Thursday, April 21, 2011


Pronouns are words which can replace nouns and pronouns. Pronouns and nouns belong to a class of words called substantives. They are used to make sentences less repetitive. Grammarians classify pronouns into several types which include personal, demonstrative, indefinite, interrogative, relative, reflexive and intensive.

Personal pronouns can be further divided into subject, object and possessive pronouns. The subject pronouns are pronouns such as "I" and "they." Object pronouns are pronouns such as "We" and "them." Possessive pronouns include pronouns such as "mine" and "theirs."

The demonstrative pronouns include words such as "this" and "that." Instead of saying "this pen," it is possible to say "this."

Indefinite pronouns are pronouns such as "everyone," "anything" and "another." In certain cases, they can also function as adjectives. For example, in the sentence "I need another coffee," the word "another" is an adjective.

Interrogative pronouns are pronouns used in questions. Examples of interrogative pronouns include "what," "where," "why" and "when." They are also called wh-words. One interrogative pronoun which does not begin with wh but is nevertheless called a wh-word is "how."

Relative pronouns are found in relative clauses. They include pronouns such as "who" and "which." In the sentence, "I know the woman who wrote this article," the word "who" is a relative pronoun.

Reflexive pronouns include pronouns such as "myself" and "themselves." In the sentence "I often remind myself to go to bed early," "myself" is a reflexive pronoun.

Intensive pronouns are identical in form to reflexive pronouns, but they have a different function. In the sentence "The Prime Minister himself invited me to the celebration," "himself" is an intensive pronoun. It emphasizes the subject "Prime Minister." They can also be used to replace another pronoun as in, "He himself invited me."

Pronouns are very useful parts of speech. They are often used to replace nouns and pronouns. In fact, the personal pronoun "I" is one of the most common words in the English language.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Brackets in Syntax

Syntax often uses trees to represent sentence structures. However, brackets are also used. Though trees are more popular, many syntacticians also use brackets, especially to represent short sentences.

Here are two examples to illustrate:


The sentence "Diana loves syntax" has four brackets at the end. One is for the noun "syntax." The next one to the right is for the NP "syntax." The next one to the right is for the VP "loves syntax" and the last one is for the sentence "Diana loves syntax."


The sentence "My aunt is at the game" has six brackets at the end. One is for the noun "game." The next one to the right is for the NP "game." The next one to the right is for the NP "the game." The fourth bracket is for the PP "at the game." The fifth bracket is for the VP "is at the game" and the final bracket is for the sentence "My aunt is at the game." Given that a short sentence such as this one ends with six brackets, longer sentences can end with far more.

Brackets are most often used in syntax for short and simple sentences. The large number of brackets necessary for long sentences makes them less popular than trees. Nevertheless, brackets continue to be used to represent syntactic structures.

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