User talk:Brett

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by virtue and in league[change]

Hello, Prof. Brett, I know you are a co-author of ASIEG2, and there is an online document on the Cambridge University Press website at In this document there is a list of prepositions which contains by virtue and in league. Or you can just click this link, and you can see this list.Victor Bob (talk) 15:30, 25 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Understood.--Brett (talk) 18:34, 25 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

null determiner[change]

In CGEL p.331, the such in such a brilliant idea is an external modifer. However, the such in such brilliant ideas is an internal modifier. So why not analyze the such in such brilliant ideas as an external modifier too?

To illustrate, please consider the following sentence pairs:

① That is such [a brilliant idea].

② Those are such [∅ brilliant ideas].

①’ That is [a brilliant idea].

②’ Those are [∅ brilliant ideas].

It seems that there exists a null determiner which is covert and is located right before the plural NP brilliant ideas in ② and ②’. Hence, the such in ② seems to be a predeterminer modifier (external modifier) which precedes a null determiner represented by ∅ rather than to be an internal modifier. ---Victor Bob (talk)

Two reasons. First, on principle, CGEL rejects the idea of null elements, so a null determiner just doesn't fly as an idea. Secondly, such is an internal modifier is examples like few such studies are available, so there's no obvious reason why it would be external when there's no determiner.--Brett (talk) 14:17, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Understood, thank you very much.

——Victor Bob (talk) 15:36, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

particle short[change]

Yes, it is best analyzed as a preposition in cut short something, and I've reverted it. Victor Bob (talk) 04:43, 9 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

content-specifying complement[change]

Hello, Prof. Brett, I want to ask you a question. Please consider the sentence below:

I think that he is right.

Do authors of CGEL analyze that he is right in the above sentence as a content-specifying complement and think (as used here) an intransitive verb? ——Victor Bob (talk) 02:49, 11 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes, I think that's right. Why?--Brett (talk) 13:13, 11 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Because in China, we are taught in middle school that the verb think is transitive when followed by a subordinate clause. ——Victor Bob (talk) 23:19, 11 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is mostly a terminological issue, I think. On the one hand, content-clause complements and objects have very different distributions, so there's a good reason to want to distinguish between them. Saying that transitive verbs allow only objects captures that difference. On the other hand, both can participate in forming the passive voice, so there's clearly some connection between them, and being able to say passive clauses are usually formed with transitive verbs is handy. So, I wouldn't say that your middle school curriculum was wrong here. There's no inherently correct meaning for transitive.--Brett (talk) 12:10, 12 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you for your reply, Prof. Brett. Your reply is extremely helpful to me. By the way, I wonder whether we can draw a more general conclusion that all content clauses function as content-specifying complement or content-specifying supplement. ——Victor Bob (talk)

What about subject?--Brett (talk) 21:01, 12 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The subject is also a type of complement (more specifically, external complement) in CGEL, though many grammars do not classify subjects as complements. For example, in generative syntax, subjects are specifiers rather than complements. Nonetheless, in word grammar (dependency grammar), subjects are indeed complements. Hence different grammatical theories differ in the classification of the function of subjects. Perhaps authors of CGEL are in favor of the analysis of word grammar (dependency grammar), for they use terms like heads, dependents and so on. These terms are also widely used in the framework of dependency grammar. Nowadays generative grammar has more influence than dependency grammar, so many grammarains will not regard the subject as a complement, such as Bas Aarts. In OMEG, he doesn't think subjects should be subsumed into complements. Notwithstanding, if we follow the analysis in the framework of word grammar, we can say the subject is a type of complement too, and we just distinguish external complements from internal ones. In the framework of generative grammar, semantic predicates can have external arguments in terms of their argument structures. When it comes to verbs, external arguments are exactly what authors of CGEL call external complements. Using the term external complement, we can easily find the parallel between semantic arguments and syntactic complements, which is maybe an advantage of analyzing the subject as a complement. In short, it seems to me that subjects are complements too. Accordingly, content clauses can function as external complements (i.e. subjects), internal complements (viz. predicative complements and obliques), or supplements. ——Victor Bob (talk)

Agreed.--Brett (talk) 15:03, 13 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Basic English combined wordlist[change]

Do you know why WT:Extended Basic English alphabetical wordlist is described as having 1500 words, when it actually has about 2600? I noticed this on Simple Wikipedia too, and brought it up. I thought you might know the reason for it. Lights and freedom (talk) 19:53, 17 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Where is it described that way? Off the top of my head, I would guess it's a word family vs word form counting difference. Not sure though.--Brett (talk) 21:58, 17 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

complex object[change]

In China, students in high school are familiar with the term complex object and they are told that the complex object always contains an object and an object complement. The so-called complex objects are in brackets in the following sentences:

① I dislike [people telling lies].

