Answers to exercises: Chapter 2
1. Identifying morphemes
We won’t discuss the words that are clearly lexical and mono-morphemic, that is to
say which have lexical meaning and consist of one morpheme only and cannot be
The following words do require some comment in that they consist of more than one
morpheme or at least could be argued to do so:
Nowhere could be argued to be a compound consisting of no and where, at
least that is how it would have originated; however, it could also be argued
that it has, over time, developed into one morpheme, a bit like cupboard has.
Biopic is an interesting one, it looks like a compound consisting of two
abbreviated parts, bio(graphical) pic(ture), but since neither bio nor pic is a
morpheme of English independently, you could argue that it consists of two
‘cran-morphemes’ rather than two free morphemes, or maybe even that it
should be treated as a mono-morphemic word. You may well have developed
your own arguments for one of these conclusions.
It’s clearly consists of two morphemes, it and ’s, with it being free. The issue
here is whether you think of ’s as an inflection. It does not quite behave like an
affix; it shares some properties with a full word, but it is bound. The term used
for such ‘inbetween’ elements is usually CLITIC.
Watchable consists of two morphemes, the free watch and the bound able.
Watch is a verb and able converts it into an adjective, hence it is a
Director consists of the free morpheme direct and the derivational suffix -or.
The latter converts a verb into a noun, with the rough meaning of ‘someone
who VERBS’; as in instructor or conductor.
Avoids contains the free morpheme avoid and the inflectional affix -s. We
know that -s is inflectional because it only adds grammatical information
(agreement with the subject).
Beatles is best considered mono-morphemic. It may well have been the result
of a word game, playing on beetles and beat, but it wouldn’t be right to see it
as the plural of beatle. .
Clichés consists of the free morpheme cliché and the bound inflectional affix s.
Focusing is the -ing form of the verb, hence -ing is a bound inflectional affix
added to the free morpheme focus. There is also a derivational affix –ing, as in
building, but that is not the one used here.
John’s consists of two morphemes; the free lexical John and the bound
grammatical s. The behaviour of ’s is different from an affix like the plural s,
particularly in that it need not occur on the head of the noun phrase: the
president’s dog vs. the president of America’s dog (the dog belongs to the
president, not to America) compared to the president of America vs. the
presidents of America. Hence ’s tends also to be called a clitic, just like the ’s
Years consists of the free lexical morpheme year and the inflectional affix s.
As far as meaning goes, left consists of two parts; LEAVE and PAST TENSE,
much like departed does, but we cannot separate the two parts in left. Such
units that express two meanings are often referred to as PORTMANTEAUS.
Became is also an example of a portmanteau.
There are a large number of free grammatical morphemes in the text: but, a,
of, and, the and that. The pronouns, like we and he, can be argued to be
The category of preposition is in between lexical and grammatical in some
ways. Though it is most commonly listed as a lexical category, as we have
done in our book, there are some prepositions, like of and by in this text, that
seem to have a grammatical role in that there is no choice between them and
any other preposition – they are forced by the environment.
All morphemes we have described as affixes here are suffixes. This is quite typical for
English; inflectional affixes are always suffixes, but there are some derivational
2. Determining constituents
If extremely silly can be shown to be a constituent of He always tells extremely silly
jokes (and if you apply the tests, we think you will find it can), then extremely silly
jokes could still be a constituent. Constituents exist at different levels; two words may
form a constituent at the lowest level, but then that constituent may combine with
some other constituent. This is in fact what happens here; extremely and silly forms
one constituent and then that constituent, extremely silly, combines with jokes to form
a constituent at the next level up. Once we have established that extremely silly is a constituent, silly jokes cannot be a
constituent since at the lowest level silly has already combined with extremely.
3. Determining constituents
When you apply constituent tests, it is important that you apply the tests to the string
you are considering and only to the string you are considering. You need to watch this
especially when the result is an ungrammatical sentence, possibly indicating that the
string is not a constituent, because as a native speaker you won’t really like writing
down an obviously ungrammatical sentence and you might accidentally change a little
more than you should.
When the resulting test is ungrammatical, remember that it is important to ask why
that might be.
The Telegraph called [David Beckham's new beard] the most memorable part of
England's 3-0 win over Belarus.
The Telegraph called it the most memorable part of England's 3-0 win over
What did The Telegraph call the most memorable part of England's 3-0 win
David Beckham's new beard.
It was David Beckham's new beard that The Telegraph called the most memorable
part of England's 3-0 win over Belarus.
The Telegraph called David Beckham's new beard and Rooney’s goals the most
memorable parts of England's 3-0 win over Belarus.
*The Telegraph called beard the most memorable part of England's 3-0 win over
*The Telegraph called the most memorable part of England's 3-0 win over Belarus. We know that reduction will not work if more than one part of the string is obligatory
and that omission will not work if the constituent as a whole is obligatory. Beard is a
single count noun and we know that such nouns need to occur with something that
functions as a determiner, such as the or, in this case, David Beckham’s. Similarly,
this use of the verb call involves two complements, an object and an object
complement, and what we have done here is delete the object.
We can conclude, then, that David Beckham's new beard is a constituent of The
Telegraph called David Beckham's new beard the most memorable part of England's
3-0 win over Belarus. All but two constituent tests work, and the two that lead to
ungrammatical sentences can be assumed to do so because we delete obligatory parts.
You may have used David rather than beard for the substitution test and therefore
have ended up with a grammatical sentence, but generally with the substitution test,
you aim to keep the core meaning – you keep the head of the phrase in.
You might have marked the sentence resulting from omission down as grammatical,
on a par with sentences like He called ‘don’t go there’ or He called his sister in
Burnley, but note that this is a different meaning of call.
(b) Giggs scored a truly [sublime goal].
*Giggs scored a truly it.
*What did Giggs score a truly?
*It was sublime goal that Giggs scored a truly.
Giggs scored a truly sublime goal and crucial point.
*Giggs scored a truly goal / a truly sublime.
*Giggs scored a truly. It does not look like sublime goal is a constituent of this sentence. The only test that
gives a grammatical sentence is co-ordination, but note that since we h