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Words and their characteristics Word classes

Internal stability A word class: A group of words, which

insertions made between, not within words from a grammatical point of view behave in
External independence the same way:
phonologically: may be preceded or followed morphologically: they show which class they
by pauses belong to by using same endings e.g. -s, -ing
for verbs, -ly, for adverbs.
orthographically: separation by spaces or
punctuation marks Syntactically: show the class they belong - used
in the same way in a sentence e.g. adjectives:
syntactically: may be used alone as a single
used the and a noun, or after any form of be
semantically: can be assigned meaning(s)

Traditional v. modern grammars

Major word classes
parts of speech/word classes
Noun Verb Classification based on main functions and
Pronoun Noun grammatical behaviour
Adjective Determiner Lexical words
Verb Adjective main carriers of meaning
Adverb Adverb numerous and members of open classes
have complex internal structure
Preposition Preposition
can be heads of phrases - they include:
Conjunction Conjunction nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs
Interjection Inserts

The structure of words

Function words Morphology: the study of the structure of
indicate relationship between lexical words or larger words
are members of closed systems Domains
short and lack internal structure Lexical/derivational morphology: how new
frequent, occur in any text vocabulary items are built out of combination
Inserts of elements e.g. in-describ-able
do not form integral part of a syntactic structure Inflectional morphology: the way words vary in
carry emotional and interactional meanings their form to express grammatical contrast e.g.
frequent in spoken texts horse-s

Closed systems v. open classes Elements in word construction
Closed system: Open classes: Base form: words which cannot be broken
contains a limited membership indefinite down into grammatical parts e.g. yes, boy,
number of members and unlimited
new members not new members easily affixes: meaningful dependent elements
easily added admitted added before or after the base form
e.g. function words - e.g. nouns, verbs, prefixes: pure lexical role; allow construction of
conjunctions, adjectives many new words
suffixes: most purely lexical: change meaning
of base form e.g. -ness, -ship, -able
few are purely grammatical: show how words must
be used in sentences e.g. plural -s, past tense -ed

Inflectional suffixes Adjectives and adverbs

Adjectives: express some Types of adjectives
Noun plural, e.g. -s feature of a noun or pronoun
central: have both
genitive case, e.g. -s identification criteria
attributive and
occurrence before nouns
3rd person singular, -s e.g.a big house- attributive predicative functions
occurrence after forms of e.g. happy
past tense, e.g. -ed the verb be - predicative peripheral: have only
contracted negative -nt immediately preceded by one of these functions
intensifying words e.g. very
e.g. afraid, utter
-ing form or present participle can be compared
common suffixes: -ish,
permit addition of -ly to
-ed form or past participle form adverbs -able, -ful,-al, -ic, -less

-er comparitive; -est superlative

Syntactic functions Semantic classification
attributive: premodify stative v. dynamic
head of NP dynamic adjectives -use
predicative: subject or of subjective
object complement
gradable / nongradable
Postpositive: follow
most are gradable e.g. -
the noun they modify er, -est, very, so
e.g. something useful
inherent v. noninherent
head of NPs e.g the - if they characterize
innocent suffer the referent of a noun
directly or not