In English, there are 10 parts of speech (also known as syntactic categories) divided into 2 sub-
Major categories (or Lexical categories): Noun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb, preposition
Minor categories (or Functional categories): Determiner, Pronoun, Auxiliary, Conjunction,
Three reasons for the distinction between lexical et functional categories: (i) open vs closed
class, (ii) productivity, and (iii) semantic content.
Lexical categories form an open/unlimited class, functional categories are a small number. How
many nouns does English have? How many articles?
-major categories have a large inventory, there are many
-we can create new categories , new words to surf, email, yahoo, we can create verbs, adjectives, etc
-every word that is recently created must be a major category word, we cannot create minor category
-there is always a meaning associated with major category words, they don’t provide meaning
-a, the, an, are called articles
-how many nouns are in english ? There is a difference between nouns and articles
- Inventory is open for nouns and closed for articles
- We can create new nouns, and we cant create new articels (a, the, etc)
- -we never create new auxilaires, and they never seem to have meainng , the word “am” doesn’t
DETERMINING PART OF SPEECH
- Morphological distribution: look at the kind of affixes (prefixes and suffixes) that appear on the
- Derivational affixes : they make new words out of other words (kill kill-er)
- Inflectional affixes : don’t make new words , just attach to certain words (boy-s) (boys is
still a noun and the category is still the same)
- Syntactic distribution: look at the kind of words that appear near the word . Example: nouns
typically appear after determiners (articles) such as the, although they need not do so to be
nouns, Thus the appearance after the is a test for noun –hood. Lets practise
- Morphological distribution ,helps determine the meaning shape of the word
- Syntactic positon helps determine meaning, you never put adverb as the subject of the
- The position of the words within the sentence helps determine the position - Nouns: how to recognize a noun?
- 1. Nouns: how to recognize a noun?
- Derivational suffixes: -ment, -ness, -ity, -ty, -(t)ion, -ation, -ist, -ant, -ery, -ee, -ship, -aire, -acy, -
let, -hood, -ism, -ing
- Inflectional suffixes: plural forms take suffixes such as –s, -es, -ren/-en (oxen, children), -i (cacti),
- Syntactic distribution: Nouns take determiners and can occur as subject of a sentence or object
of a verb.
- A hint! To see if a word is a noun, replace it with another word you know for sure is a noun. E.g.
I saw new comers / John running all over the place.
- Nouns take determiners so do a determiner test
Derivational suffixes: Adjectives often end in derivational endings such as –ing, -ive, -able, -al, -
ate, -ish, -some, -(i)an, -ful, -less, -ly.
Inflectional suffixes: they combine with comparative suffixe –er (or take the comparative word
more) and superlative –est (or the superlative most). When negated, they use –un in the sense
of “not”, not in the sense of “undo”.
Syntactic distribution: Adj can appear between Det and Noun, can be modified by the adverb
very, can appear after an auxiliary like be.
Derivational suffixes: Many English adverbs end in –ly: certainly, easily, etc
Inflectional suffixes: Adverbs generally lack inflectional suffixes.
Syntactic distribution: the easy way is to look at where adverbs cannot appear. Adverbs can’t
appear (i) between a determiner and a noun (•the quickly fox vs. the quick fox), (ii) before the
verb is and its variants. Thus, adverbs and adjectives are in complementary distribution.
The quick fox
- Quick is an adjective , but quickly is an adverb . Adjectives and adverbs are in a complementary
distribution and are mutually exclusive. Where the adjective can occur, the adverb cannot occur
in the same position
Prepositions (P) occur before nouns (or group of nouns). A list of English prepositions is given in (1):
(1) English P: to, from, under, over, with, by, at, above, before, after, through