs because they do
not select arguments but join the subject and the predicate. These ones only
allow an AP complement. She seems sad. They appear angry. She sounds
tired. The difference between all other verbs and link verbs is that the last ones
do not select arguments.

1. Verb forms
A full verb may appear in different forms. The following chart illustrates that:


(after (in progressive
modals) tenses) (in perfect

study to study Study Studied Studying Studied


see to see See Saw Seeing Seen


Table 4: verb forms

Verbs can be classified into: auxiliaries, modals and main.

1.1 Auxiliaries
There are three auxiliary verbs in English: be, do and have. These are used to
form verb tenses (continuous/progressive and perfect) questions and negative


sentences or to express emphasis. Auxiliary verbs can never appear alone in a

sentence, that is, without a main verb. They always precede another verb.
Auxiliaries carry grammatical information about number, person and tense.
For example, in Peter is working, the auxiliary is carries information about
number: singular, person: third and tense: present. Auxiliary verbs can also be
negated and inverted to form questions.


1. They precede another verb. Paul is working.

2. They carry grammatical information Paul is working. is singular, third

(number, person and tense). person, present

3. They can be negated. Paul is not / isnt working.

4. They can be inverted (precede the Is Paul working?

subject) to form questions.

Table 5 - Auxiliaries

1.1.1 BE (am, is, are, was or were)

This auxiliary is used to form continuous tenses and passive structures. The
verb they combine with may be in the ing form for continuous tenses or in the
past participle form for passive structures.

(50) I am talking to you. am: 1st person, singular, present + -ing form
(51) The letter was written. was: 3rd person, singular, past + -en form

1.1.2 HAVE (has or had)

This auxiliary is used to form perfect tenses. The verb they combine with is
always in the past participle form.

(52) Paul has finished his homework. 3rd person, singular, present
(53) I had already written the composition. 1st person, singular, past


1.1.3 DO (does or did)

This auxiliary is used to form negative sentences, questions and emphatic
statements. The main verb they combine with is always in the base form. The
auxiliary do precedes the negative particle:

(54) I dont study. 1st person, singular, present

(55) He doesnt study. 3rd person, singular, present
(56) We didnt study. 1st person, plural, past

It also precedes the subject in questions:

(57) Do you study? 2nd person, singular/plural, present

(58) Does she study? 3rd person, singular, present
(59) Did they study? 3rd person, plural, past

It precedes the main verb in emphatic structures and the main verb is in the
base form:
(60) A: I didnt offer you chocolate because I thought you didnt like it.
B: But I do like chocolate. 1st person, singular, present
(61) A: You didnt come to the party.
B: I did come but nobody answered the door! 1st person, singular,

The auxiliaries be and have are used to form tenses. They can be combined to
form compound tenses as well. The following chart illustrates continuous and
perfect tenses:

Present continuous I am studying English now.

He is studying English now.
They are studying English now.
Past continuous I was studying English at that moment.
They were studying English at that moment.
Present perfect I have studied English for three years.
He has studied English for three years.

Past perfect I had studied English for three years.

Present perfect continuous I have been studying English for three years.
Past perfect continuous I had been studying for three years.
Table 5 Auxiliaries BE and HAVE alone Auxiliaries BE and HAVE combined


Be, have and do are used as auxiliary verbs when they precede another verb and
help to form verb tenses. But they are main verbs when they appear alone. See
the table below:

BE He is studying. He is a student. (link)
DO Does he study? He does his homework every day. (transitive)
HAVE Have you seen him? He has your folder. (transitive)
Table 6: BE, DO and HAVE as auxiliaries or main verbs

1.2 Modals
Modal verbs precede main verbs in the base form. They are used to express
modality: ability, permission, requests, advice, suggestions, necessity, choice,
regret and deduction among others. They can be negated and precede the
subject in questions. They are invariable: *cans, *canned, *canning. Modals
cannot combine: *I will can go. This group includes: can, could, shall, should,
must, will, would, may, might and must.

(62) He can play the guitar. (ability)

(63) You mustnt drive without the safety belt on. (prohibition)
(64) Would you open the window, please? (request)

1.2.1 Combination of modals and auxiliaries

When both auxiliaries and modals precede main verbs, the order is fixed: modal
+ auxiliary + main verb


Modal + Aux + Verb English can be taught.

Modal + Aux + Aux + Verb English must have been taught there.
Table 7: Combinations of auxiliaries and modals


2. Predicates and arguments

To understand the relation between elements in a sentence, we first need to

introduce some concepts to see how these elements can be related to each other.
Take a simple sentence:
(65) Peter chased Mary.
This sentence describes an event which can be described as chasing involving
two individuals, Peter and Mary, related in a particular way. Specifically, Peter
is the one doing the chasing and Mary is the one getting chased. The verb
describes the event and the two nouns refer to the participants in it. A word
which functions as the verb does here is called a predicate and words which
function as the nouns do are called arguments. Here are some examples of
argument-taking predicates:
(66) a. Selena slept.
argument predicate

b Percy placed the penguin on the podium

argument predicate argument argument

In (66a) we have a sleeping event referred to involving one person, Selena, who
was doing the sleeping. In (66b) there is a placing event described, involving
three arguments: the subject doing the placing, Percy, the Direct Object that
gets placed, the penguin, and the PP locative, indicating the place where it gets
placed, on the podium.
The arguments that are involved in any situation are determined by the
meaning of the predicate. Sleeping can only involve one argument, whereas
placing naturally involves three. We can distinguish predicates in terms of how
many arguments they involve: sleep is a one-place predicate, see is a two-
place predicate involving two arguments and place is a three-place

3. Syntactic classification

Taking into account the number of arguments a verb selects, verbs can be
divided into the following categories:


3.1 Transitive Verbs

Most transitive verbs select, at least, two arguments, as shown in the examples in
(67). The first argument initiates the event which functions as the subject and the
second one receives the action and functions as the complement. The
complement of transitive verbs is called Direct Object (DO).

(67) a. Mary is painting DO[her bedroom].

b. The rain destroyed DO[the crops].
c. Meg loves DO[her husband].
d. You can draw DO[a picture of your family].
e. The snow blocked DO[the roads].
f. The children know DO[the rules of the game].