② He hates [anyone parking in his space].

③ They would hate [Jim to sell his boat].

④ I heard [the wind blowing].

⑤ My clumsy mistake set [everybody laughing].

⑥ He wants [you to call him back at eleven].

As far as I know, the complex object analysis differs markedly from the catenative complement analysis in CGEL. The authors of CGEL analaze you in ⑥ as an object and to call him back at eleven in ⑥ as a catenative complement.

However, the complex object analysis is consistent with the analysis in Generative Syntax except that generative grammarians refer to constituents bracketed above as verbal small clauses.

The analysis favored by Generative Syntax and traditional grammar taught in China assumes that there is no rasing in the course of syntactic derivation of the sentence He wants you to call him back at eleven. By contrast, you is analyzed as a raised object in He wants you to call him back at eleven by authors of CGEL. So there are disputes over whether the rasing has truly taken place in the sentences ①-⑥ or not.

I am wondering which analysis you will support, Prof. Brett.

Victor Bob (talk) 05:02, 28 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm no expert in generative syntax, but my understanding is that this is where the idea of raising arose. See discussions of ECM verbs.--Brett (talk) 11:47, 28 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yeah, exceptional case marking verbs! ECM verbs are said to be followed by TPs rather than by CPs, which means, for instance, the verb expect is followed by a TP in expect someone to do something and that the verb arrange is followed by a CP in arrange for someone to do something in that expect assigns accusative case to the subject of the following infinitival clause while arrange does not, inasmuch as the complementizer for assigns accusative case to the subject of the infinitival clause.

——Victor Bob (talk) 12:06, 28 February 2023 (UTC)

modern grammar[change]

Hello, Prof. Brett, today I feel extremely upset. I am a senior majoring in English, and my grades in university are not bad. Today, I attended an interview. I went to an English training institution in Chengdu to find a job to help high school students learn English. The interview is to let me talk about grammar points for 30 minutes. In China, generally speaking, high school students learn traditional grammar, so I talked about the nominal clauses in traditional grammar, which I was very familiar with, and I explained the concept of nominal clauses and other relevant contents in detail. But many teachers present criticized me.

——Victor Bob (talk) 12:27, 2 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That doesn't sound like a positive interview experience. I'm sorry you went through that, and I hope you're able to find a job that gives you a sense of meaning soon.--Brett (talk) 17:28, 2 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I try to translate CGEL into Chinese, some chapters having already been translated. But few people agree with the views in CGEL. My university teachers also do not agree with the views in the Cambridge Grammar.

——Victor Bob (talk) 12:42, 2 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think translating CGEL would be a very valuable thing to do. What are you doing with the translated material?
I think you'll find that most teachers worldwide haven't taken the opportunity to consider many different ways to think about English grammar. Few of the faculty I, personally, work with have moved away from traditional approaches. It can certainly be frustrating. Try not to define yourself by whether specific others are open to seeing your perspective on this kind of thing.--Brett (talk) 17:38, 2 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I combine the translated material with some analyses in minimalist syntax to construct a grammar system which may be regarded as a development of CGEL. In China, almost all students are taught traditional grammar. Many doctors who study English functional grammar or cognitive grammar also analyze sentences from the perspective of traditional grammar. For example, many doctoral students majoring in English linguistics use the term non-predicate verb, which is the equivalent of the term non-finite verb. At the very beginning,grammarains in China translate non-finite verb into Chinese 非谓语动词, because these people think that non-finite verbs cannot function as predicator. After that, they create a term non-predicate verb by translating 非谓语动词 into English. As you can see, the term become more and more drift from the basic meaning in English after translation into Chinese because of Chinese grammarians' misunderstanding of technical terms. So traditional grammarians in China cannot accept the term non-finite clauses, since they can't understand why non-predicate verbs can function as predicator, which is unacceptable and inconceivable to them. The key is that we need to translate English terms into accurate Chinese counterparts. That is why I am motivated to translate the Cambridge Grammar into Chinese.

