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Modality and modal verbs

Syntactic properties of modal verbs

Modals add to the lexical verb a special semantic component such as ability, obligation,
permission, possibility. From a syntactic point of view, modal verbs have certain properties that
make them similar to auxiliary verbs. These properties are known in the literature as NICE
properties. NICE is an acronym (negation, interrogation, coordination, emphasis).
1. The negator NOT is attached to the modal verb to form a negative sentence.
2. Modal verbs are inverted with the subject in yes or no, wh-, and tag-questions just like
auxiliary verbs.
3. The modal verb can be used in coordinate clauses beginning with AND SO followed by
inversion to avoid repetition.
4. Modal verbs can be used for emphatic purposes in affirmative sentences.
Both auxiliaries and modals appear in the same type of constructions and have the so
called NICE properties.
Modal verbs cannot appear in certain constructions. They are incompatible with non-
finite forms (present/past participle, infinitive). Modal verbs are incompatible with agreement;
they are always followed by a short infinitive. They have no passive form and no imperative.
Modal verbs cannot co-occur with the exception of certain dialects in southern USA, where two
modals in the same sentence are acceptable. Some modals have two tense forms (present and
past: can-could, may-might).
Modal verbs are a distinct class of verbs that share syntactic properties with auxiliary
verbs (NICE properties) and which have a certain semantic value like the lexical verbs.
Semantic properties
We distinguish 2 main kinds of meanings for modal auxiliaries:
a. INTRINSIC: permission, obligation, volition
b. EXTRINSIC: possibility, necessity, prediction
CAN/COULD: possibility, ability, permission
MAY/MIGHT: possibility, permission
MUST: necessity, obligation
NEED, HAVE TO: necessity, obligation
OUGHT TO, SHOULD: tentative inference, obligation
WILL/WOULD: prediction, volition
SHALL: prediction, volition

4. Types of predication

Copulative predication
A copulative predicate consists of a linking verb and a predicative which may be
adjectival or nominal. The adjectival predicative may be realized by an AP. The nominal
predicative may be expressed by a NP, PP or a clause.
The role of the link verb BE as part of the copulative predicate:
a. it connects the subject NP to the NP/AP functioning as predicative
b. it enters into a relationship of agreement in person and number with the subject of the
c. it provides information concerning tense and aspect.
There are 2 classes of link verbs:
a. semantically empty link verbs: BE
b. semantically poor verbs: BECOME, APPEAR, GROW, REMAIN, GO, STAND, FALL,
Some of these semantically poor verbs can also be used as transitive or intransitive verbs.
The predicative is referentially dependent on the subject of the sentence to which it
gives an attribute or an identity. The main property of the identifying predicative is that it is
reversible that is it can change positions with the subject.
A. The adjectival predicative
Adjectives that are used predicatively may be non-derived or derived. Some predicative
adjectives are derived from transitive verbs by means of suffixation. The DO of the transitive
verb becomes a PO in the copulative predication.
There is a special group of predicative adjectives which indicate state/condition and
which are prefixed by ‘a-’: alike, averse, afraid, akin. These predicative adjectives may take
clausal complement.
The classification of the predicative adjectives according to the type of subject they select
Predicative adjectives may be classified according to the semantic features of the subject
they select:
a. predicative adjectives that select a [+animate] subject [+-human] include: hungry, attentive,
eager, sleepy, tired, playful, alive, wicked
b. predicative adjectives that only combine with a [+human] subject are: sorry, imaginative,
ingenious, kindhearted, polite, sincere
Antonymic pairs: clever/dull, careful/careless, sincere/hypocritical, silent/talkative
c. predicative adjectives that take [+concrete] subject include adjectives denoting colour, shape,
and antonymic pairs of adjectives such as: big/small, long/short, thick/thin, new/old.
d. predicative adjectives that select a [+abstract] subject are: obvious,easy/hard/difficult, simple,
advisable, necessary, natural, likely.
B. The nominal predicative is expressed by a NP, PP or a clause. The nominal predicative
expressed by a NP is always indefinite. The nominal predicative expressed by a PP may be
preceded by the preposition OF or by other prepositions. All prepositions in the English language
can be part of a nominal predicative.

Intransitive predication
Verbs with one argument have been traditionally known as intransitive verbs. Intransitive
verbs obligatorily take a NP in subject position which receives the thematic role of Agent or
Patient. Intransitive verbs are of 2 types: simple and complex.
Semantically simple intransitive verbs express events of all types. From a syntactic
point of view intransitive verbs may optionally take an adverbial modifier.
1. Phrasal intransitive verbs (V+particle) are followed by particles with various meanings.
Certain particles of phrasal verbs show direction (go up, fly past, fall down). Most of these verbs
indicate motion. Certain particles refer to the temporal dimension of the event. They may suggest
the beginning of the activity in which case the particles are called ingressive (out, about, off, in).
ON and AWAY indicate the continuation of the activity. They convey a durative meaning. The
particle ON may combine freely with any verb. In contrast the particle AWAY cannot be used
with all verbs. The particles OUT, UP and AWAY express the end of the action (+off, through)
that is why they are also called egressive particles.
2. Reflexive intransitive verbs always take a reflexive pronoun which is co-referential with the
subject of the sentence. There is always a relationship of agreement in person and number
between the subject of the sentence and the reflexive pronoun. Almost all reflexive verbs in
English can be used as transitive or intransitive verbs (without the reflexive pronoun).
Prepositional reflexive verbs: Acquaint oneself with smth; abandon oneself to smth; accustom
oneself to smth, adapt onself to smth, congratulate onself on/upon smth; worry onself about/over
smth; revenge onself on smb.

