Predicates in Traditional Grammar
The predicate in traditional grammar is inspired by propositional logic of antiquity (as opposed to the more modern predicate logic). A predicate is seen as a property that a subject has or is characterized by. A predicate is therefore an expression that can be true of something. Thus, the expression "is moving" is true of those things that are moving. This classical understanding of predicates was adopted more or less directly into Latin and Greek grammars and from there it made its way into English grammars, where it is applied directly to the analysis of sentence structure. It is also the understanding of predicates in English-language dictionaries. The predicate is one of the two main parts of a sentence (the other being the subject, which the predicate modifies). The predicate must contain a verb, and the verb requires, permits, or precludes other sentence elements to complete the predicate. These elements are: objects (direct, indirect, prepositional), predicatives, and adjuncts:
- She dances.
- Ben reads the book.
- Ben's mother, Felicity, gave me a present.
- She listened to the radio.
- They elected him president.
- She met him in the park.
- She is in the park.
The predicate provides information about the subject, such as what the subject is, what the subject is doing, or what the subject is like. The relation between a subject and its predicate is sometimes called a nexus. A predicative nominal is a noun phrase that functions as the main predicate of a sentence, such as George III is the king of England, the king of England being the predicative nominal. The subject and predicative nominal must be connected by a linking verb, also called a copula. A predicative adjective is an adjective that functions as a predicate, such as Ivano is attractive, attractive being the predicative adjective. The subject and predicative adjective must also be connected by a copula.
This traditional understanding of predicates has a concrete reflex in all phrase structure theories of syntax. These theories divide the generic declarative sentence (S) into a noun phrase (NP) and verb phrase (VP), e.g.
The subject NP is shown in green, and the predicate VP in blue. This concept of sentence structure stands in stark contrast to dependency structure theories of grammar, which place the finite verb (= conjugated verb) as the root of all sentence structure and thus reject this binary NP-VP division.
Read more about this topic: Predicate (grammar)
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Famous quotes containing the words grammar, predicates and/or traditional:
“Proverbs, words, and grammar inflections convey the public sense with more purity and precision, than the wisest individual.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)
“In the case of our main stock of well-worn predicates, I submit that the judgment of projectibility has derived from the habitual projection, rather than the habitual projection from the judgment of projectibility. The reason why only the right predicates happen so luckily to have become well entrenched is just that the well entrenched predicates have thereby become the right ones.”
—Nelson Goodman (b. 1906)
“I come from a long line of male chauvinists in a very traditional family. To rebel against my background, I didnt shoot dopeI married a working woman.”
—Joe Bologna (20th century)