——Victor Bob (talk) 02:47, 3 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I see. Terminology can have unintended consequences. Brett (talk) 11:48, 3 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Detective Clauses[change]

Constructions like believe sb. to do sth., imagine sb. to do sth., etc. are called ECM constructions, in which the expressions sb. to do sth. are known as defective clauses. In comparison, these expressions are not regarded as a complement clause but a sequence of two distinct types of complement in CGEL.

See The Grammar Book (3rd edition) p.685 ( and English Syntax and Argumentation (2nd edition) p.77 (

——Victor Bob (talk) 06:41, 3 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

infinitival to[change]

Indeed, the infinitival to is analyzed as an auxiliary in the earlier literature of generative grammar (i.e. GB-theory) and also in dependency grammar. But it is distinguished from auxiliaries in more recent generative work. As mentioned earlier, the infinitival to belongs to the category of T in minimalist syntax, which means that infinitival to is a functional head in infinitival clauses. Instead, it is analyzed as a dependent in CGEL.

The crucial point is that if we analyze it as an auxiliary, the consistency in the framework of CGEL will break down.

In I hope to see you soon, supposing to is an auxiliary, then see you soon must be a non-finite clause functioning as catenative complement according to catenative-auxiliary analysis. Note that if we take to as a subordinator, see you soon is just a VP.

In addition, if we consider other types of non-finite clauses, we must admit that if we say the to is an auxiliary, infinitivals then become the most distinct type of non-finite clauses because only infinitival clauses are invariably headed by the auxiliary verb to while other types of non-finite clause are headed by a lexical verb in most cases. There is no justification to give infinitival clauses such a privileged status.

It is explicitly proposed that in minimalist syntax, heads are always functional rather than having semantic content. This view can be shown as in the following expressions:

DP the book

TP to see you soon

CP that they are right

It is obvious form above expressions that the, to, and that are all functional heads without semantic content in minimalist syntax. Notwithstanding, the, to, and that are analyzed as dependents in CGEL. It's better to analyze to as head, but it doesn't mean that we must analyze it as an auxiliary verb. In view of the fact that analyzing to as head will lead to the result that other functional words like determiners and complementizers should also be regarded as heads, I prefer to analyze these dummy words as dependent, in accord with the implicit view in CGEL that normally contentives can function as head.

In short, to is a T in minimalist syntax and a subordinator in CGEL. Analyzing it as an auxiliary verb isn't appropriate and necessary.

——Victor Bob (talk) 00:18, 4 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It is by no means obvious that they are heads. Have a look at Noun Phrases versus Determiner Phrases, for instance. Brett (talk) 14:01, 4 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you for the above link, Prof. Brett. The footnote 13 on page 14 of that paper says conversely, other languages, like Chinese, have NPs that have a semantic type that allows them to refer directly, making items with the determiner function superfluous. Such languages require neither determinatives nor DPs., which is still to be considered carefully.

Let's suppose I see a person holding five books, and I say to him in Chinese 你有五本书,给我一本看看,可以吗? (You have five books. Can you show me one?), in which case, 五本书 corresponds to five books, and 一本 corresponds to one. And please consider the following sentences:

① Can you show me one book? (给我一本书看看,可以吗?)

①’ Can you show me one? (给我一本看看,可以吗?)

② Let's explore Chengdu! (我们来探索成都吧!)

②’ Let's explore! (我们来探索吧!)

It's said that one is a transitive determiner in ① while an intransitive one without any complement in ①’, just as the verb explore is transitive in ② but intransitive in ②’.

——Victor Bob (talk) 14:27, 4 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The claim in the footnote is not that Chinese never needs determiners. It is the claim that phrases such as 本 can be referring phrases, even without a determiner, while in languages like English they cannot. Brett (talk) 15:14, 4 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks to your prompt, I suddenly had a lot of inspiration. Now it's 11:33 p.m. A more detailed reply will be given tomorrow. Victor Bob (talk) 15:33, 4 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

On the one hand, the DP analysis does have many advantages. One of these is that we can sidestep the complexity of the fused-head analysis in CGEL.