The complement of transitive verbs is typically realised by a nominal structure (a

Noun Phrase) or by a clause:

(68) V+NP She wanted [some help].

The children enjoyed [the party].

(69) V +Clause She wanted [to buy a book on grammar].

He said [that his father was coming tomorrow].

3.2 Ditransitive verbs

Ditransitive verbs take two complements: the Direct Object (DO) and the Indirect
Object (IO). While the DO answers the question What, the IO answers the
question Who(m)? When the Indirect Object follows the Direct Object, it is
realised by a Prepositional Phrase.

(70) a. He gave DO[the car] IO[to Peter].

b. Paul bought DO[a present] IO[for Jack].

When the Indirect Object precedes the Direct Object, the preposition is omitted.


(71) a. He handed IO[David] DO[a sheet of paper].

b. He had lent IO[him] DO[the money].
c. That man promised IO[my husband] DO[a job].
d. He gave IO[me] DO[his summary].

These verbs need to be differentiated from multiple complement verbs such

as verbs of placement. Even though they select two complements, a NP (direct
object) and a PP (It provides information about location), they cannot be
considered ditransitive as the ones above because they do not select indirect
Another relevant difference is that the PP always follows the NP and these
phrases are not interchangeable, as shown by the ungrammaticality of (72b) and
(73b). However, this is possible with the DO and IO in ditransitive verbs (74).

(72) a. Porter put the book on the shelf.

b.*Porter put on the shelf the book.
(73) a. Prudence placed the penguin on the podium.
b.* Prudence placed on the podium the penguin.
(74) a. Mary lent the summaries to her students.
b. Mary lent her students the summaries.

3.3 Intransitive verbs

They select only one participant which functions as the subject of the sentence, as
shown in the examples in (75).

(75) a. SUBJECT [John] is laughing.

b. SUBJECT [The famous writer] died in 1987.

c. SUBJECT [The little baby] is crying because he is hungry.

d. SUBJECT [The rice] is cooking.
e. Yesterday SUBJECT [an abandoned car] appeared near our school.
f. SUBJECT [My dog] barks all the time.
g. SUBJECT [The butter] has frozen.


h. SUBJECT [John, my brother] is working in Neuqun for an important firm.

i. Suddenly, SUBJECT [the door] opened.

4. Thematic roles

The nature of the arguments is also largely determined by the meaning of the
predicate. A predicate, such as a verb, restricts the number and type of theta
roles. Each of the theta roles corresponds to one argument.
Compare the following:

(76) a. Peter hit Henry

b. Sam sees Susan

In the first case, Peter is the one doing the hitting and Henry is the one getting
hit whereas in the second Sam does the seeing and Susan gets seen. However,
these arguments play very different roles in the two events. With hit the one
doing the hitting consciously performs an action and the one who gets hit is
affected in some way by this. An argument which deliberately performs an
action is called an agent and one who or which is acted upon, a patient or
theme. With see, the arguments are not interpreted as agent and patient
however: Sam is not performing any action and Susan is not getting acted upon
in (76b). Instead, we call these arguments experiencer, for the one who does the
seeing, and theme, for the one who gets seen. Terms such as agent and are
called thematic roles, or theta-roles (-roles) for short.
There are a number of different theta roles such as agent, patient, theme,
instrument, force, benefactive, experiencer, source, goal and locative,
among others but we are going to focus our attention on some of them:

4.1. AGENT
It is the performer or doer of the action. The instigator of the event denoted by
the predicate. It has the features [+Human] [+volition]. It is an external
E.g. The farmer killed the ducklings


It is the living entity that perceives or experiences the event. It has the features
[+human]. Generally, it is an external argument.
E.g. I love my mother
Becki saw the eclipse.

It is the entity that undergoes actions, the one that is perceived, moved or
experienced. It suffers a change of state or location as a result of the action
denoted by the predicate. They are internal arguments.
E.g. Susan loves cookies.
The farmer killed the ducklings.
The farmer repaired the fence.

4.4. GOAL
The entity in the direction of which something moves.
E.g. Millie went to Chicago.
Travis was given a Semantics article. (abstract motion)

The location or entity from which something moves.
E.g. She picked the kids from school.

The specification of the place where the action or event denoted by the
predicate is situated.
E.g. She put the books on the shelf.

Note: Either too many, too few or the wrong kinds of arguments result in


5. Semantic classification

As it can be seen in the section above, intransitive verbs are not a uniform class,
even though they all select one argument. To distinguish them not only the
number of arguments is relevant but also the type of argument they select.
Thus, they can be further subdivided considering their semantic properties.
The lexical properties of individual verbs will play a large role in determining
the type of argument they select.

5.1 Unaccusative verbs

Unaccusatives take one NP argument, an internal argument to which they

assign a theme -role. They may also, optionally in most cases, take a locative or
path argument expressed by a PP:

(77) a. A letter arrived (in the mail box) (from the tax office).
b. The train departed (from the station) (to Helsinki).
c. The disease spread (to other towns).
d. The heater stood against the wall.
e. The gas appeared (from nowhere).
f. The snow settled (on the roof).
g. The Picts lived in Scotland.

These verbs are typically verbs of movement, permanence, (dis)appearance or

existence. As shown in the examples in (78), unaccusatives cannot be used
transitively because they only select one argument, an internal argument:

(78) a. *He arrived the letter.

b. *They departed the train.
c. *The magician appeared a rabbit.
d. *The Romans lived the Picts in Scotland.


The verbs in (79) also select an internal argument but they are not movement or
locative verbs, but typically involve a change of state, that is why, they are
generally considered as selecting a patient theta role.

(79) a. The window broke.

b. The door closed.
c. The glass shattered.
d. The ship sank.
e. The bomb exploded.
f. The tree grew.

5.2 Unergative verbs

Unergative verbs are also verbs with one argument, but unlike unaccusatives
this argument is an external argument with either an agent.

(80) a. Sam smiled.

b. Jerry danced.
c. Stan slept.

