English syntax.

  1. Business English communication skills
  2. Classification of English consonants according to the manner of articulation. Mistakes typical of Russian learners of English and way of correcting them.
  3. English phraseology.
  4. English-english
  5. French and Scandinavian Borrowings in English
  6. Historical periods and approaches to the chronological divisions in the history of English.
  7. Latin Borrowings in Old English
  8. Middle English


OE was largely a synthetic language; it possessed a system of grammatical forms which could indicate the connection between words; consequently, the functional load of syntactic ways of word connection was relatively small. It was primarily a spoken language, therefore the written forms of the language resembled oral speech. Consequently, the syntax of the sentence was relatively simple; complicated syntactical constructions were rare.

The Phrase. Noun, Adjective and Verb Patterns

The syntactic structure of a language can be described at the level of the phrase and at the level of the sentence. In OE texts we find a variety of word phrases (also: word groups or patterns). OE noun patterns, adjective patterns and verb patterns had certain specific features which are important to note in view of their later changes.

A noun pattern consisted of a noun as the head word and pronouns, adjectives (including verbal adjectives, or participles), numerals and other nouns as determiners and attributes. Most noun modifiers agreed with the noun in gender, number and case, Infinitives and participles were often used in verb phrases

The Simple Sentence

The structure of the OE sentence can be described in terms of Mod E syntactic analysis, for the sentence was made up of the same parts, except that those parts were usually simpler. Attributive groups were short and among the parts of the sentence there were very few predicative constructions ("syntactical complexes"). Absolute constructions with the noun in the Dat. case were sometimes used in translations from Latin in imitation oF the Latin Dativus Absolutus. The objective predicative construction "Accusative with the Infinitive" occurred in original OE texts:

The connection between the parts of the sentence was shown by the form of the words as they had formal markers for gender, case, number and Person. As compared with later periods agreement and government played an important role in the word phrase and in the sentence. Accordingly the place of the word in relation to other words was of secondary importance and the order of words was relatively free

The presence of formal markers made it possible to miss out some parts of the sentence which would be obligatory in an English sentence now. In the following instance the subject is not repeated but the form of the predicate shows that the action is performed by the same person as the preceding action:

One of the conspicuous features of OE syntax was multiple negation within a single sentence or clause. The most common negative particle was ne, which was placed before the verb; it was often accompanied by other negative words, mostly naht or noht {which had developed from ne plus d-wikt 'no thing'). These words reinforced the meaning of negation:

Another peculiarity of OE negation was that the particle ne could be attached to some verbs, pronouns and adverbs to form single words:

Compound and Complex Sentences. Connectives

Compound and complex sentences existed in the English language since the earliest times. Even in the oldest texts we find numerous instances of coordination and subordination and a large inventory of subordinate clauses, subject clauses, object clauses, attributive clauses,

Coordinate clauses were mostly Joined by and, a conjunction of a most general meaning, which could connect statements with various semantic relations.

Repetition of connectives at the head of each clause (termed "correlation") was common in complex sentences:

Attributive clauses were joined to the principal clauses by means of various connectives, there being no special class of relative pronouns. The main connective was the indeclinable particle pe employed either alone or together with demonstrative and personal pronouns:

The pronouns could also be used to join the clauses without the particle pe:

Word Order

The order of words in the OE sentence was relatively free. The position of words in the sentence was often determined by logical and stylistic factors rather than by grammatical constraints.

The order of words could depend on the communicative type of the sentence question versus statement, on the type of clause, on the presence and place of some secondary parts of the sentence.

Inversion was used for grammatical purposes in questions; full inversion with simple predicates and partial with compound predicates, containing link-verbs and modal verbs:

A peculiar type of word order is found in many subordinate and in some coordinate clauses: the clause begins with the subject following 'be connective, and ends with the predicate or its finite part, all the secondary parts being enclosed between them

Different types of word order couid be used in similar syntactical conditions. It appears that in many respects OE syntax was characterised by a wide range of variation and by the co-existence of various, sometimes even opposing, tendencies

ME Syntax The structure of the sentence and the word phrase, on the one hand, became more complicated, or. the other hand were stabilised and standardised.

The Phrase. Noun, Adjective and Verb Patterns

In Early ME while the nominal parts of speech were losing most of their grammatical distinctions, the structure of the main word phrases with nouns, adjectives, and verbs as head-words was considerably changed.

In OE the dependent components of noun patterns agreed with the noun in case, number and gender, By Late ME agreement in noun patterns had practically disappeared, except for some instances of agreement in number.

In the age of the literary Renaissance, the noun patterns became fixed syntactic frames in which every position had a specific functional significance

With the growth of the written language noun patterns became more varied and more extended. Attributes to nouns could contain prepositional phrases with other attributes:

In Early NE noun patterns began to include syntactic complexes; predicative constructions with the Gerund and the Infinitive

In ME and Early NE adjective patterns, as before, included a variety of dependent components. Adjectives were commonly modified by adverbs. Verbs used with prepositions.

The Simple Sentence

In the course of history the structure of the simple sentence in many respects became more orderly and more uniform. Yet, at the same time it grew complicated as the sentence came to include more extended and complex parts: longer attributive groups, diverse subjects and predicates and numerous predicative constructions (syntactic complexes).

In OE the ties between the words in the sentence were shown mainly by means of government and agreement, with the help of numerous inflections. In ME and Early NE, with most of the inflectional endings levelled or dropped, the relationships between the parts of the sentence were shown by their relative position, environment, semantic ties, prepositions, and by a more rigid syntactic structure.