Fused-head constructions are shown in square brackets as follows:

[This] is infuriating. (fusion of determiner and head)

I like [the taller of them]. (fusion of internal modifier and head)

I earn three times the amount Bill does, and Mary earns [double]. (fusion of predeterminer and head)

When we look on the determiners in bold in above sentences as pure heads, it follows naturally that these constituents in square brackets are DPs, which analysis is simpler than the fused-head analysis. See p.37 of English Grammar written by Richard Hudson in 1998 who is the founder of word grammar at

In the generative literature, linguists do recognise the existence of NP which, however, is dominated by the next higher DP, in the same way as they recognise the existence of VP which in turn is dominated by the next higher vP (both D and v are functional heads).

On the other hand, the NP analysis seems more tempting and indeed is adopted in many grammars. It is difficult to say which analysis is better.

——Victor Bob (talk) 05:26, 5 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If the DP analysis is rejected by such diverse luminaries as Chomsky and Huddleston, perhaps it's not so difficult to say. Note, also, that Abney never published his dissertation. Brett (talk) 12:27, 5 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The NP analysis is undoubtedly better in the framework of CGEL, and I believe it is indeed preferable to the DP hypothesis in minimalist syntax.

——Victor Bob (talk) 12:36, 5 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Descriptive versus Generative[change]

There is always a gap between descriptive grammar and generative grammar. Which one do you prefer?

——Victor Bob (talk) 14:55, 5 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As I've said, I'm no expert on generative syntax, but my general view is that it is a deeply and multifariously flawed research program. Rarely will I favour a generative analysis over the CGEL analysis when it comes to English. This is not to say that I think CGEL is infallible. I think, for instance that the coordination structure has a small inconsistency. I think more and less are always determinatives and never adverbs. I think their whole approach to gender is flawed. I think they overlook certain closed category words, and I wish they had been more explicit in analyzing certain structures like fronting/inversion. What, for instance, would be the structure of here are some emails? I don't think CGEL tells us. Brett (talk) 14:57, 5 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree with you, and I am inspired by your remarks, thank you so much, Prof. Brett. We've talked so many grammatical topics, and I have benefited form the discussion with you. My university teachers never teach me such fascinating syntactic analyses.

——Victor Bob (talk) 15:13, 5 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Last is a determiner (see especially in expressions like her last book, this last point, etc. in which the last has the same meaning as in expressions like last night, last Tuesday, etc.

——Victor Bob (talk) 23:08, 6 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes, it is. But mostly it's an adjective, so your moving the determiner entry to the top was not helpful. The words are presented in order of their most common uses. Brett (talk) 01:46, 7 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Note also that it can never be an adjective in A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (1985) and

——Victor Bob (talk) 01:51, 7 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

And does the CompGEL's justification for saying it can never be an adjective make any sense? Have you thought through the various pieces of evidence, both positive and negative, for the Adjective and non-adjective analyses?--Brett (talk) 02:10, 7 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
From the bottom of my heart, CGEL is definitely better than CoGEL. The analysis of last is reasonable in CGEL. Victor Bob (talk) 13:54, 8 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Adjunct versus Complement[change]

Hello, Prof. Brett, I have a question which seems confusing to me.

In I'm glad to see you back where you belong, what's the grammatical function of the fused relative PP?

——Victor Bob (talk) 07:45, 27 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's a tricky question, but I think it's best to analyze back as taking a locative complement. In 1973, Jackendoff argued that a number of PPs take PP complements. In particular, he argued that a from PP takes both an NP object and a to PP complement. What do you think about that?--Brett (talk) 12:55, 27 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It seems to me that back is a directional preposition modifier (cf. CGEL p. 645) but on the other hand, the fused relative PP seems to an appositive modifier. It's too confusing.——Victor Bob (talk) 13:25, 27 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think we have a structure like [back [PP]], for example [back [here]] or [back [in Canada]].--Brett (talk) 14:08, 27 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It sounds reasonable, thank you so much, Prof. Brett. Victor Bob (talk) 14:16, 27 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
By the way, I am wondering if the sentence We consider John as fond of syntax is grammatical, because this sentence is related to my Bachelor's Degree thesis. ——Victor Bob (talk) 14:21, 27 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
For me, it's ungrammatical. I would say We consider John fond... or We consider John to be fond..., but not the as PP.--Brett (talk) 16:45, 27 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Understood, thanks a lot. Victor Bob (talk) 23:39, 27 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

infinitival to[change]

Hello, Prof. Brett. Indeed, the infinitival to is analyzed as an auxiliary in the literature on Word Grammar.