One salient characteristic of an unergative verb, as opposed to an unaccusative

one, is its ability to take a cognate object (81):

(81) a. Sam smiled an evil smile.

b. Jerry danced a merry dance.
c. Richard died a tragic death.
d. Stan slept a restless sleep.

6. Passive voice

When the focus of a sentence is NOT on the entity that performs the event, the
agent, but on the event itself, the structure used is passive voice. As we have
already studied, only transitive or ditransitive verbs select an external and at
least one internal argument.


Sentence (83) is a passive sentence that derives from the active sentence (82),
where the internal argument (the windows) whose thematic role is Patient/
Theme has moved to subject position and the external argument (Peter) whose
thematic role is Agent may be left implicit or expressed by means of a
Prepositional Phrase introduced by the preposition by. When this PP is present,
it functions as a modifier of the whole sentence.

(82) Peter cleans the windows every Monday.

(83) The windows are cleaned by Peter every Monday.

In the passive structure the auxiliary be is followed by the main verb in the past
participle form. In (83), the plural auxiliary are is followed by the transitive verb
cleaned in the past participle form.
Examples (84b) and (85b) illustrate passive structures where transitive (84a)
and ditransitive (85a) verbs are involved. Since example (84) includes a
ditransitive verb that selects two complements, there are two different
possibilities of passive structures (A and B).

(84) a. Active form: Julian Barnes wrote the book Talking it Over.
b. Passive form: The book talking it Over was written by Julian Barnes.
(85) a. Active form: My sister gave a present to her boyfriend.
b. Passive form: A) A present was given to my sisters boyfriend.
B) My sisters boyfriend was given a present.

When there is a sequence of auxiliaries in a sentence, each auxiliary determines

the form of the following one and they always occur in the same order, that is to
say: modal auxiliary + perfective auxiliary + progressive auxiliary + passive
auxiliary + main verb in past participle form (86-88).

(86) The windows must be cleaned by Peter.

(87) The windows must have been cleaned by Peter.
(88) The windows must have been being cleaned by Peter.


It is important to consider that both internal arguments and external arguments

in the active form continue being internal and external arguments in a passive
structure but while internal arguments appear in subject position, external
arguments can be left implicit or expressed in a by-phrase modifier. Thematic
roles in the active form remain the same in the passive voice. In the examples
above, even though the NP the windows occupies the subject position, generally
reserved for external arguments, it is still an internal argument which receives
the theta-role of Theme.




Scrooge and the Ghost were in another ROOM. It was not very large but IT was
very COMFORTABLE. A BEAUTIFUL young GIRL SAT by the fire. She
LOOKED like Belle and SCROOGE thought it was Belle. Then he saw Belle.
She was now an ATTRACTIVE WOMAN, and she was sitting opposite her
daughter. They were laughing HAPPILY. The room was very NOISY. 1[There
were more CHILDREN than Scrooge could count].

Just then, 2[there was a knock at the door] and everyone ran towards it. The
father came in. He was carrying lots of Christmas toys and presents. With
happiness, the children dived into his pockets. Their happiness was
indescribable. Then one by one the children left the room, climbed to the
top of the house and went to bed. And now Scrooge saw the master of the house.
She was sitting happily with her daughter and her mother by the fire. She could
be my daughter, he thought, and his eyes filled with tears.

Ghost, said Scrooge in a sad voice, take me away from this place. I cant bear
it! He turned to the Ghost. It looked down at him. And he saw pieces of
all the faces from his past in its face. The Ghosts light was very bright.
Scrooge grabbed the cap, and quickly pressed it down on the Ghosts head.
4Scrooge pressed the cap down with all his strength, but he could not hide the
light. He felt very tired. He gave the cap one last squeeze. Then his hand relaxed.
He was in his bedroom now. He was exhausted so he got into bed and fell
Adapted from: Dickens, C. (2008) A Christmas Carol. Helbling Languages.


1. SUBJECT AND PREDICATE: identify the SUBJECT in the following

underlined sentences in the text.

2. Identify the PREDICATE and the verb in the sentences in bold.


3. Look at the sentences in square brackets in the text and answer

the questions below.

1. What is the subject?

2. Can you identify an antecedent in the context?
3. What is the verb in the predicate?
4. Does the subject show agreement of person and number with the verb?

4. WORD CLASSES: classify the words in CAPITAL letters in

paragraph 1.

5. LINK VERBS: identify link verbs and classify the complements

that follow them.


1The way you think about your own body is called your body image. If you have
a negative body image, it means you dont like your body. If you dont like your
body, you probably dont like yourself. In this way, body image is connected to
self-esteem. Self-esteem is how much you value yourself. There are several
ways to improve your body; however, they dont always result in higher self-
2Plastic surgery is one way of changing your body. In the past, people thought
only famous people had plastic surgery. But now, millions of people have
plastic surgery each year. Some people with a negative body image think plastic
surgery can solve their problems. In fact, people who have low self-esteem are
often disappointed after plastic surgery. They expect the surgery to change
their body image, but many patients are still not happy with their appearance.
Sometimes, the real reason for a negative body image is psychological, not
physical. So plastic surgery alone cannot help them. They need to learn to
appreciate everything about themselves, not just their appearance.
3You can also try to improve your body through how and what you eat. A good
diet consists of eating the proper amounts of good foods. If you follow a good
diet for a long time, you can lose weight and feel better about yourself over
time. Unfortunately, many people are impatient. They have a negative body
image, and they want to change their body immediately. To lose weight, they
stop eating for one or two days. This is called crash dieting. It never works.


They lose weight temporarily, but gain it back immediately. Gaining the weight
back makes people feel like they failed, which actually lowers their self-esteem
more. Proper dieting can help people improve their body image, but crash
dieting is usually not successful.
4A third way to change your body is through exercise. Exercise can change the
shape of your body. It can also make you feel more energetic and relieve your
stress. These are important because changing how you feel can change your
body image, too. But too many people go to a health club and then stop after a
few days because exercise is difficult. Their muscles hurt, and they do not see
immediate results, so they give up. They think they have failed, and this can
lower their self-esteem. Exercise, like a proper diet, can take a long time to have
a noticeable effect. People who include regular exercise in their daily life
experience the benefits over a long time. Just a few days of exercise cannot
produce the desired effects.
5People with a negative body image might benefit from plastic surgery, diet or
exercise. However, these methods are most successful when people use them
Adapted from: Prochaska, E. (2005). Reading for the real world. Compass Publishing: 38-40.


