English Syntax Exam 1 Answers

English syntax exam 1 answers

English syntax exam answers about: relation of substitutability, exocentric and endocentric constructions, mood, tree diagram of sentences, the subject between English and Arabic, inflections and word order.

1. Define these key terms (with examples)
  • Relation of substitutability
refers to sets of words (man, girl, boy) or groups of more than one word (strong man, tallest boy, pretty girl) which may be substitutable for each other grammatically in sentences with the same structure.
- The (man, girl, boy) smiles.
- The (strong man, tallest boy, pretty girl) smiles.

Each one of these structures may be replaced by the other and the sentence still grammatically correct. It is also called Vertical or Choice relations.
  • Exocentric construction
refers to group of syntactically related words where none of the words is functionally equivalent to the group as a whole. In other words, there is no definable head inside the group.
- The lion roars  (Subject + Verb)
- I eat an apple  (Subject + Verb + Object)
- He read from the book  (Subject + Verb + (Preposition + Object of the Preposition))
- She looks beautiful  (Subject + Linking verb + Subject complement (Adjective))
Neither underlined constituents can substitute the sentence or the phrase as a whole.
  • Mood
It aims to show the psychological state of the speaker. In grammar, it is used to refer to a verb category or form which indicates whether the verb expresses a fact (the indicative mood) as in “John gets up early”,  in this mood there is no indicative sign about feeling, a command (the imperative mood) to give direct orders as in “John, get up!”, a question (the interrogative mood) which expresses a sense of uncertainty as in “Are you coming to the mall?”, a condition (the conditional mood) to express hypothetical or contrary-to-fact statements as in “If I lived in France, I would visit the Eiffel tower”, or a wish or possibility (the subjunctive mood) to express opinions and feelings; unlike French, English has no morphological mark on the verb in this mood, we just add a phrase or clause that expresses the speaker’s feeling as in It’s a pity that John lost his father ”.

2. Write 2 exocentric constructions and 2 Endocentric constructions in addition to those given.
              "The very strong man has destroyed the city of Rome"

a. Endocentric constructions

- The very strong man
- very strong
- has destroyed

b. Exocentric construction

- The very strong man has destroyed the city of Rome
- of Rome
- has destroyed the city

3. Draw the tree diagram of this sentence. Two possibilities
              "I am looking at the dog with two eyes"

'I am looking at the dog with two eyes' Tree Diagram

'I am looking at the dog with two eyes' Tree Diagram

4. In one long paragraph write on the difference between Subjects in English and Arabic.

The subject is said to be the doer of the action or what the sentence is about, like in this example “The boy kicked the dog”, “the boy” is the doer of the verb so the subject. But, it is not the case in this passive statement “the dog was kicked by the boy”. To solve this, another two terms have arisen the grammatical subject and the logical subject. Accordingly, “the dog” is the grammatical subject while “the boy” is the logical or the real subject. In general, it seems too difficult to set rules to determine which NP is the subject. However, in English, there are five possible grammatical ways to know the subject. The common way is word order; basically, the subject precedes the verb in statements as in these examples :
- John eats an apple.
- The student won the prize.

The second way is the pro-forms which are commonly known as pronouns. The first and third person pronouns appear in special forms when they are subjects while these forms are not used when they occur in other positions as in :
- He loves me.
- I hate you.
- We saw them.
- They know us.

The third way is agreement with verb, mainly the verb agrees with its subject in the present tense by adding (-s) at the end of the verb when a third person subject is singular, while the number of the object has no effect on the verb form.
- She loves him.
- They love them.
- She loves them.

By considering content questions, the subject is replaced by (who or what) without changing the rest of the sentence as in :     
- The dog bit the boy.
- Who bit the boy ?

However, when we ask about any other element in the sentence, it is replaced by an auxiliary verb as illustrated by this example :
- What did the dog bit?

On the other hand, when we seek a confirmation of a statement we form a tag-question ended by a pronoun which refers back only to the subject and never to any other element in the sentence like in :
- The teacher is absent, isn’t he ?
- My mother was sick, wasn’t she ?

By contrast, the subject in Arabic is defined by inflections added at the end of the subject rather by word order like in English. Overall, in Arabic, unlike English, the word order doesn’t reflect the grammatical function. The subject commonly comes after the verb. It may be explicit or implicit, if it is explicit it is marked by the inflections (-u or -un) like in :
- Kataba zaydun alqissata.
- kataba ahmadu alqissata.

The subject could also be a pronoun as in :
- katabtu alqissata.
- katabta alqissata.
- katabti alqissata.

In these examples, the morpheme (-t-) at the end of to the verb refers to the subject and the inflections (-u, -a, -i) refer to the gender or the number (singular)of the subject whether it is me or you (masculine or feminine). Moreover, the dual and plural subject pronouns are represented by the long vowel sounds (ɑ:u:) respectively as shown in these examples :
- katab(ɑ:) alqissata. (dual)
- katab(u:) alqissata. (plural)

To sum up, the subject between English and Arabic is slightly different which reflects the characteristics of each language system.

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