English Theoretical Grammar

3. It is doubtful whether the grammatical category of gender exists in Modern English for it is hardly ever expressed

English Theoretical Grammar

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ture-represented denotations of the substantial appurtenance) and the adverb (feature-represented denotations of the non-substantial appurtenance).

However, the typical functional positions of these classes may be occupied by representatives of the functional classes by virtue of substitution, that is why some scholars speak of additional notional subclasses.


Point 4. The field nature of the parts of speech.


The intricate correlations of units within each part of speech are reflected in the theory of the morphological fields which states the following: every part of speech comprises units fully possessing all features of the given part of speech; these are its nucleus. Yet, there are units which do not possess all features of the given part of speech though they belong to it. Therefore, the field includes both central and peripheral elements; it is not homogeneous in composition (cf.: gives the lexical meaning of a process, the functional position of a predicate, the word-changing paradigm; and must a feeble lexical meaning, the functional position of a predicative, absence of word-changing paradigm).




Point 1. The noun. The grammatical meaning of the noun. Semantic and grammatical subclasses of nouns. Grammatical categories of the noun. The category of number. The correlation of the singular and the plural forms. The category of case. The varying semantics of the noun in the possessive case. Syntactic functions of nouns. The field structure of the noun.

  1. The noun is a notional part of speech possessing the meaning of substantivity.
  2. Substantivity is the grammatical meaning due to which word units, both the names of objects proper and non-objects, such as abstract notions, actions, properties, etc., function in language like the names of objects proper.
  3. From the point of view of semantic and grammatical properties all English nouns fall under two classes: proper nouns and common nouns.

Proper nouns are individual names given to separate persons or things. As regards their meaning proper nouns may be personal names (Mary, Peter, Shakespeare), geographical names (London, The Crimea), the names of the months and the days of the week, names of ships, hotels, clubs, etc. A large number of nouns now proper were originally common nouns (Brown, Smith, Mason). Proper nouns may change their meaning and become common nouns (sandwich, champagne).

Common nouns are names that can be applied to any individual of a class of persons or things (man, dog, book), collections of similar individuals or things regarded as a single unit (peasantry, family), materials (snow, iron,cotton) or abstract notions (kindness, development).

Thus there are different groups of common nouns: class nouns, collective nouns, nouns of material and abstract nouns.

Nouns may also be classified from another point of view: nouns denoting things (the word thing is used in a broad sense) that can be counted are called countable nouns; nouns denoting things that cannot be counted are called uncountable nouns.

  1. We may speak of three grammatical categories of the noun.

1. The category of number. Nouns that can be counted have two numbers: singular and plural.

2. The category of case is highly disputable. Yet, many scholars assume that nouns denoting living beings (and some nouns denoting lifeless things) have two case forms: the common case and the genitive (or possessive) case.

3. It is doubtful whether the grammatical category of gender exists in Modern English for it is hardly ever expressed by means of grammatical forms. There is practically one gender-forming suffix in Modern English, the suffix ess, expressing feminine gender. It is not widely used (heir heiress, poet poetess, actor actress).

  1. The basic meaning of the category of number is the opposition of the singularity and the plurality of objects. The plurality implies an amount exceeding one. The singular number is conveyed by the basic form, i.e. by the form which has no endings and which coincides with the stem. The plural number is graphically conveyed by the s formant that materializes itself as a number of allomorphs (/s/, /z/, /iz/) depending on the character of the final sound of the stem (books, cats, dogs, potatoes, classes, bushes). However, there are other, unproductive means of forming the plural form (children, nuclei, phenomena, feet, mice). And finally, there are some nouns that do not possess the formal features of either plural or singular number (sheep, deer, swine, news, scissors, trousers).
  2. Of the two number forms, the singular number is compulsory for all nouns, except for pluralia tantum. The reason for this fact is that the singular number is capable of conveying not only the availability of quantity (one) but also the absence of quantitative measurements for uncountables. The plural form always conveys some quantitative relationship; it is due to this fact that the plural number is capable of conveying the concretion of an abstract notion: a noun denoting a generalized feature (a quality or a feeling) may also convey manifestations which are occasional (attentions, joys).


Theme 5. THE NOTIONAL PARTS OF SPEECH (continued).


  1. It is generally assumed that there are two cases in English: the common case and the genitive (possessive) case. Thus the paradigm may look as follows:

Singular Plural

Common case: the boy the boys

Genitive case: the boys the boys

Most scholars usually point to the fact that the genitive case is mainly used with the nouns of person (Jims book, Marys brother) but it may be occasionally used with the nouns denoting lifeless things, namely: periods of time, distance, and price (a weeks notice, a miles distance, a dollars worth of sugar). It may also occur, though seldom, with the nouns which are situationally definite (The cars front door was open).

  1. The semantic characteristics of the noun vary depending on the case used; the genitive case expresses the individual characteristics of the object modified whereas the common case denotes a generalized property which is not ascribed to any single bearer (cf.: Shakespeares sonnets the Shakespeare National Theatre; the rooms walls the room walls).
  2. The field structure of the noun is made up of the central group and the peripheral group. The central group includes object nouns and nouns of person, both having equal number of characteristic features; though object nouns are easily used as prepositive attributes, they do not tend to be used so easily in the genitive case which, in turn, is a characteristic feature of the nouns of person. The peripheral group consists of abstract nouns and nouns of material; both of them are devoid of the categories of number and case (with a few exceptions); they are not used with the indefinite article. However, nouns of material are easily used as prepositive attributes.


Point 2. The pronoun. The semantic classification of pronouns. The deictic and the anaphoric functions of pronouns. Syntactic peculiarities of pronouns. Grammatical categories of pronouns.


  1. The pronoun is a part of speech which points out objects and their qualities without naming them. Therefore, the pronoun possesses a highly generalized meaning that seldom materializes outside of the context.
  2. The semantic classification of pronouns includes such subclasses as personal, possessive, demonstrative, interrogative, reciprocal, relative, indefinite, negative, conjunctive, defining and reflexive pronouns.
  3. The deictic, or indicatory, function of the pronoun is inherent in many subclasses except, maybe, interrogative, indefinite and negative. The anaphoric function, or the function of connecting with the preceding sentence or clause, is characteristic of relative and conjunctive pronouns though it may be occasionally performed by the other subclasses.
  4. Syntactic peculiarities of pronouns are accounted for by the fact that the pronoun is very close in its syntactic functions to those of the noun and the adjective. Hence, the main functions it performs are the ones of the subject, the predicative, the object, and the attribute.
  5. The pronoun seems to have the grammatical categories of person, gender (personal and possessive pronouns), case (personal, and the relative and interrogative WHO the nominative and objective cases; indefinite, reciprocal and negative the common and genitive cases) and number (demonstrative, and the defining OTHER).


Point 3. The numeral. General characteristics and problems of subcategorizing.


  1. The numeral is a part of speech which indicates number or the order of persons and things in a series.


  1. Numerals are united by their semantics only. They have neither morphologic nor syntactic features. All numerals are subdivided into cardinal and ordinal. Both subclasses can perform equally well the functions peculiar of nouns and adjectives. Numerals possess a specific word-building system: suffixes teen, -ty, -th. Some of them are easily substantivized and treated as nouns.


Point 4. The adjective. The grammatical meaning of the adjective. Semantic and grammatical subclasses of adjectives. Grammatical categories of the adjective. Syntactic functions of adjectives. Substantivization of adjectives. The field nature of the adjective.


  1. The adjective is a part of speech expressing a quality

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