Constituency Tests in Syntax (Linguistics)

Payal Khullar

Payal Khullar is a Linguist, who loves reading and writing, amongst other things. Graduate Honors in Botany and Masters in Linguistics, she is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. Computational Linguistics Program at IIIT Hyderabad.

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9 Responses

  1. Jay Avera says:

    What about proving constituency with a VP? Does it work the same way? For example: Jack and Jill [ran up a big bill] or Sally [turned on the TV].

    • One constituency test doesn’t work for all types of constituents. To prove constituency with VP, you can use the “co-ordination” test. By definition, then, a VP can be coordinated with a VP only. For example, Jack [ate green apples] and [drank a big glass of orange juice]. You can also use parenthetical insertion in some cases, i.e. you can break a sentence before or after the VP but not inside it. In the example you gave, you can say: Jack and Jill quickly [ran up a big hill] yesterday, but not something like *Jack and Jill ran up quickly a big hill yesterday, * Jack and Jill ran up a big quickly hill, etc.

  2. Susan Skowron says:

    Thank you for the information on Constituency; it was helpful for me in studying for a syntax exam – I do want to mention that in the fifth paragraph from the top, you refer to “full proof”…that should read “foolproof”.

  3. Tudurean says:

    Reblogged this on The journal of November and commented:
    This is a very comprehensible bold and well written. I really appreciate this blogger 🙂

  4. Alfarsi.edu says:

    Thank you!

    But how about a sentence like:
    The skies deluged the earth with water.

    Is ‘with water’ a constituent? And if yes what tests can we apply?

    Thanks again

    • Yes, “with water” is a PP constituent entailed within a larger NP constituent “the earth with water”. You can try the parenthetical insertion test. Hence, it would be “the skies deluged the earth beautifully with water”, but not “the skies deluged the earth with beautifully water”.

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