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The Principal Parts of a Simple Sentence




The principal parts of a simple sentence are the subject and the predicate. They are indispensable.

The subject denotes something that is spoken about. It is subdivided into a group subject (expanded), a complex subject (expressed by a predicative construction)( For me to do it is dangerous; His having done that surprised me), a formal subject which introduces the genuine subject ( It is strange his doing that ), an impersonal subject ( It rains), a rrhematic subject( A woman entered the room), a thematic subject( The woman came up to the window).

The predicate denotes an action, state or property of the thing expressed by the subject. It agrees with the subject logically. A single subject denoting multitude agrees with a plural predicate ( The great majority are satisfied with the outcomes of the elections).

Predicates are classified into simple and compound ones.

A simple predicate can be simple verbal, simple nominal, infinitival and reflexive. A simple verbal predicate is expressed by a verb in any form representing any category (person, number, tense, aspect, correlation, voice and mood). A simple nominal predicate is expressed by a noun or an adjective ( He clever?! He a general?!). The nature of the nominal predicate can be interpreted transformationally or by means of the method of deep and surface structures( He is clever. I do not believe. He is a general. I do not believe). An infinitival predicate is usually found in exclamatory-interrogative sentences ( Mr Domby to divorce his wife?! => Mr. Domby divorces his wife. I do not believe). In a reflexive predicate the element self cannot be omitted ( I enjoyed myself in the park). To the simple verbal predicates some scholars refer a phraseological predicate ( He was probably losing his marbles) (going crazy).

Compound predicates are subdivided into compound nominal predicates, compound modal predicates, compound aspect predicates; double predicates andpredicates of double orientation. A compound nominal predicate is built up on the model a link- verb + a predicative. The number of link- verbs is great and it is still growing larger( He is a poet. He turned pale. He was going mad). Predicatives are most frequently expressed by nouns and adjectives. A verbal aspect predicate consists of a verb denoting the beginning, development or the end of an action and a non-finite form of a verv (He came running. He got going. He began reading. He continued speaking). A compound verbal modal predicate consists of a modal verb (or a modal equivalent) and an infinive (indefinite, continuous or perfect (She could have danced all night). Among compound predicates we find mixed types (a compound modal nominal predicate, a compound modalaspectual predicate ( He must be a poet. He may begin to attend classes).

A double predicate consists of two parts, verbal and nominal, the former being an explicit predicate, the latter being an implicit predicate. It can be described transformationally (He married young=>He married. He was young). The predicate of double orientation consists of two parts, the latter oriented upon the subject of this sentence, the former oriented upon a subject beyond the limits of this sentence which can be proved transformationally ( He is said to have done it => They say that he has done it).

The Secondary Parts of a Simple Sentence

The secondary parts of a simple sentence can be indispensable or facultative for the structural and semantic completeness of the sentence. Secondary parts are divided into objects, attributes and adverbial modifiers.



An Object

An object is a secondary part which depends upon the predicate. It is verb -oriented. Logical relations between a predicate- verb and its object are various. An object is indispensable (obligatory) when it is used after verbs of incomplete predication (to be, seem, appear, smell, take). Such verbs are insufficient by themselves, structurally, communicatively and semantically incomplete and need an object or an adverbial modifier (They took the boy to the theatre). By means of the transformational procedure of deletion we can deprive the verb of its object and see whether it is complete or incomplete (They broke the thing gently => *they broke gently, where the sign * means “ungrammatical”). Traditionally objects are classified into direct, indirect, prepositional and cognate (родственный) ( He smiled a winner’s smile. He lived a happy life). In thecognate object the verb and the noun, functioning as the object, are of the same root). We can distinguish a complex object which is expressed by a predicative construction with an infinitive, a participle or a Gerund ( I remember my mother singing a song to me. I saw him cross the street. I heard her singing. I found the house ruined). We can also distiguish a formal object which introduces a genuine object ( I find it strange to go there).

According to their semantic roles objects are divided by professors Burlakova, Ivanova and Pocheptsov into the object of the object ( I read the book), the object of the addressee (He gives it to me), the object of the subject( I was blackmailed by him).

An Adverbial Modifier

It a secondary or a tertiary of the sentence, it is verb- and adverb- oriented. It is not determined by the semantic meaning of the verb. Types of adverbial modifiers are determined by semantic varieties or semantic types of adverbs.We distinguish adverbial modifiers of manner, measure, cause, attendant circumstances, time, exception, direction, place, comparison (real/unreal), concession (real/unreal/problematic). It can be facultative and indispensable( He broke the thing gently. They took the boy to the theatre.) Complex adverbial modifiers are expressed by predicative constructions{ He entered the room, the dogfollowing him (a nominative absolute participial construction). He entered the room, with his dog following him (a prepositional participial construction)

An Attribute

An attribute is a noun- oriented secondary or tertiary part of a sentence. It doesn’t enter the structural scheme of the sentence. Very often it facultative and can be easily omitted (A beautiful girl entered a spacious room). It can be used in pre-position and post-position. Its position is determined by its semantics. Attributes giving more concrete character to a noun are placed nearer to it than those giving general assessment (An attractive small girl). It can be complex, when it is expressed by a predicative construction (This is a book for you to read). An attribute very often merely decorates a sentence, but there are instances when without it a noun is communicatively empty (She has blue eyes), which makes it obligatory.





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