Complex intransitive verbs are two-place predicates that is they obligatorily take a subject and
a prepositional object or an adverbial modifer to form a correct sentence. Classes:
1. Prepositional intransitive verbs
Intransitive verbs belonging to this group always take a prepositional object expressed by
a prepositional phrase. By passivization the object of the preposition is moved in initial sentence
position, while the preposition gets separated from its object and remains attached to the verb.
When we want to emphasize the prepositional object we move it to pre-subject position.
This rearrangement of the constituents of the sentence is called topicalization.
2. Prepositional phrasal verbs
By passivization the object of the preposition becomes subject of the passive sentence
while the particle and the preposition remain in situ. The prepositional object is emphasized by
means of topicalization. The particle remains in situ.
3. Intransitives with IOs
All these verbs take an IO marked by the preposition TO. From a semantic point of view
these verbs are of several types:
-eventive: happen
-verbs of seeming: see, appear
-verbs of mental processes: occur
-verbs of perception: taste, sound
-relational verbs showing possession: to belong and inferiority relations: surrender, submit
4. Intransitives with two PO
A number of complex intransitive verbs may be followed by 2 PP. the 1st PP may
function as an IO or as PO with the semantic feature [+human]. The 2 nd PP functions as a PO and
it indicates the topic of discussion.
5. Complex intransitives with adverbial modifiers: of place, manner; quantifiying
adverbials of place, time, that indicate price.

Transitive predication
Most transitive verbs in English express human activities/events in which human play the
Agent role. Transitive verbs typically take 2 arguments to form a correct sentence: one in subject
position and the other one in object position. The subject NP can be Theme, Patient or
Experiencer. Transitive verbs are of two types: simple and complex. Simple transitive verbs are
of 2 types: two-place predicates or three-place predicates.
Various classifications of simple transitive verbs
1. according to the meaning of the DO selected
a. Certain simple transitive verbs indicate activities associated with affected object: decorate a
house, break a window, brush a hat, burn paper, carry a box, drink milk.
b. simple transitives with resultative objects include verbs that show that the NP functioning as
DO is the result of the action: cook cakes, manufacture goods, produce, create a model, erect a
monument, make a toy. Some transitive verbs with resultative objects may have a [+abstract]/
[+concrete] DO. A special type of effected object is the so called cognate object which is
actually a repetition of the verbal form: smile, drink, love.
c. a small number of simple transitive verbs take a DO which denotes the instrument used to
perform a certain activity: use force/terrorism/backmail; manipulate peole/power/event; play a
d. another group of simple transitive verbs take [-animate] DOs: approach a place/topic; claim a
object/right, analyze a substance/idea, examine a paper/theory.
2. according to the verbal meaning
From a semantic point of view simple transitive verbs may be grouped into three classes:
a. psychological verbs express emotional states, they take an experiencer argument either in
subject position (like, adore, admire, dislike, hate, despise, appreciate, respect) or in object
position (amaze, astonish, surprise, upset, scare, embarrass, bore). Object experiencer verbs may
take a subject which is [+human] or [+abstract].
b. relational verbs express symmetric or asymmetric relations between the subject and the
object of the sentence. Symmetric relations are expressed by reciprocal verbs: resemble, meet.
The asymmetric relations are those expressing inclusion, possession or acquisition. Inclusion
relations are expressed by transitive verbs such as: contain, hold, comprise, include, cover. Verbs
such as: have, own, possess indicate alienable or inalienable possession. With verbs of
acquisition (get, acquire, receive, appropriate) the subject denotes the Beneficiary and the DO
shows the Patient/Theme of the action.
c. causative verbs are transitive verbs that express direct causation of an event or an event in
which causation is implied. From a syntactic point of view causative constructions are all
transitive owing to the fact that causation implies 2 participants: a causer and an affected/effected
entity. They are of 3 types:
1. periphrastic verbs include: cause, determine, make, have, get which have a very
general causative meaning. Semantically these verbs express the idea of causation quite
neutrally. They are often associated with [+abstract] nouns. The verbs HAVE and GET
additionally convey the idea of obligation/order.
2. lexical verbs are transitive verbs which can be paraphrased by means of the verb TO
CAUSE: to teach = to cause smb to learn, to convince= to cause smb to believe, to give= to
cause smb to take smth
3. morphological verbs are derived either from adjectives or from nouns. Many
causative transitives are converted from adjectives. The word formation processes are:
A. conversion: Adjectives→Causative verb: bare, better, blind, clean, empty
B. affixation produces causative verbs by attaching prefixes/suffixes or both of them to
Prefixation: dis+able/content/quiet; en+large/rich/tame
Suffixation: happy/solid+ify; American/civil/functional/commercial/legal/popular+ize;
Similar causative transitive verbs can be produced from nouns by means of the same
word formation processes.
A. conversion: noun→verb: age, plant, decay, cream, ornament
B. prefixation: de + colour/forest/form; dis + cart/cover/ credit/favour/ honour/illusion/
interest/order/place; en+cage/circle/code/slave/title
Suffixation: person/beauty+ify; carbon/computer/robot/standard+ize.
Sometimes both prefixation and suffixation are used to produce causative verbs:
deactivate, decentralize, demobilize, demolize, enlighten, disorientated, invalidate.

Auxiliary verbs
Indicate aspect and voice. The auxiliary HAVE followed by the past participle of the
lexical verb shoes perfect aspect. The auxiliary BE occurs with the present participle of the
lexical verbs to mark the progressive aspect and with the past participle to show passive voice.
The auxiliary DO is a verb which helps or supports certain syntactic processes of the
lexical verb where there is no already available auxiliary (the the lexical verb is in the present or
past simple). The auxiliary DO is required to form interrogative and negative sentences when the
verb is in the present or past simple. Because inversion oo the lexical verb with the subject is not
possible the auxiliary DO is inserted in the sentence to form yes or no, wh-, and tag-questions.
Because the lexical verb cannot be followed by NOT we insert the auxiliary DO to form negative
sentences. The auxiliary DO is used not only in interrogation and negation but also in ellipsis and
The auxiliary DO is used to avoid repetition in short answers to yes or no questions, in
coordinate clauses affirmative or negative and in comparative clauses introduced by than.
The auxiliary DO is used as a means of emphasizing in the following contexts:
a. DO is inserted in a positive affirmative statement which appears in contrast with a negative
b. DO co-occurs with the negative adverb NEVER to indicate emphasis.
c. DO appears in the main clause when this clause stands in contrast with a clause of concession.
d. DO co-occurs with emphatic adverbs such as: certainly, definitely, positively
e. DO is also used in emphatic imperatives especially in BrE.