Within the framework of Minimalist Syntax, the constituent following the infinitival to is a clause, not just a VP.

More specifically, infinitival to is a non-finite modal auxiliary verb. Then it is a catenative verb taking an infinitival clause as its complement.

A sentence like I hope to see you soon is actuaclly a construction containing three clauses: one main clause and two subordinate clauses.

——Victor Bob (talk) 05:00, 30 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi, Victor Bob,
There are very good reasons to think that to is a highly defective modal auxiliary verb. There are, however, two main related reasons why it is, nevertheless, not marked that way here. First, it's an extremely unintuitive idea, and many people would simply be confused if we marked it as a verb. Second, all the other category assignments here depend on CGEL, and this would contradict the CGEL analysis, so we'd have to point to papers like those I cited on Wikipedia in the article on English subordinators. And that's not great for a dictionary that's supposed to be simple. And so we have this compromise. --Brett (talk) 10:56, 30 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agreed. Thanks for your reply. ——Victor Bob (talk) 03:38, 1 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi, Prof. Brett,

There are two sentences which seem to me to contain the relative pronoun when:

The baby is due in May, by when the new house should be finished.

That was written in 1946, since when the education system has undergone great changes.

The word when in above examples seems to be a pronoun in its anaphoric use, but it also looks like a preposition as labelled in this Wiktionary.

——Victor Bob (talk) 06:01, 1 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Looks like a pronoun how: semantically, syntactically, or in some other way?--Brett (talk) 10:32, 1 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
For example, we cannot say by in May or since in 1946 and we can replace when in above sentences with which time.
——Victor Bob (talk) 11:32, 1 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Indeed, prototypical prepositions don't head PPs in complement function in a by phrase, but we can say by now, by then, and by around May 1. Conversely, when doesn't function as the complement of many other prepositions. If it were a pronoun, we'd expect *at when or *in when, but we don't find those. So, there may be something there, but you'd need a much more fleshed out case. You don't want to go revising things on the basis of a few constructions.--Brett (talk) 13:49, 1 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, I regard it as a deictic preposition and I do not change its category. ——Victor Bob (talk) 14:00, 1 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

are, were[change]

I noticed are was missing content, so I added the other forms that use it. Then I noticed that were has all the forms, but using a seemingly more simple explanation (is, am, and was also use this seemingly more simple explanation). However, maybe writing "first/second/third person" is actually easier for a new speaker of English. What do you think? Could you adjust either of these entries to what you think is better? Lights and freedom (talk) 04:25, 14 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you! I've aligned it with were. --Brett (talk) 13:32, 14 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

extraposed elements[change]

Hello, Prof. Brett. I am not sure whether extraposed subjects and extraposed objects are internal complements or not. They seem to be internal complements, in spite of the fact that in traditional grammer, they are regarded as external. What's your opinion?

——Victor Bob (talk) 14:08, 15 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We struggled with this, but you can see our decision here. --Brett (talk) 18:56, 15 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I note that in your PDF, there is a structural diagram for an extraposed subject in a sentence like It is hard to keep it up, where the infinitival clause is analysed as a complement to the VP is hard. In my opinion, the infinitival clause should be dependent on the adjective hard.

There is also a structural diagram on Supplemental Tree Diagrams of SIEG2 ( which has represented the structure of a sentence like It’s vital for him to keep us informed, in which the infinitival clause is construed as being an adjectival complement.

——Victor Bob (talk) 01:43, 18 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for this! It sounds like I made a mistake in the supplemental tree diagrams. Outside of the extraposed-subject construction, neither of these adjectives takes these complements, which is why we decided to put it in the VP rather than the AdjP. Consider the difference between extraposed It's hard to agree with that idea. which is equivalent to To agree with that idea is hard. and the complement in the AdjP in John is hard to agree with. What do you think? --Brett (talk) 11:11, 18 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

content clauses and infinitivals[change]

Hello, Prof. Brett. Recently I have read some papers and books relating to the function of content clauses and infinitivals. In short, within frameworks of TG, LFG and HPSG, infinitivals and content clauses are construed as being neither in Subject nor in Object function by lots of syntacticians working in those frameworks.

As we have discussed earlier, when content clauses and infinitivals function as VP-internal complement, they are of course not in Object function.