1. Classify and fully describe the underlined nouns.

2. Underline all the quantifiers you find. Classify the quantifiers into
2 groups.

1. Quantifiers that give information about quantity.

2. Quantifiers that give information about order.

3. Add examples of your own to each group.

4. Classify the adjectives in bold type. Take into account their

syntactic position and their semantic characteristics.

5. Classify the Pronouns in bold and italics.

6. Underline 10 determiners and classify them.



1At 6:15 2soft classical music wakes me up. For five minutes I stretch and touch
3my toes. Then I meditate 4in a quiet garden beside my large bedroom. After a
hot shower I put on 5my jeans and a silk shirt. Next, I have fresh orange juice
and hot tea with my husband and son. 6After this delicious breakfast I jump into
my car and go 7to school. In class I never feel shy 8when I speak English. After
school I 9do my homework. In the evening I am with my lovely family. 10We go
to bed late 11because we need only four hours of sleep.
Taken from: McCullough, C. (1977) The Thorn Birds. Penguin Readers.


1. Make questions for the underlined phrases in text 3.

2. STATEMENTS: say whether the statements below are true or false.

Justify your answers using morphological and distributional
criteria. Provide examples.

1. The word my is an adjective in the phrase my large bedroom.

2. The word shower is an adjective in the phrase after a hot shower because it
ends in er.
3. Four is a noun in the phrase only four hours of sleep.


It was AFTER midnight. Adam sat 1on the sofa in his tiny apartment. The room
was 2dark, except for the light from the TELEVISION screen. The video he was
watching was one he had pieced together over the years. The Adventures of a
Klan Bomber, he called it. It started 3with a television news report from 1967
about the bombing of a Jewish church. The Kramer bombing was next. People
were seen running to the remains of MARVINs office, while the police tried to
push THEM back. 4A cloud of dust and smoke hung over the ruins. Voices
shouted and the camera rocked as it captured 5the shocking scene.

The video cut from the bombing scene to the front of the jail, WHERE Sam
Cayhall was being led to a car. It was 1967, TWENTY-THREE years ago. 6Sam
was forty-six years old. At the time, Adam was a LITTLE boy, known as Alan
Cayhall; soon after that, he was taken to a DISTANT state where he was given a
new name. Now Adam pressed the PAUSE button and stared for the
MILLIONTH time into the face of his grandfather.


7The video continued with more pictures of Sam outside various jails and
courthouses. One scene showed 8Marvin Kramer after the second trial. He was
in his wheelchair on the sidewalk outside the courthouse. He suddenly 9saw two
Klansmen dressed in white and began shouting at them. They made some
CRUEL remark, and Marvin WENT CRAZY, screaming and cursing. He spun
the METAL wheel of his chair, chasing after them, the cameras recording it all.
10Thewheelchair turned over, and Marvin fell out on to the GRASS, crying in an
odd HIGH-PITCHED voice.
11When the video ended, Adam stared at the blank SCREEN. 12Behind the sofa
were three large BOXES which contained 13the rest of the stories, endless pages
of notes on all three trials; copies of all the documents relating to the case since
the last trial; hundreds of newspapers stories about Sam; notes from the law
school. Adam knew 14more about his grandfather than anyone alive. But he also
knew that the man was a MYSTERY to him.
Taken from: Grisham, J. (1994) The Chamber. Doubleday.


1. Provide questions for the underlined phrases in the text above.

What type of phrase is the underlined constituent?

2. Classify the words in CAPITAL letters. Provide a complete

description of all of them. Write your answers down. In case they are
nouns, classify them into proper and common; regular and
irregular, countable and uncountable, etc.


1The expedition left Khalid quickly and started to go up the mountain paths. The
paths were stony and it was not easy to walk on them. But there was no snow.
Sometimes the expedition met travelers on the road. They were coming from
the north. Their tired horses were carrying heavy goods. They were going to sell
their goods in the markets of Kabul.
2Professor Lugner talked to the travelers about the Toruk. Have you seen the
Toruk or the Toruks claw marks? the Professor asked them. The travelers
talked quietly to each other before they replied.


3We have not seen the Toruk, they said at last. But they told the Professor
about men who had been killed by the Toruk.
4Afterwards, Abdul talked to the travelers and asked them about their journey.
5The weather has been very bad, Abdul said to Larry. The Manta Pass is full
of snow. It is very dangerous.

6The expedition climbed higher up the mountain paths. Larry was very happy.
He was in the mountains. He had a job which he liked. Every day was
different. Larry sometimes thought about his job in England.
7After dinner, Larry went to his tent. He got out his notebook and wrote the date
at the top of the page. Then he wrote down what had happened that day.
Adapted from: Landon, J. (2005). Claws. Macmillan Readers. Elementary.


1. SUBJECT AND PREDICATE: identify the subjects and predicates in

the sentences in paragraphs 1, 6 and 7.

2. Write questions for the underlined phrases.

3. What do the pronouns in bold refer to?


Why do PEOPLE drink bottled water? MOST people say they drink BOTTLED
water because it is HEALTHY. But is it really? Bottled water is marketed as a
PURE product, but that is not always what you find in the bottle.

In NORTH AMERICA, about 40 percent of all bottled water comes from city
water SUPPLIES. Sometimes, THE bottled water receives treatment to clean it,
but 1[some of THIS water is not actually purified] because it does not receive
treatment! In North America, THEY dont have laws requiring COMPANIES to
clean the bottled water they sell. A company CAN fill ALL the bottles with the
same water that WE use in OUR sinks and showers at home, and sell it to US at
a HIGHER price!
2[Bottled water is labeled in THREE DIFFERENT ways]. The first kind, spring
water, really comes from a NATURAL spring. The second class is mineral
water. THIS only indicates that the water contains SOME minerals. It does not
mean that the WATER is purified or that it comes from a natural source. Finally,
THERE is purified water. This kind is water that has been cleaned in some


way. However, CONSUMERS cannot know where the water came from only by
this name.