5. Passivization. Existential constructions.


The passive voice is a complex linguistic phenomenon that manifests itself at

morphological, syntactic, and semantic level. At the morphological level the specialized passive
voice markers are attached to the lexical verb. The auxiliary BE/GET and the affix –EN for the
main verb to indicate the past participle form. At the syntactic level the active subject and the
object change their position and status. The active object is moved to sentence initial position
where it becomes a passive subject while the active subject is converted into a PO that is placed
after the verb. Under certain circumstances these POs may be deleted. At the semantic level there
is a change in the relation between the two thematic roles. The AGENT is no longer the “hero”
of the sentence. The PATIENT becomes the protagonist of the passive sentence.
Classes of verbs that allow passivization
All types of transitive verbs and a few intransitive verbs allow a passive version of their
active voice sentences.
1. Passivizable transitive verbs
Both simple and complex transitive verbs allow the active DO to be promoted to the
passive subject position.
They decorated the house. The house was decorated. (simple transitive verb)
They accused him of cheating. He was accused of cheating. (complex transitive verb)
They threw the papers into the basket. The papers were thrown into the basket. (complex)
They shot him dead. He was shot dead. (complex transitive with predicative)
Ditransitive verbs are also included in the group of complex transitives. Most
ditransitives may appear in two alternative constructions. The double object construction allows
a passive configuration with the former IO functioning as passive subject. The oblique object
construction allows a passive configuration with the former DO in subject position. Only the
objects that are adjacent to the verb can become subject in the passive voice.
There are some idiomatic phrases, which also allow two passive voice versions.
I have taken careful notice of your remarks.
Careful notice has been taken of your remarks.
Your remarks have been taken careful notice of.
Similar idiomatic phrases are: to take advantage of something, to make an example of
somebody, to make too much of something, to take strong exception to something.
2. Passivizable intransitive verbs
Prepositional intransitive verbs allow the object of the preposition to become subject in
the passive voice. The preposition remains after the verb in its initial position that is in situ.
He ran through the main points briefly. (prepositional intransitive verb)
The main points were briefly ran through.
They put up with these interruption cheerfully. (prepositional phrasal verb)
These interruptions were cheerfully put up with.
Classes of verbs the resist passivization
Most transitive verbs can be passivized. However there are a few transitive verbs that
cannot be passivized because of their semantico-syntactic properties.
1. Reciprocal verbs like: to resemble, to marry, to divorce, and to meet express symmetric
relations. They cannot be passivized but they allow their subject and DO to change
position in the active voice.
Jane resembles Helen. Helen resembles Jane.
* Helen is resembled by Jane.
2. Relational verbs that express possession also resist passivization. Examples: to have, to
possess, to own.
Mary has a car. *A car is had by Mary.
With these verbs the subject always has the thematic role of BENEFICIARY. In a
relationship of possession the human participant is more important that is why it must always
appear in subject position. As a result these verbs can only be used in active voice.
3. Verbs, which denote a mental process or perception, may undergo passivization when
the DO is a whole clause.
She knew the poem. * The poem was known by/to her.
Everyone knew that Bill was clever. That Bill was clever was known by everybody.
The AGENT by-phrase
Can be omitted in the following circumstances:
John was killed in war. (the identity of the agent is unknown to the speaker)
Dogs are sometimes ill treated. (the agent is indefinite)
Has the doctor been sent for? (not relevant to the topic)
Eventually the thieves were caught and severely punished (the agent is well known)
A confidential plan has been recently entrusted to me. (the speaker does not wish to name the
Agentless passives are also frequently used in scientific texts and in fictional ones for
rhetorical and stylistical purposes. The effect obtained by using an agentless passive is that of an
objective detached point of view.

Existential constructions

Sentences containing the expletive pronoun THERE as anticipatory subject are known as
existential constructions. Such constructions are produced by moving the logical subject after the
verb TO BE and by inserting in initial position the expletive pronoun THERE. The resulting
construction contains two subjects: a grammatical one and a real/logical one.
The main characteristic of the logical subject in existential constructions is that it should
be indefinite (preceded by indefinite determiners).
The most frequently used verb in existential constructions is the verb TO BE.
Additionally a number of intransitive verbs can also appear in such configurations.
Intransitive verbs used in existential constructions are of several types:
a. existential verbs: to be, to happen, to occur, to exist, and to live
b. aspectual verbs: to seem and to appear
c. ingressive verbs (the beginning of an action): to emerge, to burst and to arise
d. motion verbs: to come, to arrive and to run
e. positional verbs: to stand, to lie and to hang.

There are two types of constructions that cannot be turned into existential constructions:
the copulative predication and the transitive predication.

The properties of the real subject in existential constructions

The logical subject must be indefinite. Indefiniteness is indicated by the presence of
indefinite determiners (a, an, some, any) or the zero article.
The subject is considered indefinite when the determiner incorporates negation,
numerically specified, or it is an indefinite quantifier (much, many, few, all), and finally when
the subject is expressed by an indefinite pronoun (something, everything, nothing, anything)
followed by an adjectival phrase.
However there are certain circumstances when the logical subject is definite (that is when
the logical subject is preceded by the definite determiner THE):
a. when it is modified by the words SAME and OTHER
b. when it is expressed by a complex NP containing besides the head a TCC or a gerundial
c. The logical subject is modified by an adjectival phrase in the superlative degree.
d. NPs in coordination are also definite when they appear in an answer to an existential question.

