Intro to Words and Phrases
Intro to Words and Phrases
Intro to Words and
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sehnaz Sahinkarakas
• Traditional classification of words (eight parts of speech):
• However, four of them (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs) are different
from other word classes. How?
• They constitute 99% of our vocabulary
• They can have particular endings / suffixes
• Traditional Definition of Noun: a person, a place, a thing
• However, a noun like «kindness» is not exactly a thing:
• A new definition should be considered!
• Let’s consider ‘Noun Inflections’ (modification of a word to
express different grammatical categories)
• A new definition of noun (based on form) might be:
• A noun is a word that can be made plural and/or possessive.
• Phrase: any group of words that functions as a unit within the
• A phrase always has a head/headword
• Headword of the noun phrase is a noun
• Most noun phrases include a noun signaler (determiner)
• Egs (headwords underlined; determiners in italics)
• The headword
• A unit
• The traditional definition
Determiners in Noun Phrases
• A) articles (‘a’ and ‘the’)
• a unit
• the traditional definition
• B) functions of nouns and pronouns in the possessive case
• Mary’s laugh
• her new car
• C) demonstrative pronouns – this, that, these, those
• this old house
• those expensive sneakers
• Which noun phrases do NOT have determiners?
• Proper nouns --names of people (Mary) and places (Turkey)
• Plural nouns with a general meaning (cats)
• Thus, it is possible to say that (not considering the exceptions), most
noun phrases begin with a determiner; i.e., when you see a
determiner, be sure you are at the beginning of a noun phrase
• The new definition:
• A noun is a word that can be made plural and/or possessive; it
occupies the headword position in the noun phrase; it is usually
signaled by a determiner.
• Identify the determiners and headwords in the following
The students rested after their long trip.
• 2. Our new neighbors across the hall became our best
• 3. Mickey’s roommate studies in the library on rainy
A huge crowd lined the streets for the big parade.
This new lasagna recipe feeds an enormous crowd.
• 6. Jessica made her new boyfriend a batch of chocolate chip
• Now, go to p. 10 and do Exercise 1
• Turn each list of words into a noun phrase and use it in a
sentence. Compare your sentences with a classmate’s; they
will be different but not your noun phrases!
table, the, wooden, small
my, sneakers, roommate’s, new
cotton, white, T-shirts, the, other, all
gentle, a, on the head, tap
the, with green eyes, girl
• Traditional definition: an action word; however, ‘expect’ is not
• There are five forms of verbs
• ‘to be’ has 8 forms: am, is, are, was, were, been, being, be
• Not considering this exception, the definition of a verb:
• A verb is a word that shows tense, such as present and past
• Many words can serve as either nouns or verbs
• I made a promise to my boss. (noun)
• I promised to be on time for work. (verb)
• He offered to help us. (verb)
• We accepted his offer. (noun)
• Write a pair of short sentences for each of the following words
(as nouns and verbs):
Headword of a verb phrase: verb
Other components depend on the subclass of the verb
E.g. It might be followed by a noun phrase
A noun phrase follows a transitive verb,
• The cat
• but not an intransitive verb
• In many sentences, the verb phrase include one or two
adverbials (Mary laughed loudly)
• Like in noun phrase, a verb phrase can be completed with
only the headword.
• E.g. Cats fight; Mary laughed.
• These are single-word verb phrases and are very rare
• Most of the time the formula:
• NP + VP = S
• The NP functions as the subject of the sentence; the VP
functions as the predicate.
• Now go to p.11 and do Exercise 2
ADJECTIVES AND ADVERBS
• Can generally be recognized by their form and/or by their
position in the sentence.
• The inflectional endings that identify adjectives and some
adverbs are the comparative suffix, -er and the superlative, est.
• When the word has two or more syllables, the comparative
and superlative markers are generally more and most.
• Another way of testing if a word is an adjective or adverb is its
ability to pattern with a qualifier, such as very
• How do we differentiate an adjective and an adverb?
• -ly in adverbs is a derivational suffix (rather than inflectional
suffix): it enables us to derive adverbs from adjectives.
• There are some other adverbs without –ly:
• How do we identify an adverb in a sentence?
• By the kind of information it supplies to the sentence:
• information of time, place, manner, frequency, …
• it answers such questions as where, when, why, how,
and how often
• on the basis of their position in the predicate and their
Adverbs or adjectives?
• Adjectives are positioned between the determiner and the
This new recipe
an enormous crowd
• Adverbs are part of the predicate (modify verbs)
Some residents spoke passionately for the ordinance.
Mario suddenly hit the brakes.
• And they can often be moved to a different place in the
Mario hit the brakes suddenly.
Suddenly Mario hit the brakes.
Now, go to p. 14 for Group Discussion
• A two-part structure consisting of a preposition followed by
an object (generally a noun phrase)
• They may appear as part of a noun phrase or as a modifier of
• In a noun phrase, prepositional phrase adds a detail or makes
clear the identity of the noun
• E.g.: Our new neighbors across the hall became our best
• It serves like an adjective (answers which neighbors) so
it is called adjectival prepositional phrase.
• We can also see adverbial prepositional phrases:
• E.g. 1: Our good friends live across the hall.
• (answers the question ‘where’)
• E.g. 2: The students rested after their long trip.
After their long trip, the students rested.
• (answers the question ‘when’)
• Modifiers of nouns are called adjectivals.
• Modifiers of verbs are called adverbials.
• Now, go to p.15 for Exercise 3
More exercises on adjectivals
• Identify the underlined prepositional phrases as either
adjectival or adverbial
• 1. A huge crowd lined the streets for the big parade.
Bill got a new MacBook Air for his birthday.
• 3. Some residents of the community spoke against the
The merchants in town are unhappy.
I googled Tony’s blog on my BlackBerry.
More exercises on adjectivals
• 6. This was an important route for merchants and travellers of
• 7. Kingdoms became more centralized after the breakup of the
• 8. Over a hundred years and more, all the territory was eventually
conquered by the Romans.
• 9. The distinction between North Africa and much of Sub-Saharan
Africa is historically and ecologically significant.
• 10. The reasons for the decline of the Empire are still debated today
More exercise on adjectival and
• 11. It also creates opportunities for employment in the service
sector of the economy, associated with tourism.
• 12. The difference between climate and weather is usefully
summarized by the popular phrase "Climate is what you
• 13. Human habitation of the Australian continent is estimated
to have begun between 42,000 and 48,000 years ago.
• 14. The changes in these regions between summer and winter
are generally mild.