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Division of the sentence: principal vs secondary parts

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The sentence as language unit, functioning in communication to reflect a range of situations, follows general structural patterns and semantic configurations. Sentence constituents being organized syntagmatically (syntactically) by means of syntactic relations occupy certain syntactic positions, both principal and secondary, in order to establish integrity of the sentence in terms of its form (structure), meaning (content) and function (communicative purpose). It is common in grammatical theory to divide the structure into parts of a sentence understood as word forms or word groups (1) morphologically marked by categorial distinctions distinguishing part-of-speech properties such as tense, voice, mood, aspect, person, number, case, degree, etc., (2) with correlation between lexical meanings of words and their syntactical positions, and in the end (3) with proper syntactic function, i.e. syntagmatic relations between the given syntactic segment and other syntactic elements in the sentence structure. The boundaries of sentence segmentation are determined by the two factors: role of the sentence part in formation of its predicative line; nature of syntactic relations (predicative, subordinate, coordinate) building up syntagmatic combinality of word forms. Under the given conditions, three groups of sentence parts are found out, namely:

· Subject and Predicate Group with its constituents recognized as main principal parts and forming the predicative line of a sentence by means of predicative syntactic relations.

· Object and Adverbial Modifier Groupwith its constituents recognized as secondary verb-orientated parts, which means to be dependent on a verb as head-word so as to form the syntactic positions of an object and adverbial modifier with the help of objective and adverbial subordinate syntactic relations.

· Attributive Groupwith its constituents recognized as secondary noun-orientated parts, which means to be dependent on a noun as head-word so as to form the syntactic positions of an attribute with the help of qualifying subordinate syntactic relations.

Obviously, the structural and semantic minimum of the sentence is created by the subject and the predicate structuring the predicative line either explicitly or implicitly; meanwhile, the secondary parts tend to be subordinate to one of the principal parts.

The subject as the left-hand surrounding of the predicate serves its function as to name the thing, animate or inanimate, the property of which is indicated by the predicate; in other words, it exposes substantivity as the bearer of the predicative quality indicated by the predicate. Its morphological meaning is connected with general features of the parts of speech occupying the position of the subject. As follows:a noun or a noun-phrase: e.g. The sky was cloudy. A lovely sunny day is coming;a pronoun: personal, impersonal, demonstrative, interrogative, negative, collective, anticipatory: e.g. They were walking in the rain. It was dark. These are the books you need. Who will make a report? Nothing happened. Everyone burst into laughing. It is wrong to think so;a substantivised word: e.g. The unemployed must get a social security benefit. The impossible is going on;a numeral: e.g. Five are reported to be injured;an infinitive: e.g. To go on like this seems to be dangerous. How to do this job is a big problem;a gerund: e.g. Jogging is good exercise. Studying foreign languages proved to be hard work;introductory ‘there’: e.g. There is a page missing from the book. There were a lot of people in the hall.

The predicateis understood to be the process modifier of the subject providing the process orientation of the existence of substantivity expressed by it; in other words, the process, embedded in the verb, gives the description of the predicative quality of the subject, linking it with the right-hand elements – the object and the adverbial modifier. The predicate falls into the following types:

· simple verbal having a finite form as its structural centre: e.g. She was speaking slowly. Their talking was heard in a distance;

· simple phraseological predicate expressed by a phrase; here belong such phraseological units as ‘have a talk, give a smile, pay attention, make noise, do a favour, take place, make use, make up one’s mind, etc.: e.g. You never pay attention to your mistakes. She is always making fun of us!;


· simple contaminated (double) predicate forming a mixed type of a verbal and nominal predicate: e.g. She married young. He came home exhausted. She left home disappointed. He was said to have come back;

· compound verbal predicate subdivided into compound modal of a modal verb (or equivalent) and an infinitive and compound aspect of a finite verb with an aspective meaning (begin, go on, stop, finish, keep) and a verbal (an infinitive or a gerund): e.g. You shouldn’t bother. Can I see the manager? He must have failed the exam. He began to ask questions. They went on talking. He’s just stopped smoking;

· compound nominal predicate consisting of a linking verb (look, feel, smell, taste, become, grow, get, remain, stay) and a predicative expressed by a nominal element carrying the lexical meaning of the predicate (normally, a noun, an adjective, a verbal, a numeral, and rarely an adverb): e.g. He remained angry all time. She looks annoyed. Does it taste good? They are diligent students. I’m afraid he is away. His hobby is fishing;

· compound phraseological predicate where modal and aspect finite verbs come along with phraseological units: e.g. He’s finally stopped making stupid mistakes. He keeps on looking after her elderly parents. I can give you a call. He might have been studying hard;

· compound contaminated predicate with combined features of the given above types: e.g. It must be smelling something burnt. He can stay awake all night. He must have been standing silent very long. He seems to be making friends quite easily.