The properties of the grammatical subject THERE

Although the expletive pronoun THERE functioning as a grammatical subject has no
meaning, it behaves like an ordinary meaningful subject.
Just like ordinary subjects, THERE undergoes inversion with the verb in all types of
Just like ordinary subjects THERE occurs in relative clauses and non-finite clauses of
two types: infinitival and participial.
The pronoun THERE can be moved from the TCC into the subject position in the main
clause when the main clause contains the verb SEEM.
Just like ordinary subjects THERE appears in coordinate clauses introduced by AND SO.
THERE just like ordinary subjects is inverted with the auxiliary in negative emphatic
The pronoun THERE has most of the properties of ordinary subjects except one. There is
no agreement relationship between the grammatical subject THERE and the verb. Agreement in
number exists only between the verb and the logical subject.

6. Interrogative sentences

The classification of questions is based on the type of answer which is expected.

The yes or no questions are derived from simple declarative sentences by moving the
inflection into the head position of the complementizer phrase.
To derive a wh-question we replace the question constituent with a suitable word which
is then moved into the specifier position of the complementizer phrase.

A negative yes or no question has in initial position the auxiliary and the negator in a
contracted form. In very formal BrE some speakers allow the uncontracted form to appear in
such questions: Has not the prime minister attended the press conference? Such a question is
more likely to be rhetorical rather than information seeking.
*Has J not attended the course?
If the auxiliary and the negator do not appear in a contracted form, then the auxiliary
moves to the initial position in the question without the negator and the result is an
ungrammatical question.

Tag-questions consist of a declarative clause followed by a tagged-on yes or no question.

The tag contains a repetition of the auxiliary verb from the declarative clause and a pronoun
referring to the subject of the declarative. If the declarative clause has no auxiliary then the
emergency operator DO is inserted in the tag. If the declarative clause is affirmative then the tag
is normally negative and the other way round.
Following the analogy of positive and negative poles in electricity the clauses and their
tags are sometimes said to have affirmative/negative polarity. If the declarative clause has
negative polarity then the tag must have affirmative polarity and vice versa.
If this restriction is not observed the sentence is likely to be interpreted not as a question
but as a reflective statement to oneself or perhaps a sarcastic/threatening remark.
However, native speakers often use tags with a simpler structure: She left yesterday,

An echo-question is used as a reaction to a declarative sentence by a speaker who wishes

the interlocutor to repeat part of the declarative sentence. Echo questions are formed by simply
substituting a wh-word for a constituent. The speaker may question a part of the sentence, a verb
or even a whole sentence.
Wh-questions are also called constituent questions because the wh-element questions
one constituent which can be an argument (subject or objects of any kind) or an adjunct
(adverbial modifiers of any kind).
Wh-words belong to several categories:
A interrogative pronouns: what, which, who
B interrogative adverbs: when, where, why, how
C quantifier/quantifying phrases: how much/many

1. Questioning the subject

In a question addressed to the subject there is no movement of the auxiliary or of the wh-
word. The subject is simply replaced by a wh-word which remains in situ.
2. Questioning the DO
The DO may be questioned in sentences containing simple/complex transitive verbs.
3. Questioning the PO
The PO is questioned in sentences that contain the following types of predicates.
A. prepositional transitive verbs: to accuse smb of smth, to blame smb of smth
B. prepositional intransitives: to apply for, to insist on, to rely on
C. prepositional adjectives: afraid of, ashamed of, interested in
D. idiomatic constructions: to take advantage of smth, to get to the bottom of smth
When the PO is questioned English provides a choice between two constructions. In more
formal style the preposition moves with the wh-word to the beginning of the question in the so
called pied-piping construction. In informal English only the wh-word moves, leaving the
preposition behind, stranded in the so called preposition stranding construction.
The label pied piping was inspired by a medieval legend. The general idea behind this
metaphor is that prepositions can’t follow wh-words to the front of the question in much the
same way that rats followed Pied Piper out of Hamlin.
These two types of questions are possible when the preposition is part of a PO. If the
preposition is part of an adverbial modifier then we cannot derive these two types of questions.
If a sentence contains an idiomatic construction with an obligatory preposition then we
can question only the object and the result is a preposition stranding construction. Pied-piping is
not acceptable with idioms.
4. Questioning the IO
When a sentence contains a ditransitive verb the IO can be questioned only in OOC
(because it has a preposition) and in this case two questions are possible.
There are certain ditransitive verbs which cannot be used in both these constructions.
Verbs like donate can only be used in the OOC in which we can ask questions to the IO.
Ditransitive verbs like spare can only be used in the DOC in which the IO cannot be questioned.
Multiple wh-questions contain more than one questioned constituent. When a sentence
contains several wh-words these remain in situ. In subordinate clauses with 2/3 wh-words only
one of them can move to the beginning of the subordinate clause.

Indirect questions are questions embedded in the structure of another clause. The main
difference in structure between direct and indirect questions is that in indirect questions there is
no inversion between the auxiliary or the modal and the subject of the sentence. However
speakers of certain American dialects allow inversion in indirect questions.
Yes or no indirect questions are introduced by the conjunctions whether/if. However the
use of IF is more restrictive than the use of whether. When the indirect question functions as the
subject for the main clause IF cannot replace WHETHER. Only WHETHER can introduce NF
indirect questions.
The common characteristics of yes or no questions and wh-questions are:
1. the rules of the SQT must be obeyed just like in all other reported speech contexts.
2. there is a change in pronouns from the 1 st/2nd person to the 3rd, and there is also a change in the
adverbs of time.
Alternative yes or no questions
IF can replace WHETHER in indirect alternative questions, the result being less formal.
Sometimes alternative questions may contain a repetition of the first alternative in the negative.
The reduced negative alternative OR NOT can appear either at the end of the sentence or at the
beginning of the indirect question between the conjunction whether and the first alternative. The
reduced negative alternative OR NOT is only allowed in final position when the indirect question
is introduced by the conjunction IF.