One of the peculiar features of the OE sentence was multiple negation. The use of several negative particles and forms continued throughout the ME period, (-ne- is a negative partic> used with verbs, nat another negative particle,.)gradually double negation went out of use. In the age of Correctness the normalising 18th c. multiple negation was banned as illogical

Word Order

In ME and Early NE the order of words in the sentence underwent noticeable changes: it has become fixed and direct: subject plus predicate plus object (S4-P+0) or subject plus the notional part of the predicate (the latter type was used mainly in questions).

Stabilisation of the word order was a slow process, which took many hundreds of years. The fixation of the word order proceeded together with reduction and loss of inflectional endings, the two developments being intertwined; though syntactic changes were less intensive and less rapid.

Compound and Complex Sentences

The growth of the written forms of English, and the advance of literature in Late ME and Early NE manifested itself, among other changes, in the further development of the compound and complex sentence. Differentiation between the two types became more evident, the use oi connectives more precise.

Many new conjunctions and other connective words appeared during the ME period: both...and, a coordinating conjunction, was made up of a borrowed Scandinavian dual adjective bath and the native and; because, a subordinating conjunction, was a hybrid consisting ot the native English preposition by and a borrowed Latin noun, cause (by+cause 'for the reason'); numerous connectives developed fiom adverbs and pronouns who, what, which, where, whose, how, why.

The structure of the sentence was further perfected in the 18th and 19th c. It suffices to say that from the 15th to 18th c. the number of coordinating connectives was almost doubled. As before, most conspicuous was the frequent use of and, a conjunction of a most general meaning; other conjunctions widened their meanings and new connetives arose from various sources to express the subtle semantic relationships between clauses and sentences

Borrowed Prefixes

In Late ME, and in Early NE new prefixes began to be employed in word derivation in English: French, Latin, and Greek. Foreign prefixes were adopted by the English language

Through analogy, foreign prefixes began to be employed in derivation with other roots, both foreign and native. (French re-, de- and dis- of Romance origin: destructive decresen, disbelieve, dislike; )

Most of the prefixes of Franco-Latin origin found their way into English in Late ME or in Early NE periods. The earliest derivatives formed with their help in the English language date from the 15th c; in the 16th and 17th c. their productivity grew.

The adjectival prefix in- was one of many ME prefixes of negative meaning; native mis-, un-, borrowed -. They produced numerous synonyms recorded in the English texts from the 14th to the 16th c: unpleasant, displeasant; unpossible, impossible; disable, unable, non-able; unfirm, infirm. The negative prefix - of Franco-Latin origin developed into a highly productive English prefix freely applied both to adjectives and nouns

A number of new prefixes employed since the 17th c. had entered the language in numerous classical borrowings Latin and Greek. Since most of the classical loan-words belonged to the sphere of science, philosophy and literature, the use of new prefixes was confined to these spheres. Within these spheres many Greek and Latin prefixes have become highly productive. anli-; - (L) coexist,; ex- (L) ex-champion, ex-president; extra- (I.) , extra-ordinary; post- post-position, , pre- (L) pre-classicat, pre-writlen; semi- (L) semi-circle, semi-officia

Borrowed Suffixes

Borrowed suffixes came to occupy an important place in English word derivation. Like prefixes, borrowed suffixes entered the English language with the two biggest waves of loan-words: French in ME and classical loans in Early NE- . French loan-words with the suffix -able

Borrowed suffixes were used to form different parts of speech: nouns, adjectives and verbs. Many suffixes had similar functions and meaning and were synonymous with native suffixes.

In Late ME and Early NE several borrowed suffixes began to be used in forming nomina agentis. The French suffix -ess produced many derivatives in ME, The suffix -or (from Fr) e.g. collector, educator. The suffixes adopted as components of classical borrowings in Early NE -ist, -ite came to be used as means of derivation some time later. They combine with foreign stems and yield such modern words as columnist, capitalist, structuralist

Borrowed noun-suffixes include a large group of suffixes of abstract nouns -ance -ttj, -age, -ry, -ment. to these French suffixes we should add Fran-Co-Latin -tton/-sion and Latin or Greek -ism.

Borrowed adjective suffixes were less numerous than noun suffixes, perhaps because native suffixes were very productive,

Borrowed verb suffixes were few, but two of them -ise and fy became highly productive in some spheres of written English political, scientific and the like.. memorise, militarise, classify,

The high frequency ol the affixes in the sphere of terminology, and the derivation ot new terms with their help in present-day English, is sufficient proof of their complete assimilation and productivity.


Conversion was a new method of word derivation which arose in Late ME and grew into a most productive, specifically English way of creating new words. Conversion is effected through a change in the meaning, the grammatical paradigm and the syntactic use of the word in the sentence. The word is transformed into another part of speech with an identical initial form, e.g. NE house n and house v.

The growth of conversion is accounted for by grammatical and lexical changes during the ME period; reduction of endings and suffixes and the simplification of the morphological structure of the word. After the loss of endings and

Conversion was particularly productive in the Early NE In present-day English conversion has grown into one of the most productive ways of word-building, accounting for the free transformation of nouns into verbs and verbs into nouns through a change in their syntactic position.

Many compound words recorded in DE texts went out of use in ME. Numerous compound nouns used in OE poetry died out together with the genre. In ME word compounding was less productive than in the OE period but in Early NE its productivity grew, together with other ways of word formation. As before, compounding was more characteristic of nouns and adjectives than of verbs.

: 2015-04-21; : 26;

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Verbals in the history of English | Old English Vocabulary
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