Although those syntacticians are in agreement with us on the non-object function of postverbal infinitivals and content clauses, they disagree with us on the function of subordinate clauses exemplified below, which for them are not in Subject function.

①That they passed did not surprise us.

②To turn back now would be a mistake.

More specifically, TG syntacticians think subordinate clauses in ① and ② are not Subjects (in their terms, Specifiers of TPs) but Specifiers of CPs; LFG or HPSG linguists regard them as Topics rather than Subjects.

———Victor Bob (talk) 05:26, 21 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think it's pretty clear that CGEL takes them to be in subject function, and not in prenucleus function.--Brett (talk) 10:26, 21 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm sorry that I don't explain it very clearly. What I mean is that under their view, to put their terms into CGEL terms, those subordinate clauses in ① and ② serve as Prenucleus (i.e. Specifier of CP= Topic= Prenucleus). I know that in CGEL they are taken as subjects.

---Victor Bob (talk) 11:44, 21 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Got it.--Brett (talk) 12:01, 21 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hello, Prof. Brett.

It seems to me that much is an adverb in sentences like Much as I would like to stay, I really must go home.

---Victor Bob (talk) 10:20, 3 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I see. Care to say more?--Brett (talk) 10:43, 3 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It seems that the prenuclear position before a nucleus as-PP cannot be filled by a determiner. In contrast, an adverb can readily be in the prenuclear position before an as-PP, as in Hard as he studied, he made little progress.

---Victor Bob (talk) 11:09, 3 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This would apply to little too. But I think the situation is simply that this construction is a shortening of as much as he studied..., and so you need a D that can be modified by the first as, and there just aren't many of those. I don't think it's sufficient basis on which to posit a new category for much and little.--Brett (talk) 12:00, 3 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Understood. But it then follows that more, which is the comparative form of much, seems also to be a determiner in sentences like Pat is more intelligent than Terry.

——Victor Bob (talk) 12:58, 3 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That is, in fact, my position. I'm presenting a paper at the end of the month (version in progress; comments welcome) at an event for Geoff Pullum, and if I can persuade him and John Payne, then I will change more and less to D only.--Brett (talk) 13:26, 3 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I also think that more and less are never adverbs.
So far as I know, there is another respectable grammarian, Andrew Radford, who agrees with us on the category of more and less.

——Victor Bob (talk) 02:15, 4 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That seems largely co-incidental. He also calls very a determiner.
By the way, could you make more use of the preview option, rather than making so many small edits one after the other on the same page?--Brett (talk) 10:46, 4 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm sorry. I'll try to use the preview button. By the way, will there be a second edition of CGEL? Many readers are looking forward to the publication of the new edition of that book; after all, the 2nd edition of SIEG has already been released recently, whose first edition was published in 2005.

——Victor Bob (talk) 11:05, 4 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No, there won't be a second edition of CGEL. Brett (talk) 11:52, 4 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hello, Prof. Brett. Long time no see. Do Pullum and Payne agree with us that much and less are never adverbs? Victor Bob [talk] 12:38, 8 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi! John says he is agnostic, and Geoff says we "may be right." :-) --Brett (talk) 13:11, 8 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Hello, Prof. Brett.

I notice that in SIEG2 the clause following lest is defined as a bare infinitival clause (p.36 lest you be in danger). But I think it is a content clause (more specifically, a subjunctive one).

——Victor Bob (talk) 08:47, 5 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes, that's a mistake. Thank you!--Brett (talk) 16:24, 5 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Hi, Prof. Brett. I note that anybody is labelled by Huddleston as a pronoun in his 1984 book but later as a determinative. Since the root of anybody is nominal, perhaps an N categorial label would be preferable.

——Victor Bob (talk) 15:23, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No, I don't think it would. Brett (talk) 17:17, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

some adverbs in SIEG2[change]

On p.221 of SIEG2, besides, instead, then are taken as adverbs, but in this Simple Wiktionary, they have only one part of speech, i.e. P. As for though, it has almost the same meaning as notwithstanding which can also be used independently and is solely a preposition. Victor Bob (talk) 13:25, 24 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well spotted! Again, I don't have time to look into this today, but I encourage you do to so.--Brett (talk) 13:37, 24 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
On p.214 of SIEG2, very much and enough are viewed as AdvPs, but I think they are DPs. ——Victor Bob [talk] 03:38, 25 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hello, Prof. Reynolds. Here is the detailed discussion on why for is never a subordinator. Although I agree with Bas Aarts on its prepositional status, it seems that for only takes a single NP as complement, rather than licensing a clause, as argued by him.