Long wh-movement
Complex sentences with multiple subordination can be turned into wh-questions, cleft
constructions or relative clauses by using long wh-movement.
The distinction between short wh-movement and long wh-movement is that wh-
movement is short when the wh-word remains inside the boundaries of the same clause. When
the wh-word crosses several clause boundaries to get to initial position in the main clause then
we speak about long wh-movement. The moved wh-word leaves behind a co-indexed trace
which indicates the basic position of the displaced constituent (wh-word).
Cleft sentence structures are used to focus attention on certain constituents. If we want to
emphasize a constituent we place it after the copulative verb BE while the rest of the basic
sentence is attached as a RC to the emphasized constituent. The relative pronoun WHO moves to
the front position of the RC crossing several clause boundaries.
When the RC is successively subordinated to other TCCs, the relative pronoun WHO
moves from its basic position to the front position in the RC again by means of long wh-
movement.(leaves a co-indexed trace)

7. Complementation

That complement clauses are introduced by the complementizer THAT. TCCs have a number
of syntactic properties that indicate that these clauses are similar to NPs:
1. just like NPs, TCCs may have the syntactic functions of subject, DO, PO, predicative or
2. TCCs pronominalize like NPs that is just like NPs, TCCs can be replaced by the pronoun IT or
by the demonstrative THAT.
3. sentences with the structure: Grammatical subject + BE +emphasized constituent + RC (cleft
sentences) are often used for the purpose of emphasizing a constituent.
The NP can be emphasized in a pseudo-cleft sentence (RC + BE + emphasized
constituent). TCCs may appear after the copulative BE in pseudo-cleft constructions just like
4. TCCs may appear in constructions with the word THAN which is typically flanked by
constituents of the same type.
5. Extraposition is a syntactic process by means of which a TCC is moved to the end of the
sentence leaving an empty position which is occupied by the expletive pronoun IT. Extraposition
is of 3 types depending on the position from where the TCC is moved: from subject position,
from DO position, from PO position. As a result of this movement of the TCC the sentence has 2
subjects/DOs/POs one of them formal (IT) and the other one logical.
Heavy NP shift involves movement of a very ‘heavy’(long) or complex NP to the end of the
sentence (without inserting the pronoun IT). The TCC can be moved over an adverbial phrase or
over a PP (this PP can be either IO or PO).

Syntactic functions of TCCs

1. TCC=DO for simple transitive verbs in the main clause. E.g.: assume, believe, consider,
know, realize, understand. (These verbs actually allow the deletion of THAT)
TCC functioning as DO can take part in passivization and can be extraposed.
TCC can function as DO for ditransitive verbs(explain, confess, declare, describe)
TCC ca function as DO with prepositional intransitive verbs: blame smth on smb.

2. TCC= Subject with several types of predicates

a) intransitive verbs: seem, appear, happen. These verbs obligatorily extrapose the TCC from
Subject position
b) a number of adjectives which function as predicatives in the main clause also take sentential
subject. All these adjectives express the speakers comment or point of view concerning some
activity expressed by the TCC. They are also called evaluative adjectives: odd, fortunate,
essential, good, bad, important, incredible.
c) certain adjectives always take sentential subjects: un/likely, un/certain, im/possible.
d) A TCC may function as Subject for nominal predicatives in the main clause expressed by
[+abstract] nouns.(wonder, problem, thing, fact, idea, surprise, miracle, mystery)
e) TCCs also occur with bisentential verbs: prove, show, imply

3. TCC=predicative when the main clause contains a [+abstract] subject followed by the
copulative verb BE

4. TCC=attribute for [+abstract] nouns in the main clause. The attributive TCCs may be
separated from the abstract noun in highly emphatic statements. These are rare constructions. As
a result of the separation the abstract noun moves to the beginning being interpreted as an
emphasized constituent and the lexical verb is inverted with the subject.

5. TCC = PO with several types of predicates:

a) prepositional intransitive verbs such as: ask for, admit of, testify to, worry about, vote for,
answer for. The preposition must be omitted; it can only be preserved in extraposition and in
cleft sentences.
b) prepositional transitive verbs: accuse of, inform of, convince of.
c) intransitives with 2 POs: agree with smb about smth, argue with smb about smth, pray smb for
smth. The preposition reapers in extraposition and pseudo-cleft constructions.
d) prepositional adjectives: afraid of, ashamed of, annoyed at, angry about, confident in.

The complementizer THAT

THAT is a purely syntactic word showing embedding. It has virtually no meaning, being
occasionally deleted. Omission of THAT is typical of informal speech. Deletion is more
acceptable when the main clause contains a verb, an adjective or a noun frequently used in daily
conversation (know). Deletion of THAT does not occur when the TCC is separated from the
main clause by some intervening material. The complementizer cannot be omitted when the TCC
is a non-extraposed subject.
Topicalization = syntactic process by means of which a constituent is moved to initial position
for the sake of emphasis.
Deletion of THAT is blocked when the TCC is a topicalized object.

The sequence of tenses

The use of tenses in complement clauses is normally explained in terms of the rules of
SQT. The SQT is considered to be a set of formal rules which automatically ‘backshifts’ tenses
after a past introductory verb. The TCC represents its situation as temporally related to the
situation of its matrix and therefore uses a relative clause.
The choice of the tense in the TCC: past, perfect or future-in-the-past suggests an action
which is simultaneous, anterior or posterior respectively in relation to that expressed by the verb
in the main clause.
When the introductory verb is a present tense, a different array of tenses are used to
express the same temporal relationships (past or present perfect for an anterior action, present for
a simultaneous action and future for a posterior one).
However the SQT cannot account for the grammaticality of the following sentences in
which the complement clause does not use the expected tense.
B said that J will arrive tomorrow.
He has always admitted that he had made a mistake.
Such exceptions to the traditional SQT rules are accounted for in terms of switching from
one time-sphere to the other. Consider the following example containing a subordinate clause of
cause: I am sad because my dog died.
The matrix clause refers to the present time-sphere and the subordinate to a past domain.
The same can be argued for TCCs: B said that J will arrive tomorrow.
Sometimes the reason why the speaker does not incorporate the TCC into the current past
domain is that he wants to represent the situation as somehow still relevant at the time of
utterance. In order to do so he relates the situation directly to the times of utterance, he locates it
in the present time-sphere rather than in the past one.
B told me yesterday that he has a house in NY.
Reported Speech is characterized by a series of formal features which distinguish it from direct
speech. They have the effect of shifting all deictic elements away from direct reference to speech
situation. The shifts involved are as follows:
1. the reporter is generally someone other than the original speaker. The receiver of the report is
likely to be different from the person who received the original message.
2. reports are often given in a different place from where the original words were spoken, and at
a later time. It is therefore necessary to change adverbs of time and place, so that words like
today, tomorrow, here, mean the same at the time and place of the report as in the original
3. reported statements are introduced by a reporting verb. The most frequently used reporting
verb, say, is immediately followed by a TCC, although that is frequently omitted. The verb tell
must be followed by a NP denoting the person spoken to. Some verbs used in indirect speech
cannot be used in reported speech, and have to be expressed with say and an appropriate adverb
of manner indicating the way in which something was said: brutally, callously, patiently,
4. depending on whether the reporting verb in the matrix is in the present or in the past, then the
sequencing of actions or situations has to be done by means of appropriate tense forms in the
complement clause.

