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Phrases which are indivisible either syntactically or semantically or both

§ 36. Phrases of this kind contain two or more notional word-forms used together to designate a person or a non-person, an action or a quality. Syntactical relations between their components are not always explicit, and so they are not analysed separately.

Here belong:


1.Groups of words that name one thing or one unit.


Will you allow me another half an hour?

Here is your needle and thread.


2. Groups of words denoting an indefinite number or amount of things.

A lot of unpleasant things have been said.


3. Groups of words denoting arithmetical calculations.

Two plus two is four.

Ten by three equals thirty.

Four from nine leaves five.


4. Groups of words consisting of two or more proper names belonging to one person.

George Gordon Byron was born in 1788.


5. Groups of words which form one geographical name.

New York is the largest city in the United States of America.


6. Groups of words containing a proper name and a noun denoting an occupation, a title, a rank, a relatioship, or naming a species of animal.


How do you do, Doctor Brown?

Mrs. Poppets brought the tray in.

The boy looked up at Colonel Julian.

He always reminds me of my Uncle Podger.

The dog Charlie was full of importance.



However these groups of words allow of another interpretation: the first word may be treated as a non-

detached apposition. See § 92.


7. Groupsof words containing a verb and a noun denoting an action.


She looked at him and gave a sigh.

Please, don’t make trouble.


8. Adverbial groups of words.


He came two minutes ago.

A week later she began to recover.


Phrases of this kind (1-8) function in the sentence in accordance with their nominal, verbal or adverbial nature as one whole. (See the examples above.)

Predicative complexes


§ 37. Predicative complexes differ from phrases in that they have two words with predicative relation between the nominal and the verbal parts of the phrase. These words in their turn may have one or more words dependent on them. Though the predicative relation within a complex is grammatically only implicit, its presence makes it possible to turn any predicative complex into a clause, which cannot be done to a phrase.


I saw him run ——> I saw that he was running.

He still found life interesting ——> He still found that life was interesting.


Predicative complexes are dealt with in full in § 124-132.


§ 38. Clauses, like predicative complexes, contain two words connected predicatively, but unlike predicative complexes the predicative relation in clauses is expressed explicitly in the grammatical forms of the subject and the predicate.


I don’t know what you mean.

She came when nobody was in.

Levels of syntactical analysis

§ 39. Within the sentence we usually distinguish two syntactical levels of analysis, one belonging to the sentence proper, which is called the sentence level, and one belonging to various phrases treated as a whole and functioning in the sentence with the same force as separate words. This level is called the phrase level.

The subject and the predicate belong to the sentence level only. The object, the adverbial modifier, the attribute, and the apposition may belong either to the sentence level or to the phrase level.


He did not tell me anything about it. (Me, anything, about it are objects to the verb-predicate - the

sentence level.)

You are unhappy about something, aren’t you? (About something is an object to the predicative unhappy,

which is part of the predicate - the sentence level.)

He will come tomorrow. (Tomorrow is an adverbial modifier to the verb-predicate - the sentence level.)

You seem very tired. (Very is an adverbial modifier to the adjective tired, which is part of the predicate –

the sentence level.)

Poor Amy could not answer. (Poor is an attribute to the noun, which is the subject - the sentence level.)


In other cases objects, adverbial modifiers, attributes and appositions are included in various phrases within which they are not usually treated separately, the whole phrase functioning as part of the sentence on the sentence level.


He insisted on going by train. (On going by train is an object to the verb-predicate - the sentence level;

within the phrase on going by train we distinguish an adverbial modifier by train referring to the word-

form going - the phrase level.)

When analysing a sentence we deal mainly with the sentence levelonly, unless it is necessary for some reason to state the syntactical relations between the words within a phrase.

The subject

§ 40. Every English sentence but the one-member and the imperative one must have a subject. The subject is one of the two main parts of the, sentence. The most important feature of the subject in English is that in declarative sentences it normally comes immediately before the predicate, whereas in questions its position is immediately after an operator. It means that in English sentences any word or words which occur in these positions are to be treated asthe subject of the sentence.

The subject determines the form of the verbal part of the predicate as regards its number and person.

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