---Victor Bob [talk] 03:10, 22 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Why do you think that preprint from four years ago hasn't been published?--Brett (talk) 10:51, 22 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't know but Hudson in his WG framework and Emonds in his book A Unified Theory of Syntactic Categories (1985) also defend the prepositional status of infinitival for.

--Victor Bob [talk] 00:33, 23 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

How does such an analysis deal with examples like there was no need for her to be there?--Brett (talk) 15:39, 23 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
First, the expression her to be there is taken as a clause in CGEL but this expression seems not to be a constituent at all.
Second, for her is a PP licensed by the prepositional verb to.
Third, there is no overt subject of to.
In short, for is a grammaticised preposition. Victor Bob [talk] 10:22, 29 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Don't know if you remember but are we still giving simplewiki admins adminship here on wikt if they ask for it? Just for xwiki stuff, which I know is fairly rare but just in case, Thx fr33kman t - c 16:15, 27 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Is it plausible to analyse anywhere in He's never been anywhere outside Britain as a preposition? Victor Bob [talk] 09:42, 5 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What would be the evidence and counter evidence?--Brett (talk) 11:54, 5 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It is in locative complement function and so qualifies as an intransitive preposition. As for the counter evedidence, it seems to be postmodified by outside Britain, which is typical of a nominal, instead of a preposition. What do you think?

--Victor Bob [talk] 12:31, 5 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes, similarly, in they headed somewhere. I think the complement can fit within a nominal within a fused-head PP, but not sure what it would look like. Any thoughts?--Brett (talk) 12:58, 5 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It has the same distribution as a prototypical PP in terms of its external syntax but it can also contain an internal modifier, as in They headed somewhere interesting. Thus its syntactic behavior is highly exceptional. It therefore seems to be very hard to diagram the internal structure of somewhere interesting. Victor Bob [talk] 14:00, 5 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
On the other hand, it has the same distribution as some place.--Brett (talk) 22:49, 5 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

New thoughts[change]

Hello, Prof. Reynolds. Today I find two sentences that seem to be able to reveal the exact category of where and its related compound words.

① Where can I hide that isn't too obvious?

② I like to go somewhere warm on vacation.

There is no doubt that where in ① is modified by a relative clause and somewhere in ② is modified by an AdjP. However, if we follow CGEL, where in ① is a preposition but somewhere in ② is a determinative.

As we all know, it is typical of a nominal to take internal modifiers expressed as relative clauses or AdjPs. Well, now we have at least three categories that can be modified by relative clauses or AdjPs. That is, Nominals, Prepositions, and Determinatives. Since a preposition can be modified by a relative clause, as shown in ①, why don't we just take somewhere in ② as a preposition too, given that a preposition can take various kinds of modifier?

Or, maybe where and somewhere are just pronouns which project into nominals in the above cases. And this is the opinion holded by Andrew Radford, a respectable syntactician working in the framework of Minimalist Syntax.

--Victor Bob [talk] 00:44, 7 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

These are nice pieces of data, but Where can I hide that isn't too obvious? is related to the interrogative of something like I can hide in a place that isn't too obvious. The relative clause is inside a nominal there; it's not *I can hide where that isn't too obvious.--Brett (talk) 12:33, 7 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I see. In addition, compare also:
Sit wherever you like.
Sit anywhere you like.
CGEL assigns two distinct categories to the italicised words above, which seems to be an unnecessary complication.

--Victor Bob [talk] 13:24, 7 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A complication, yes, but a necessary one, I think.--Brett (talk) 22:12, 7 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

In a sentence like This is where I live, the word where is analysed as a preposition in CGEL, and it is in Head function within the fused relative. But the category of the fused relative is an NP rather than a PP projected by the Head preposition where.

So, this is a piece of evidence against the prepositional status of where.

--Victor Bob [talk] 12:41, 8 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Hi, Victor Bob,
There are very good reasons to think that to is a highly defective modal auxiliary verb.