8. NF clauses. RC.

Infinitive Complement Clauses

ICCs represent a complex type of non finite clauses. The characteristic marker of the ICC
is the particle TO which converts a finite clause into a non finite one. ICCs have both verbal and
nominal properties. Verbal properties: the infinitive has aspect distinctions; the infinitive is also
marked for voice.
The position of adverbs in ICCs. Depending on the position of the adverb, the infinitive is
of 2 types: split or non-split. In the non-split infinitive the adverb is at the end of the construction
while in the split infinitive the adverb is inserted between the auxiliary and the lexical verb or the
particle and the verb when there is no auxiliary. The following adverbs are allowed to split an
infinitive: ever, always, just, utterly, slowly, clearly.
The subject of the ICC can be preserved or deleted. The subject of the TCC can be
preserved in the ICC with a change in case. The subject is no longer in the nominative, it is in the
accusative case and it is preceded by the preposition FOR. Such infinitive constructions with a
preserved subject are called FOR TO infinitives.
The subject of the ICC can be omitted when it is identical with a constituent of the main
clause or when it is co-referential with a NP from the main clause. This invisible /absent subject
of the infinitive is conventionally represented in syntax by PRO.
Contexts in which the deletion of the subject of the ICC is possible
1. when it is co-referential with the S of the main clause.
2. when it is identical with the DO in the main clause.
3. when it is co-referent with the IO in the main clause.
4. when it refers to the same person as the possessive attribute of the subject in the main clause.
The NP from the main clause which is identical in meaning with the subject of the infinitive is
called controller. The controller may have different syntactic functions in the main clause (S,
DO, IO, Attribute).
The syntactic functions of the ICC (nominal character)
1. ICC=subject for the copulative predication in the main clause. In the copulative predication
the predicative can be an adjective (possible, likely, necessary, right, wrong, safe) or a noun
(custom, advantage, pleasure). Sometimes the copulative predication in the main clause may
include an indirect object preceded by the preposition FOR, TO, OF.
Sentences with extraposed ICC functioning as logical subject serve as bases for the
exclamative sentences.
TOUGH movement
When the ICC functions as subject for the copulative predication in the main clause, then
the constituents of the sentence can be rearranged. The objects (DO, IO, PO) from the ICC can
be moved to subject position in the main clause (BE must agree in number with the new subject).
This type of syntactic process is called TOUGH movement. The name of the movement comes
from the first example analyzed by linguists. The first example contained the adjective ‘tough’.
When the subject of the infinitive is present then TOUGH movement cannot be used. Adjectives
that allow TOUGH movement: tough, easy, difficult, impossible, simple, dangerous, interesting.
The ICC functions as a subject with bisentential verbs like: prove, show, imply.

2. ICC=DO with transitive verbs.

Simple transitive verbs with an ICC functioning as DO can be classified from a semantic
point of view into the following groups:
a) aspectual verbs: being, start, continue, stop, cease
b) verbs that express responsibility/control/success of an action: attend, seek, manage, arrange,
c) verbs of dis/liking, intention: desire, expect, like, intend, plan, want, wish, propose
d) verbs that express a mental state (remember, forget, regret) and verbs of linguistic
communication (suggest, claim, ask, conclude)

3. ICC=PO when the main clause contains a verb/adjective with obligatory preposition.
Verbs: apply for, consent to, insist on, bother about, long for, care for, fail in
When the ICC=PO then the preposition must be deleted.
Adjectives: sorry for, careful about, afraid of, anxious about, angry at.

4. ICC=predicative for the copulative verb in the main clause.

5. ICC=attribute for the [+abstract] nouns in the main clause: ability, capacity, wish, idea,
power, right, instinct.

6. ICC=adverbial modifiers

Gerundial clauses
Traditional grammars acknowledge the existence of at least two homonymous ING
forms: the gerund and the present participle. Present participles have verbal and adjectival
features while gerunds have verbal and nominal features. Gerunds are further subdivided into:
verbal gerunds (gerunds proper) and nominal gerunds (verbal noun).
The syntactic analysis of verbal gerunds identifies 3 gerundial constructions: an older one
whose subject is in the genitive case called possessive-ing (full gerund); a construction which
appeared later in the history of English language whose subject is in the accusative case which is
called Accusative-ing (half gerund); the subjectless gerund whose PRO subject is interpreted as
arbitrary called PRO-ing complement.
Nominal gerund
The Ingof is actually a noun derived from a verb by means of the nominalizing suffix
ING. INg turns a verb into a noun just like all the other nominalizing suffixes in English (-tion,
-ment,-ance). The Ingof has all the characteristics of nouns. The structure of the nominal gerund
resembles the structure of nominalizations. The verbal noun is preceded by a determiner,
adjective just like ordinary nouns and it takes the object in a phrase introduced by the preposition
of (of-phrase). Semantically the verbal noun denotes an action/activity that is why it is also
called action nominalization.
Verbal gerund
Verbal gerunds have the structure of clauses (S+V+DO). Gerunds have aspect which is a
typical verbal property. In contrast nominal gerunds do not have aspect.