So, when you pick up a bottle of refreshing water, do you really know what you
are drinking?
Adapted from: Prochaska, E. (2005). Reading for the real world- Intro. Compass Publishing. 84


1. Classify the words in CAPITAL letters. Provide a complete

description of all of them. Write your answers down.

2. Describe the underlined verbs fully. Take into account their

semantic and syntactic classification.

3. STATEMENTS: say whether the statements below are true or false.

Justify your answers using morphological and distributional
criteria. Provide examples.

1. The PP whose head is the preposition by always recovers the external

participant with the agent -role.
2. The word sinks in the sentence We use in our sinks and showers at home
is a verb in third person, singular number and present tense.
3. All words ending in ed are always regular verbs.

4. Describe the bracketed sentences fully. Include the type of

construction, the subjects and predicates, the type of verbs they
contain and the number and type of argument these verbs select.

1Arttold HIM that the INVESTIGATION into THE death of CARL Heine had led
him, quite naturally, to ask questions of Carls relatives. HEs gone to see Etta
Heine, and from HER to Ole Jurgensen. After that, he felt he had to go and
search Kabuo Miyamotos boat.
2To have the RIGHT to make such a SEARCH, Art Moran had gone to Judge
Fielding. He had gone to see him at the end of the afternoon and had persuaded
him that he had good reasons for seeing Miyamoto THIS way. Judge Fielding
was not happy about him making the search THERE was still NO EVIDENCE
that Carl Heines DEATH was not an accident. And he insisted that the sheriff
should only search the boat.


3When Kabuo Miyamoto came to the WATERSIDE THAT evening, he saw

thirty or forty SEAGULLS sitting on HIS boat. He started to get on, and they
seemed to rise as one being, a great white mass of wings beating above his head.
They flew overhead FIVE or six times in a great circle that took in the entire
port and settled on the sea.
4Kabuos heart worked hard in his chest he had never seen ANYTHING like
THIS before and did not know whether it was a good or BAD sign. He went
down into the boat and opened the battery cover. He slid his new battery into
place and connected IT. Finally he started the ENGINE.
5SheriffMoran and his DEPUTY arrived as Kabuo was preparing to leave the
port. The sheriff told him they had to search the boat. Kabuo had asked why
and was told that they had come because of the death of Carl Heine and that
they were looking for a murder WEAPON. Kabuo read the document that gave
them AUTHORITY and told THEM to go ahead hed not killed Carl Heine and
they were wasting THEIR time.
Taken from: Guterson, D. (1994) Snow Falling on Cedars. Harcourt Brace.

1. Analyse the words in CAPITAL letters. What category are they?
Describe them fully.

2. Analyse the verbs in bold. Describe them fully, mentioning the

type of verb and their specific characteristics, such as the number of
participants they select (if they do) or the grammatical information
they carry (in the case of auxiliaries).

3. STATEMENTS: say whether the statements below are true or false.

Justify your answers using morphological and distributional
criteria. Provide examples.

1. The word quite in the phrase the death of Carl Heine had led him, quite
naturally is an adverb.
2. The word times in the phrase they flew overhead five or six times is an
uncountable noun.
3. The word murder in the phrase looking for a murder weapon is an



1Gradually the family began to settle down in the new home. The Crogheda
lands were enormous, and the nearest small town, Gillanbone, was forty miles
away. Paddy and the boys loved the life. They often spent days away from home,
riding their horses and sleeping under the stars.
2Although it was still early spring, the weather was hot. Then in the middle of
January, black rainclouds appeared. Paddy and the boys worked long hours,
moving the sheep away from the river onto higher ground. Father Ralph came to
help. He rode a horse that Mary Carson had given him, as he went with Frank
and the dogs to move the sheep from the banks of the river. Frank looked at the
priest and envied him, his beautiful horse and his expensive clothes. Of all the
boys, Frank was the least happy at Crogheda. He wanted to leave and go to
3On the evening of the second day, when Frank and Father Ralph had managed
to move all the sheep, the rains fell. Within minutes the ground was a sea of
mud, and as they approached the river, they had to get down from their horses.
When they got to the river the horses were able to cross but the men couldnt; it
was too deep and too fast. At last Paddy came with a rope and pulled them
4Mary sat in her chair and wished that she was a younger woman. When at least
the rain stopped and Father Ralph returned to Gillanbone, he had a cheque for
one thousand pounds in his pocket. The bishop would be pleased with him.
Taken from: McCullough, C. (1977) The Thorn Birds. Penguin Readers.


1. Find 4 examples of each word class: adjectives, pronouns,

determiners and quantifiers. Explain why they can be placed in the
word class you propose. Write your answers down.

2. Consider the underlined verbs and classify them considering the

context in which they appear. Indicate the type and number of
arguments. Then, look them up in the dictionary and say whether
they can/cannot belong to another class. In case they do, provide
examples to back up your answers.

3. STATEMENTS: say whether the statements below are true or false.

Provide relevant examples to justify your answers.


1. The verb sleep in the first paragraph is a transitive verb.

4. REFERENCE: what do the pronouns in bold refer to?


The next morning, the Darcys carriage stopped outside the inn where Elizabeth
and the Gardiners were 1staying. Elizabeth 2saw their carriage from the window
of the inn. She 3blushed and 4looked very anxious. The Gardiners 5were
surprised at her embarrassment. Miss Darcy and her brother 6came in. Then
Mr. Darcy introduced her sister to Elizabeth and the Gardiners. Miss Darcy was
tall. She 7had a pretty face and her manners were very good. Georgiana Darcy
was not proud but very shy and polite. Elizabeth 8was delighted.
2Darcy 9told Elizabeth that Bingley was also hoping to see her. In a few minutes,
Bingley 10arrived. He 11spoke to Elizabeth politely and kindly and 12asked about
her family. Bingley 13said to Elizabeth, We last met on the 26th of November
no more than eight months ago. As the young people talked to each other, Mr.
and Mrs. Gardiner watched with great interest. They could 14see that Mr. Darcy
15admired Elizabeth. And they decided that he was in love with her. They were

not sure that Elizabeth was in love with him.