The grammatical valency determines the syntactic expansion of the predicative line of the sentence through the dependent sentence parts with verbal syntactic orientation (object, adverbial modifier) and nominal syntactic orientation (attribute). Based on syntactic differences, a distinction is drawn between prepositional and non-prepositional object, the latter further on divided into the direct affected by the process of the verb and the indirect denoting a living being to whom the process is directed: e.g. To him the future did not seem so depressing. Working hard is trouble for a modern contemporary. He is looking for a new flat. Everyone accused himof telling lies. I envy you. We bought Dada present. I showed himthe road.

Circumstantial, qualitative, quantitative characteristics of the process are specified by adverbial modifiers expressing time and frequency (e.g. I’ll be with you in ten minutes. He has never been abroad), place and direction (e.g. She followed me upstairs. They have just arrived at the airport), manner or attendingcircumstances (e.g. He drove at full speed. She went off without saying good-bye), cause (e.g. Being exhausted, he fell asleep), purpose (e.g. He is saving money to buy a new car), result (e.g. The listeners were too young to grasp the idea of the talk), condition (e.g. In case of his absence I will leave the message), concession (e.g. The day was fine, though cold), degree and measure (e.g. I like him very much. Today she weighs a lot more), comparison (e.g. She is much better than others).

The attribute is a dependent member of a nounal word combination, denoting an attributive quality of a thing. As regards their position, there can be prepositive generally expressed by a word having the meaning of quality or quantity (adjective, adjective-pronoun, numeral, participle) and postpositive mostly expressed by a single word or a word group (prepositional, construction): e.g. He gave a short killing remark. A nice good-natured smile is her obvious strength. I’m writing to tell you depressing news. – She was a young woman in her early twenties. There is nowhere else for her to go. This is the book to read and enjoy oneself. A special kind ofa prepositive attribute is a close apposition whereas a loose, detached apposition stands in post-position: e.g. Mary and her brother Simon stood apart. Aunt Anne used to be rude at times. – John, his eldest son, lived away from home. The sky, blue and bright, began to have a special look.

Semantically, attributes, restrictive or non-restrictive, may express various shades of relations with their head-words: e.g. He spent five days on holiday. It was a lovely interesting story. She was given a gold ring. There stood a handsome young Englishman.

Meanings of sentence parts are diverse, which results from syntactic roles played by them in formation the sentence structure.

Key words:

sentence constituentsконституенты предложения

syntactic positions: principal, secondaryсинтаксические позиции: главные, второстепенные

integrity of sentenceцелостность предложения

form (structure)форма (структура)

meaning (content)значение (содержание)

function (communicative purpose)функция (коммуникативная целеустановка)

morphologically marked by categorial distinctions морфологическимаркированный через категориальные признаки

correlation between lexical meanings of words and their syntactical positionsсоотнесенность между лексическими значениями слов и их синтаксическими позициями

syntactic functionсинтаксическая функция

sentence segmentation сегментация предложения

principal parts (Subject and Predicate Group)главные члены предложения (группа подлежащего и сказуемого)

secondary verb-orientated parts (Object and Adverbial Modifier Group) второстепенные ориентированные на глагол члены предложения (группа объекта и обстоятельства)

secondary noun-orientated parts (Attributive Group)второстепенные ориентированные на существительное члены предложения (группа атрибута)

substantivity as the bearer of the predicative qualityпредметность как носитель предикативного признакаprocess modifier of subject

process orientation of existence of substantivityсуществование предметности через процесс

simple verbal predicateпростое глагольное сказуемое

simple phraseological predicate простое фразеологическое сказуемое

simple contaminated (double) predicate простое сказуемое с совмещенным значением

compound verbal predicateсоставное глагольное сказуемое

compound nominal predicateсоставное именное сказуемое

linking verbглагол-связка

predicative\nominal element предикатив\именной компонент

compound phraseological predicate составное фразеологическое сказуемое

compound contaminated predicate составное сказуемое с совмещенным значенем

grammatical valencyграмматическая валентность

syntactic expansion синтаксическое расширение

prepositional\non-prepositionalobject предложный\непредложный объект

direct\indirect objectпрямой\косвенный объект

circumstantial, qualitative, quantitative characteristics of processобстоятельственные, признаковые, количественные характеристики процесса

adverbial modifiers\time and frequencyобстоятельства времени и частотности

place and direction места и направления

mannerобраза действия

attendingcircumstances сопутствующих обстоятельств

cause причины

purpose цели

result результата

condition условия

concession уступки

degree and measure степени

comparison сравнения

attributive quality of thingатрибутивное качество предмета

prepositive препозитивное определение

postpositive постпозитивное определение

close appositionструктурно связанное приложение

loose, detached apposition обособленное приложение

restrictive\non-restrictiveограничительное\неограничительное определение


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