It is you who says that it is a modal. Victor Bob [talk] 03:33, 9 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

My mistake. I should have said "modal verb".--Brett (talk) 13:24, 9 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Dear Brett, so can I add modal to to?
In addition, your edits on modal verb, that is, you don't think modals are auxiliaries, seem to be conflicting with SIEG2 p.50. Victor Bob [talk] 13:32, 9 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Modal refers to the semantics of the verb. Auxiliary refers to its syntax. If to is a verb, it is an auxiliary, but whether it is a verb or not, it has no modal semantics. Most modal verbs are auxiliary verbs, but a verb like oblige is a modal lexical verb. Conversely, some auxiliary verbs like have are not modal.--Brett (talk) 16:12, 9 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Got it. Thank you very much! By the way, I note that shouldn't is taken to be a word, rather than a contraction composed of two words. Any thoughts? Victor Bob [talk] 02:12, 10 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, the entry for shouldn't and all the other negative forms is correct.--Brett (talk) 11:47, 10 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agreed. -- Victor Bob [talk] 11:56, 10 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The word such in such as is categorised as an adjective here, but this word is predicandless, just like a typical preposition. Furthermore, it doesn't inflect for grade. That said, we seem to allow an adjective to be predicandless. Hence, words like prior, previous, pursuant, and so on appear to be more like adjectives, albeit predicandless.

--Victor Bob [talk] 04:29, 19 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm not sure I follow. I can't think of a way to use such as... as a predicative complement – there, it would be such that... – so I'm not sure how to evaluate whether it has a predicand. As a preposition, we'd expect examples like: *Such as dogs and cats, pets often live in out homes. Clearly, that's no good.--Brett (talk) 11:59, 19 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, now it seems to me that it's an adjective. Victor Bob [talk] 12:13, 19 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

catenative-auxiliary analysis[change]

Hello, Prof. Reynolds. In CGEL, catenatives are always those verbs which license non-finites. Auxiliary verbs are also catenatives, which means they're main verbs in Head function with the following non-finite clauses as complements. For example, in She can leave right now, leave right now is an infinitival clause. Well, I wanna know why CGEL recognizes it as a clause rather than a VP. (I guess CGEL holds the view that she is a raised subject originating as the infinitival subject but I'm not very sure.)

Victor Bob [talk] 13:54, 22 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

My understanding is that it's to accommodate cases like We had planned for them to leave at 6:00.--Brett (talk) 13:01, 23 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

degree determinatives[change]

Hello, Prof. Brett. I have changed the category of more and less to Determiner only. Could you please further optimize those two entries? Thank you very much! Victor Bob [talk] 10:08, 2 December 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

When followed by a singular count noun, it seems to be definite and non-specific, whereas the is always definite and specific. Victor Bob [talk] 14:16, 2 December 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

yes, I think that's right.--Brett (talk) 17:05, 2 December 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]


It can indeed be used as a subordinator. See Andrew Radford, Relative clauses: Structure and variation in everyday English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019. p. 88. Victor Bob [talk] 12:14, 4 December 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No, it can't. See CGEL.--Brett (talk) 17:37, 4 December 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Request to Undelete Kourage Beatz NSI[change]

I have been paid to edit Kourage Beatz NSI so that I can edit this page as it should. I understand that the user to publish the page himself and failed. So I'm asking that you give Kourage Beatz NSI page another chance to be properly edited because after my research I found out that the person is a popular record producer in Nigeria and have won notable career awards and article about this should be added to Wikipedia. Ayolaba (talk) 08:37, 5 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This user is reported to WT:AN. MathXplore (talk) 08:49, 5 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Another two mistakes in SIEG2[change]

Hello, Prof. Brett. There seem to be two mistakes in the Answer Guide of SIEG2.

SIEG2 's Answer Guide p. 22

The expression if he'll be safe is an interrogative content clause, not a conditional PP. And whatever you say is not an NP but rather an open interrogative clause.

-- Victor Bob [talk] 09:36, 13 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks, Victor Bob! I really appreciate your finding and pointing out these errors. Brett (talk) 14:19, 14 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

English Teacher's Guide[change]

Hello, Prof Reynolds. How's it going? 龙年大吉,新春快乐,财运滚滚!Happy Chinese New Year! I am also looking forward to the publication of your book. Victor Bob [talk] 12:53, 18 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks, Victor Bob! Happy Chinese New Year! to you too! The book's publication is quite a long way off, still, but I appreciate your interest. Do you want to email me your real name so that I can acknowledge your help? Brett (talk) 21:07, 18 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have emailed you. Victor Bob [talk] 02:13, 19 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]