Bingley told Elizabeth that he had many questions to ask about his friends in
Hertfordshire. He wanted to talk to Elizabeth about Jane! Before they left the
inn, Mr. Darcy 16invited Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner and Elizabeth to dinner at

That night, Elizabeth lay awake for two hours. How did she feel about Mr.
Darcy? She did not 17hate him. She now believed he was a kind and intelligent
man. It was clear that Mr. Darcy wanted to please her. And he wanted her uncle
and aunt to think well of him. He must still 18love her!
Taken from: Austen, J. (2205) Pride and Prejudice. Macmillan Readers. Intermediate.


1. Classify the underlined verbs. Provide a full description

mentioning the type of verb and their specific characteristics, such
as the number of participants they select (if they do) or the
grammatical information they carry (in the case of auxiliaries).

2. STATEMENTS: say whether the statements below are true or false.

Justify your answers using morphological and distributional
criteria. Provide examples.


1. Adjectives always precede nouns and are inside the NP.

2. The word did in the sentence How did she feel about Mr. Darcy? Is the main
3. The word her in the phrase her manners is a possessive pronoun.

1From the air, all that could be seen were two ordinary-looking wooden houses,
set among the rolling wheat fields. The security wire fences that surrounded the
site were hidden with hedges. But below, deep in the hills, were two tunnels
with elevators leading deep underground, caves connected by underground
passages. One had a printing press, another was full of weapons. There were
living spaces. One was a library. The largest was the central hall where members
gathered for speeches, films and meetings.
2The newspapers that arrived each day were first read by a man named Roland
Forchin. He lived in his hiding secret place most of the time. If a story in one of
the papers caught his attention, he would mark it and later make a copy of it
and give it to the computer desk. Mostly he collected stories about right-wing
groups similar to his.
3This particular morning was different. He first smelled trouble when he saw a
picture of Sam Cayhall in a San Francisco daily. The news was that the oldest
man on death row in America would now be represented by his grandson.
Roland read it three times. After an hour, hed read the same story in several
different papers.
4Roland had followed the case of Sam Cayhall for many years. It was the type of
case that interested his organization, but he had a more personal interest in the
case. He wanted Sam Cayhall dead. One of Rolands other names, known only to
himself, was Rollie Wedge. He had left the United States in 1967, after the
Kramer bombing, and since then had lived in many different countries.
5He had been dreaming of Cayhalls death for twenty-three years. He and Sam
shared a secret. When Sam was finally executed, Rolland would no longer have
to fear that that secret would ever be revealed. This kid worried him. Rolland
hadnt managed to trace Sams son and his family. He knew about the daughter
in Memphis, but the son had disappeared. And now this nice-looking, well-
educated young lawyer had arrived from nowhere to save his grandfather.
Over the years, Sam had refused to say anything. If he was going to talk, it
would be now.
6Roland would have to go to Memphis.
Taken from: Grisham, J. (1994) The Chamber. Doubleday.



1. Analyse the verbs in bold. Describe them fully, mentioning the

type of verb and their specific characteristics, such as the number of
participants they select (if they do) or the grammatical information
they carry (in the case of auxiliaries).

2. Analyse the underlined sentences. What type of construction are

they? Describe them fully. Mention their subjects and predicates, the
type of verbs they contain and the number and type of argument
these verbs select.

3. STATEMENTS: say whether the statements below are true or false.

Justify your answers using morphological and distributional
criteria. Provide examples.

1. The word security in the NP the security wire fences is the head of the
2. The word living in the sentence there were living spaces is a verb.
3. The word interested in the phrase it was the type of case that interested his
organization is a verb.
4. The word disappeared in the phrase the son had disappeared is a verb that
selects two arguments.

1Meggie and Luke were married very QUIETLY in Gillanbone and they left the
same evening on the long train journey to North Queensland.
2They spent the FIRST night of their MARRIAGE sitting on a crowded slow
train which went from north-east to Goondiwindi. When they got THERE they
had to wait for another train. There was nothing to eat or drink at the station
because IT was Sunday. They changed trains again at Brisbane. Once again
they had to sit up because Luke had bought second class seats.
3Meggie sat beside the window and looked out. Luke seemed to think that she
was a child, but she was too young to argue. She wanted to be a good wife, and
she remembered how her father had loved her mother. In time, Luke would be
the same.

The train was crowded as it made ITS way slowly northwards. Meggies head
ached, and she felt sick. It grew hotter and hotter and her LOVELY new dress
became dirty. She almost hated Luke, WHO didnt seem to be tired at all.


4Late on Thursday afternoon they got off the train. Meggie could hardly walk.
Luke asked at the station for the address of a cheap hotel, picked up their
CASES and went off down the street. Their room was small and full of ugly old
furniture, but it seemed like heaven to Meggie. She fell onto the bed.
Taken from: McCullough, C. (1977) The Thorn Birds. Penguin Readers.


1. Consider the verbs in bold and classify them considering the

context in which they appear. Indicate the type and number of

2. WORD CLASSES: classify the words in CAPITAL letters.

3. Make questions for the underlined phrases in text 11.

4. STATEMENTS: say whether the statements below are true or false.

Provide relevant examples to justify your answers.

1. The verb seem, in the sentence Luke seemed to think that she was a child in
the third paragraph, is a link verb.
2. The verb had, in the phrase how her father had loved her mother, is a main


More and more adults are enrolled on courses nowadays. 1Some of them are
sent for further training by their employers to acquire new skills. Others want a
change of career, so 2new qualifications are needed. For many adults, 3learning
isnt seen as something only for school children. Studying a subject can be fun
and a good way to socialize. And these days, 4many courses arent taken in a real
school. Adults are studying more in later life by distance or online learning.
5Books are sent to their home. 6Course material is emailed by their online tutor.
On some courses, 7the lessons are taught with videoconferencing. It all helps
with the belief that education doesnt have to stop when you leave school.
Adapted from: Hughes, J. (2014) Life Pre intermediate. Cengage Learning: 165.


