Classification of verb-phrases.

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Classification of verb-phrases.

The VP is a definite kind of the subordinate phrase with the verb as the head. The verb is considered to be the semantic and structural centre not only of the VP but of the whole sentence as the verb plays an important role in making up primary predication that serves the basis for the sentence. VPs are more complex than NPs as there are a lot of ways in which verbs may be combined in actual usage. Valent properties of different verbs and their semantics make it possible to divide all the verbs into several groups depending on the nature of their complements (see the table ‘Syntagmatic properties of verbs’, Lecture 6).

Classification of verb-phrases.

VPs can be classified according to the nature of their complements – verb complements may be nominal (to see a house) and adverbial (to behave well). Consequently, we distinguish nominal, adverbial and mixed complementation.

Nominal complementation takes place when one or more nominal complements (nouns or pronouns) are obligatory for the realization of potential valency of the verb: to give smth. to smb., to phone smb., to hear smth.(smb.), etc.

Adverbial complementation occurs when the verb takes one or more adverbial elements obligatory for the realization of its potential valency: He behaved well, I live …in Kyiv (here).

Mixed complementation – both nominal and adverbial elements are obligatory: He put his hat on he table (nominal-adverbial).

According to the structure VPs may be basic or simple (to take a book) – all elements are obligatory; expanded (to read and translate the text, to read books and newspapers) andextended (to read an English book).


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Systemic relations in language.

A linguistic unit can enter into relations of two different kinds. It enters into paradigmatic relationswith all the units that can also occur in the same environment. PR are relations based on the principles of similarity. They exist between the units that can substitute one another. For instance, in the word-group A PINT OF MILK the word PINT is in paradigmatic relations with the words bottle, cup, etc. The article A can enter into PR with the units the, this, one, same, etc. According to different principles of similarity PR can be of three types: semantic, formal and functional.

1.Semantic PR are based on the similarity of meaning: a book to read = a book for reading. Heused to practice English every day – He would practice English every day.

2.Formal PR are based on the similarity of forms. Such relations exist between the members of aparadigm: man – men; play – played – will play – is playing.

3.Functional PR are based on the similarity of function. They are established between the elements that can occur in the same position. For instance, noun determiners: a, the, this, his, Ann’s, some, each, etc.

PR are associated with the sphere of ‘language’.

A linguistic unit enters into syntagmatic relations with other units of the same level it occurs with. SR exist at every language level. E.g. in the word-group A PINT OF MILK the word PINT contrasts SR with A, OF, MILK; within the word PINT – P, I, N and T are in syntagmatic relations. SR are linear relations, that is why they are manifested in speech. They can be of three different types: coordinate, subordinate and predicative.

1.Coordinate SR exist between the homogeneous linguistic units that are equal in rank, that is, they are the relations of independence: you and me; They were tired but happy.

2.Subordinate SR are the relations of dependence when one linguistic unit depends on the other: teach + er – morphological level; a smart student – word-group level; predicative and subordinate clauses – sentence level.

3.Predicative SR are the relations of interdependence: primary and secondary predication.

As mentioned above, SR may be observed in utterances, which is impossible when we deal with PR. Therefore, PR are identified with ‘language’ while SR are identified with ‘speech’.


The inner character of the process denoted by the verb.

Notional verbs undergo the three main grammatically rele­vant categorizations. The first is based on the relation of the subject of the verb to the process denoted by the verb. The second is based on the aspective characteristics of the process denoted by the verb, i.e. on the inner properties of the process as reflected in the verbal meaning. The third is based on the combining power of the verb in relation to other notional words in the utterance.


The grammatical relevance of the classification in question, apart from its reflecting the syntactically generalised relation of the subject of the verb to the process denoted by it, is disclosed in the difference between the two subclasses in their aspectual behaviour. While the actional verbs take the form of the continuous aspect quite freely, i.e. according to the general rules of its use, the statal verbs, in the same contextual conditions, are mainly used in the indefinite form. -The continuous with the statal verbs, which can be characterised as a more or less occasional occurrence, will normally express some sort of intensity or emphasis (see further).

The verbs of the first order, presenting a process as potentially limited, can be called "limitive". In the published courses of English grammar where they are mentioned, these verbs are called "terminative",* but the latter term seems inadequate. As a matter of fact, the word suggests the idea of a completed action, i.e. of a limit attained, not only the implication of a potential limit existing as such. To the subclass of limitive belong such verbs as arrive, come, leave, find, start, stop, conclude, aim, drop, catch, etc. Here also belong phrasal verbs with limitive postpositions, e.g. stand up, sit down, get out, be off, etc.

The verbs of the second order presenting a process as not limited by any border point, should be called, correspondingly, "unlimitive" (in the existing grammar books they are called either "non-terminative", or else "durative", or "cursive"). To this subclass belong such verbs as move, continue, live, sleep, work, behave, hope, stand, etc.

The obligatory adjuncts of the verb, with the exception of the subject (whose connection with the verb cannot be likened to the other valency partners), may be called its "complements"; the optional adjuncts of the verb, its "supplements". The distinction between the two valence types of adjuncts is highly essential, since not all the objects or predicatives are obligatory, while, conversely, not all the adverbial modifiers are optional. Thus, we may have both objective complements and objective supplements; both predicative complements and predicative supplements; both adverbial supplements and adverbial complements.

Namely, the object of addressee, i. e. a person or thing for whom or which the action is performed, may sometimes be optional, as in the following example: We did it for you.

The predicative to a notional link-verb is mostly optional, as in the example: The night came dark and stormy.

The adverbials of place, time, and manner (quality) may sometimes be obligatory, as in the examples below:

Thus, according as they have or have not the power to take complements, the notional verbs should be classed as "complementive" or "uncomplementive", with further subcategorizations on the semantic-syntagmatic principles.

In connection with this upper division, the notions of verbal transitivity and objectivity should be considered.

• Semi notional

Semi-notional and functional verbs serve as markers of predication in the proper sense, since they show the connection between the nominative content of the sentence and reality in a strictly specialised way. These "predicators" include auxiliary verbs, modal verbs, semi-notional verb, introducer verbs, and link-verbs.


Predicative word-groups.

Predicative word combinations are distinguished on the basis of secondary predication. Like sentences, predicative word-groups are binary in their structure but actually differ essentially in their organization. The sentence is an independent communicative unit based on primary predication while the predicative word-group is a dependent syntactic unit that makes up a part of the sentence. The predicative word-group consists of a nominal element (noun, pronoun) and a non-finite form of the verb: N + Vnon-fin. There are Gerundial, Infinitive and Participial word-groups (complexes) in the English language: his reading, for me to know, the boy running, etc.)


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