The subject of the ING complement

The subject of the verbal gerund may be:
-preserved from the TCC when it is not identical with the subject of the main clause.
-deleted when it is co-referential with the subject of the main clause.
-absent when its reference is interpreted as arbitrary.
Subjectless gerunds and subjectless infinitives have a similar behaviour. Both the
subjectless gerund and the subjectless infinitive can have the syntactic functions of DO, S and
Adverbial modifier of purpose. In all these cases the absent subject of the infinitive or the gerund
is controlled by some constituent in the main clause or it is arbitrary. The arbitrary subject is not
controlled by any constituent in the main clause that is why it is considered to be free.
There are instances when the infinitive and the gerundial complement clause can be
interpreted differently. The subject of the infinitive is controlled while the subject of the gerund
is either controlled or free.

Syntactic functions of the gerundial complement clause

1 ING compl = DO
All 3 types of verbal gerunds function as Dos for transitive verbs in the main clause.
2. ING compl = subject when the main clause contains copulative predication
3. ING compl = object of the preposition when the main clause contains an adjective/verb with
obligatory preposition.
4. ING compl = attribute for [+abstract] nouns with obligatory preposition in the main clause
(condition of, reason for, opportunity of, pleasure of, belief in, idea of).
5. ING compl = predicative for copulative verbs
6. ING compl = adverbial modifiers of manner, time, cause

The participle
The participle has verbal and adjectival properties.
The syntactic functions of the participle
1. predicative
2. attribute coming from a reduced RC are allowed to appear either in pronominal or postnominal
3. the present/past participle can be part of the complex object construction (traditionally known
as the Acc+Present/past pasticiple)[this is the result of SOR].
4. adverbial modifiers of 3 types coming from the reduction of adverbial clauses of time, cause
or manner.
5. participles can be used in parenthetical phrases which express the speakers point of

The distinction between participles and gerunds

Participles may be easily distinguished from gerunds if the following facts are taken into
1. When the participial clause has a subject it is in the nominative case in contrast the subject of
the gerundial clause can only appear in the genitive/accusative case.
2. Participial clauses are precede by conjunctions and gerundial clauses by prepositions.
3. Only the participle can be part of the complex construction based on raising
(Acc/No+present/past participle). In contrast gerunds can never be used in raising constructions.
4. Participles occur as modifiers of nouns or verbs (nominal/verbal modifier)in contrast gerunds
cannot be used as modifiers.

Relative clauses
RC also called adjective clauses are embedded clauses linked to a noun from the main
clause frequently by means of a relative pronoun. The noun described by the RC is analyzed as
an antecedent of the relative pronoun. The relative pronoun and the antecedent have the same
referent. That is they are co-referential and this is indicated by the common index attached to
The antecedent and the RC form a complex NP in which the RC functions as adjunct
(optional constituent).
Types of RCs
RC can be classified on semantic and syntactic criteria.
Semantically RCs are of 2 types:
a) RRCs also known as defining RCs are clauses which delimit or identify the antecedent.
Reference is made only to the things described in the RC.
b) NRRCs also known as appositive RCs add suplimentary information about an already
identified antecedent. The identity of the person is given, the RC only gives additional
information about him.
Syntactically RCs are of 2 types:
a) with an expressed antecedent (dependent RCs). Both RRCs and NRRCs have expressed
antecedents in the main clause.
b) without an expressed antecedent (independent RCs). They are understood as describing an
antecedent expressed by an indefinite pronoun. Because this indefinite pronoun is vague it is
omitted an that is why this RCs have an omitted antecedent.

The syntactic process of relativization

Two short sentences that contain a common noun can be combined to form a complex
sentence with a RC by means of the syntactic process of relativization. Steps to be followed:
1. replace the 2nd identical NP by a suitable relative pronoun.
2. we subordinate the 2nd clause into the structure of the first by means of the complementizer
3. we move the relative pronoun to the front position of the RC
4. we delete either the complementizer that or the relative pronoun or both of them and we obtain
3 grammatical version of the same RC.

The wh-phrase used in the RC has the same syntactic functions as the NP which was replaced
by it. RCs can be introduced by:
a. relative pronouns (who, what, which)
b. possessive determiner ‘whose’ used before nouns
c. the complementizer that
d. adverbs: when, where, why
When the RC contain a prepositional verb then there are 2 versions of the same RC: one
in which the preposition accompanied the relative pronoun to the front position in the RC(pied-
piping) and the other one in which the preposition remain in situ only the relative pronouns
moves to the beginning of the RC (preposition stranding).
Depending on the verbal form RCs are finite and non-finite.
1. Infinitival RCs are obtained by deleting/omitting the relative pronoun and the auxiliary from
a full finite RC.
2. Participial RCs are derived by omitting the relative pronoun and the verb BE as an auxiliary
from a finite RC with the verb in the progressive aspect.
Participial RCs may also correspond to verbs in the present/past simple from the FRC. Participial
RCs may also correspond to verbs in the passive voice from a full FRC. NFRCs containing a past
participle are reductions of FRCs with the verb in the passive voice.

The distinction between RCs and complement clause

1. TCCs depend on an [+abstract] noun in the main clause while RCs depend on a [+concrete]
2. The complementizer THAT can be replaced by the relative pronoun WHICH only in the RC.
3. A RC functions as an adjunct in the structure of the complex NP while TCCs function as
complements inside the complex NP. The result is that RC are optional constituents while TCCs
re obligatory. A second consequence is that the complement clause is closer to the head than the
RC which is further away in the structure of the NP.
When a complement clause and a RC co-occur, the complement clause is place near the
noun while the RC comes further away.