1. Analyse the underlined sentences. What type of constructions are
they? Describe them fully. Mention their subjects and predicates, the
type of verbs they contain and the number and type of argument
these verbs select. Write your answers down.

2. STATEMENTS: say whether the statements below are true or false.

Explain why. Provide examples to justify your answers.

1. The word change in the sentence Others want a change of career is a

transitive verb.

2. External arguments are always required in passive structures.

3. The PP introduced by the preposition by in the by distance or online

learning recovers the recovers the external participant with the agent -role.

4. Any verb can be passivized.

Text 13: CAVE ART

There are cave paintings and cave art all over Europe. 1Famous examples were
found in Lascaux, France and Altimera, in Spain many years ago. In 2003, 2new
paintings were discovered by researchers in Nottinghamshire, northern
England. THE question is, 3why were they painted? THERE are MANY theories
but many experts agree that early hunters and priests or shamen gathered
BEFORE a hunt to pray for good LUCK. 4Animal gods or spirits were
worshipped in the hope that the hunt would be SUCCESSFUL. After the hunt,
5the events were recorded in drawings or paintings. 6Natural dyes and colours
were used and 7paints were made from substances such as BLOOD, plants and
earth. Often, 8animals were carved from wood or stone and SOMETIMES 9these
objects were left next to the paintings. Whatever the origins of the cave
paintings, people are still amazed by THEIR beauty and MYSTERY.
Adapted from: Hughes, J. (2014) Life Pre intermediate. Cengage Learning: 165.

1. Classify the words in CAPITAL letters. Provide a complete
description of all of them. Write your answers down.


2. Analyse the underlined sentences. What type of construction are

they? Describe them fully. Mention their subjects and predicates, the
type of verbs they contain and the number and type of argument
these verbs select. Write your answers down.

3. STATEMENTS: say whether the statements below are true or false.

Justify your answers using morphological and distributional
criteria. Provide examples.

1. The word cave in the phrase there are cave paintings is an adjective.
2. The word hunt in the phrase early hunters and priests or shamen
gathered before a hunt to pray for good luck is a transitive verb.




1. Look at the following sets of sentences and answer.

(a) What are the similarities and differences between the underlined/bold words
in each set?
(b) What does the suffix S show/mean in each word?
(c) What other nouns can you identify in each sentence?

(1) a. Peter waters his tomatoes every morning.

b. The flowers need more water.

(2) a. Teenagers have a lot of drinks at the disco.

b. The teacher drinks coffee during the grammar lesson.

(3) a. Daniel Gilbert published his book called Stumbling Happiness in 2006.
b. Harry booked a table for his family in an important restaurant.


1. Compare the words in bold type in the following sets of sentences

and state whether they belong to the same word class or not. Explain
their differences and similarities.

(1) a. That grammar book is very expensive.

b. That is an expensive book.

(2) a. I told her to come back

b. She was sitting happily with her daughter and her mother.

(3) a. There is a man in the street

b. The man in the street is my teacher



1. Analyse the following set of sentences and answer.

(a) What is the difference between the words in bold type?
(b) What is the difference between the two sentences?

1. There isnt any sugar at home, lets buy some.
2. Tom has 3 brothers but I dont have any.


1. Consider the sentence below and answer the following questions:

1. Mary asked her father if Mary could go out with her friends

(a) How would you replace the NPs in bold type? Why?
(b) What features do the NP and the pronoun share?

2. Identify the pronoun in this sentence. What type of pronoun is it?

1. That is my favourite colour.

3. Compare that in the following sentences. What are the

differences and similarities?

1. That is my favourite colour.

2. That book is mine.
3. I cant believe that she said that to that boy.


4. Identify the pronouns in the following sentences and answer the

questions below.

1. Carol accidentally cut herself.

2. Everyone had a great time at the party.
3. The house where he lived during his childhood is in the countryside.

a. What type of pronouns are they? Say why by referring to their salient
b. Can you include more words to each group?


1. Identify the adjectives in the following sentences. Describe them

fully: type, function, position and type of information conveyed.

(1) Tandil is a touristic city but it is not an expensive place.

(2) I always have a good time.
(3) Prices are high.
(4) There are lots of beautiful beaches in the world.
(5) There are a lot of comfortable hotels and resorts.
(6) The water is so clear and the rainforests are amazing.
(7) I'm going to talk about this amazing city in the US.
(8) It's amazing!
(9) I always like the most expensive shoes!
(10) My mother is the best cook Ive ever known!
(11) Neuqun is more expensive than General Roca.
(12) General Roca is smaller than Neuqun.

2. Compare these two sentences. Explain the ungrammaticality of

sentence (1).

(1) Yesterday I met a beautiful tall young British girl.

(2) *Yesterday I met a tall British young beautiful girl.



1. Provide the suitable question for the underlined constituents in

the following sets of sentences.

(1) a. When the video ended, Adam stared at the blank screen.
b. When the video ended, Adam stared at the blank screen.
c. When the video ended, Adam stared at the blank screen
d. When the video ended, Adam stared at the blank screen.

(2) a. A cloud of dust and smoke hung over the ruins.

b. A cloud of dust and smoke hung over the ruins.
c. A cloud of dust and smoke hung over the ruins.

(3) a. The room was dark.

b. The room was dark.


1. Mark the morphological boundaries and state whether the
underlined morphemes are inflectional or derivational in the
following words.

(1) Easier
(2) Grandfathers
(3) Unhappiest
(4) Failed
(5) Unemployment
(6) Wants
(7) Eatable
(8) Quickly


2. Identify the part of speech of each word in the sentences below.

(1) a. John likes eating nice food.

b. The workers must have built the bridge near Boston.
c. A friend of mine gave a book to Johns brother.

3. The following word forms can have more than one grammatical
category. State which these categories are and create sentences in
order to show their different distribution.

(1) Leaves
(2) Lead
(3) Costs
(4) Fly
(5) Rings
(6) Tears
(7) Water
(8) Rules
(9) Present
(10) Mine
(11) Left
(12) Long
(13) Fast


1. Consider the verbs in the sentences below and indicate: verb type
(syntactic and semantic classification) and number and type of
arguments they select.

