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Optional Slots

Optional Slots

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Optional Slots

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  1. Optional Slots Ed McCorduck English 402--Grammar SUNY Cortland

  2. In all the sentence patterns we’ve seen so far, slots like NP (subj), be (pred vb), V-lnk (pred vb), ADJ (subj comp), NP (subj comp) etc. have been required in each pattern, but sometimes an element will not be necessary to a sentence. In other words, the slot is optional and whether the element is present in the surface sentence or not the sentence is still grammatical (in the descriptive sense). slide 2: definition of optional slots English 402: Grammar

  3. * = ungrammatical, i.e., the verb fling requires a direct object slot as in The lemmings flung themselves (over the cliff) slide 3: missing elements vs. optional slots; examples exx The lemmings charged. *The lemmings flung. The lemmings charged madly. The lemmings charged off the cliff. English 402: Grammar

  4. slide 4: another example of missing elements vs. optional slots exx *She devoured. She devoured the sandwich. She devoured the sandwich ravenously. English 402: Grammar

  5. These “optional” slots are filled by adverbials, which can be either single words or phrases. Adverbials can also include words from the class known as qualifiers, among which are words like very, pretty [in the sense of ‘fairly’, i.e., not the adjective meaning ‘nice looking’] rather, less, almost, nearly and the informal qualifier way. slide 5: adverbials and qualifiers English 402: Grammar

  6. slide 6: examples of adverbials with qualifiers exx Jack runs very fast. adverbial The car sped nearly into a ditch. adverbial She discerned the problem less quickly than I did. adverbial He drove way slow. (informal) adverbial English 402: Grammar

  7. slide 7: functions of adverbials Adverbials express the following concepts: time (can answer the one-word question When?) place (can answer the one-word question Where?) manner (can answer the one-word question How?) reason/cause/purpose (can answer the one-word question When?) frequency (can answer the short question How often?) English 402: Grammar

  8. slide 8: on the flexible positioning of adverbials Unlike other slots, those for adverbials are quite flexible; adverbials can generally occur in the following positions in a sentence: at the beginning at the end medially, i.e., usually between other slots but sometimes within an element that fills a slot exx Cyanide very often smells like almonds. (subj)adverbial (predvb) Rollyis always looking hungry. (subj) adverbial (i.e., is looking is one element, the predvb) English 402: Grammar

  9. slide 9: adverbials’ flexible surface position but set position in R-K diagrams Regardless of where an adverbial may occur in the surface sentence, however, in a Reed-Kellogg diagram adverbials always go on slanted lines under the verb which is on the main line. To illustrate, in the following sentences the adverbial desperately occurs in three different positions, but the diagram on the next slide is the only way to diagram each of these three variants: Desperately the survivors swam. The survivors desperately swam. The survivors swam desperately. English 402: Grammar

  10. slide 10: example of a Reed-Kellogg diagram of a sentence with a movable adverbial English 402: Grammar