The distinction between RRCs and NRRCs

These 2 types of RCs may have the same structure but they can be distinguished
according to the following 7 criteria.
1. First there is a difference in function between RRCs and NRRCs. While the major function of
RRC is to identify the referents, NRRCs simply add suplimentary information about a reference
whose identity is known.
2. At the phonological level RRCs are linked to their antecedent by unity od intonation and by
continuity of the degree of loudness. In contrast NRRCs are characterized by a diminution of the
degree of loudness and interruption. NRRCs are usually separated from their antecedents by
commas in writing.
3. The 3rd distinction concerns the information structure. If we think about constructions as
information units then a noun + RRC form a single information unit while a noun followed by a
NRRC form 2 distinct information units. Sometimes the additional information unit provided by
the NRRC is added to continua a narrative line. The relative pronoun who could just as well be
replaced by the coordinating conjunction and. This continuative usage of NRRCs occurs more
often in literary works and less often in formal spoken narrative.
4. Only NRRCs can depend on or modify proper names.
5. Only RRCs can be extraposed.
6. RRCs can be introduced either by a relative pronoun or by the complementizer that while
NRRCs can only begin with the relative pronoun.
7. RRCs allow the deletion of the relative pronoun or of the complementizer THAT. RRCs can
appear in a complex sentence without a connecting element that is why they are also called
unconnected RC or contact RC. The relative pronoun cannot be ommited from RRCs when it has
the syntactic function of subject in the RC. Sometimes the NRRC may take the whole preceding
clause as its antecedent. The main clause becomes the antecedent for the relative pronoun.

Free RCs do not have an expressed antecedent in the main clause. They perform all the syntactic
functions of the NPs (S, DO, IO, PO, predicative, attribute). Free RCs are introduced by simple
pronouns/adverbs or by compounds with EVER: indefinite relative pronouns (whichever,
whoever,whatever) and indefinite adverbs (whenever, wherever, however). RCs are also used in
cleft and pseudo-cleft constructions. Cleft constructions rearrange the constituents of a simple
declarative sentence for the purpose of emphasizing one of the constituents and drawing
9. Speech Act Theory

How to do things with words, Austin 1955. Austin argued that some ordinary declarative
sentences, contrary to logical positivist assumptions, are not used with any intention of making
true or false statements. These sentences are used to do things. Austin refers to them and the
utterances realized by than as perfomatives. Performatives, unlike constatatives which can be
assessed in terms of truth and falsity, cannot be true or false. They can be unhappy or
The felicity conditions are:
A. (i) There must be a conventional procedure having a conventional effect.
(ii) The circumstances and persons must be appropriate, as specified in the procedure.
B. The procedure must be executed (i) correctly and (ii) completely.
C. the person must have the requisite thoughts, feelings and intentions as specified in the
procedure, and if consequent conduct is specified then the relevant parties must do so.
Performatives are first person indicative active sentences in the simple present tense.
In terms of structure, Austin isolates three basic senses in which in saying something
one is doing something, and hence three kinds of acts that are simultaneously performed:
(i) the locutionary act, having a locutionary meaning, ca be defined as the utterance of a
sentence with a specific sense and reference.
(ii) the illocutionary, having an illocutionary force is the making of a statement, offer, promise
in uttering a sentence by virtue of the conventional force associated with it, or with its explicit
performative phrase.
(iii) the perlocutionary act, having a perlocutionary effect, is the bringing about of effects on the
audience by means of uttering the sentence.
Searle’s taxonomy – 5 types of illocutionary acts:
Representatives/assertives – represent a state of affairs
Directives – direct the addressee towards doing something
Commisives – speakers commit themselves to some future action
Expressives – state what the speaker feels
Declarations – change the world via their utterance
Indirect speech acts

10. Presupposition

Constancy under negation: In order to identify the presupposition, we simply take a

sentence, negate it and see what inferences survive, what inferences are shared by both the
positive and the negative sentence.
1 John managed to stop in time.
2 John stopped in time. Entailment for 1
3 John tried to stop in time. Presupposition for 1 and 2
4 John didn’t manage to stop in time.
Types of semantic presuppositions
1. The existential presupposition is assumed to be present in possessive constructions and more
generally in any definite NP. By using any of the following expressions the S is assumed to be
committed to the existence of the entities named: the cat >> there is a cat
2. The presupposed information following a verb like know can be treated as a fact and is
referred to as factive presupposition. A number of other verbs such as realize, regret as well as
phrases involving be and aware, odd, and glad have factive presuppositions: she realized he was
ill>> he was ill.
3. In lexical presuppositions, the use of one form with asserting meaning is conventionally
interpreted with the presupposition that another non-asserted meaning is understood. Lexical
items that trigger lexical presuppositions: manage, stop, start, again.
4. In structural presuppositions certain sentence structures have been analyzed as
conventionally and regularly presupposing that part of the structure that is already assumed to be
When did he leave? >> He left.
Is there a boy in the garden? >>Either there is a boy in the garden or there isn’t.

Non-factive presuppositions are associated with verbs like dream, imagine, pretend. This verbs
are used with the presupposition that what follows is not true.
I dreamt that I was rich. >> I was not rich.

Second type if-clauses are associated with counter-factual presuppositions, meaning that what
is presupposed is not only true, but it is the opposite of what is true.
If you were my friend, you would have helped. >> You are not my friend.
Presupposition triggers
a. definite descriptions: john saw the man with two heads. >> There exists a man with two
b. factive verbs: Martha regrets going to john’s party. >> Martha went to john’s party.
c. implicative verbs: john managed to open the door. >> John tried to open the door.
d. change of state verbs: john stopped beating his children. >> John had been beating his
e. iteratives: Clinton returned to power. >> Clinton held power before.
f. temporal clauses: Since C. died we’ve lacked a leader. >> C. died.
g. NRRC: H., who climbed the everest in 1953, was the greatest explorer of our day. >> H.
climbed everest in 1953.

Pragmatic presupposition
Pragmatic presuppositions are related to the context of utterance. Pragmatic presuppositions are
determined by a combination of linguistic item and what we know about the world.
Tell Madonna I’m at lunch. >> Madonna is likely to appear soon. H knows who she is. H will
pass the message on.