(1) Richard annoys his boss so much that hell never get a promotion.
(2) Mary brings Mrs. Smith lunch every day.


(3) The bomb exploded in the city center.

(4) John set the table for dinner last night.
(5) The sun sets at 8 every day.
(6) The music suddenly stopped.
(7) She stopped the car.
(8) She seems happy.
(9) You look nice today.
(10) Are you looking at me?

2. Analyse the sets of verbs below and classify them into the
appropriate type in each sentence. To do so, take into account the
number and type of participants each verb selects in each particular

(1) a. My father runs a-bed-and-breakfast establishment.

b. The dog ran in our garden.
c. The river runs North.

(2) a. They moved one day and nobody knows where they went.
b. They moved the furniture and now the place looks bigger.

(3) a. They cheered enthusiastically.

b. My friends cheered the band.

(4) a. Mary tripped at school and everybody laughed at her.

b. Martin tripped Pablo in the hall.

(5) a. The kids were playing football and they broke the window.

b. I knock the glass over and it broke.

(6) a. Do you want any help? ~ No, thanks. I can manage perfectly well on my


b. He had been managing the business for six years before it made a

(7) a. I was out when she called.

b. She called me a cheat and a liar.

(8) a. The plane landed successfully.

b. The pilot landed the plane safely.

(9) a. His voice carries well. (=projects)

b. Nowadays students carry very heavy backpacks to school.

(10) a. The auxiliary verb is missing.

b. I miss my boyfriend.

3. TYPE AND NUMBER OF ARGUMENTS: Look at the following

sentences. Identify the verbs and list the number and type of theta-
roles each one selects. Then, explain why the sentences are

(1) Brian gave the book to Mary.

(2) * gave the book to Mary.

(3) * Brian gave the book.

(4) * Brian gave to Mary.

(5) * Brian gave the book the pen to Mary.

(6) * The rock gave the sky with the fork.

(7) * The magician disappeared the rabbit.

(8) *It happened and accident



1. Write the passive construction for the following sentences. Then

discuss the changes and the form of the structure. Have you kept the

(1) They have taught French at that school for a long time
(2) The students are printing out course material at the moment.
(3) Will you give your mother a present for her birthday?

2. Consider the passive sentence The luggage has been sent to

Australia answer the following.

(a) What is the tense?

(b) What type of verb is it? How many participants does it select?
(c) What is the role assigned to the subject?
(d) Can you identify another participant?
(e) Is there an agent?
(f) How can you recover it?

3. STATEMENTS: decide whether the following statements are true

or false and justify your answer by providing evidence.

1. Any verb can be passivized.

2. In passive constructions with more than one auxiliary BE always carries tense
and agreement.
3. In passive sentences the external argument still occupies an argument

4. UNGRAMMATICAL SENTENCES: why are these sentences

ungrammatical? Explain whether the error is related to:

(a) wrong word class;

(b) form of the verb;

(c) verb type and missing or extra arguments.


(1) *The doctor recovered the patient.

(2) *The clothes ironed.
(3) *The contract broke
(4)?? The table bought a present.
(5)*It appeared a mouse in the house!
(6) The professor was given for her research work.
(7) * The beautiful is cooking.
(8) * I can walking.
(9) * The car red is more expensive.
(10) * The composition was wrote.
(11) * The child behaved nice.
(12) * Him was working.
(13) * Mine grammar booklet is complete.
(14) * I like his but I dont like her.




Five hundred years ago, Europeans arrived on a new continent. They brought
new cultures and languages to this place which they called America. However,
there were already people living there who had their own cultures and
languages. Consequently, a terrible part of history began.
As more Europeans arrived, there was a fight for the land with the Native
American Indians. By the end of the nineteenth century, the Indian tribes were
moved to reservations. A lot of their children were taken away to boarding
schools and these children were taught to speak English. By the end of the
twentieth century, more than half of the Native Americans in the US were living
in cities. They gave up speaking their old tribal language and only used English.
As a result, many Native American languages disappeared and with them their
Some American Indian languages are still used today but they are usually
spoken by the older members of the tribes who still live on the reservations. In
North America there are 150-170 languages that have under a hundred
Some of these people are keeping their culture and language alive. They are also
receiving help from the National Geographic Societys Enduring Voices Project.
The aim of the project is to help languages around the world which are dying
out. Linguists and experts meet these last speakers. The team interviews them
and they are recorded with video, pictures and audio. They also tell old stories.
These stories are written down in English so people can learn more about the
Recording the language and culture is only part of the project. The next
stage is to pass on the language to the next generation. Some children pick up
some of the language from their parents or grandparents but many tribes also
offer courses in the language. The Salish tribe is an excellent example of how
schools can help. The tribe lives in the Flathead Reservation in Montana. Their
language is currently spoken by about 50 people. They are aged over 75 years.
No one under 50 speaks the language. So now, the local people have set up a
school. It has 30 students aged two to twelve during the day and there are also
courses for adults in the evening. It is school and projects like these which
hopefully might save languages for the future.

[Adapted from Hudges, J. et al (2013) Life Pre-Intermediate. National Geographic Learning.

Cengage Learning. p. 111]


(a) Read the text and do the following activities.

1. Classify the words in italics. Provide a complete description. (4 words)

2. Classify the verbs in bold type. Provide a complete description of each type of
verb, specifying the type and number of participants. (4 verbs)
3. Describe the underlined sentences in detail. (2 sentences)

(b) Explain the following statement. Provide examples and be clear

in your answer.

- Some intransitive verbs select a complement.

(c) Explain why the following sentences are ungrammatical. Provide


1. *Silvia kicked.
2. *It exists the traditional custom of arranged marriages in many countries.



Aarts, B. (2001) English Syntax and Argumentation. New York: Palgrave.

Newson, M. et al. (2006) Basic English Syntax with Exercises. Budapest:

Blcssz Konzorcium HEFOP Iroda.

Quirk, R. et al (1988) A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language.

London: Longman.