Finding common nouns and determiners

January 8, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Arts & Humanities, Writing, Grammar
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Thinking about word classes Finding common nouns and determiners (Part of Dick Hudson's web tutorial on Word Grammar)

Some general principles • Always start with the easy words – the ones you feel most confident about classifying. • Think globally – choose analyses for each word which make sense in terms of the neighbouring words as well. • If in doubt, check the WG Encyclopedia.

The sentence to be analysed “This short sentence contains a verb.” • Task 1: find all the common nouns. • A test frame for common nouns: “the __.” – i.e. if it’s a common noun, you can use it between the and the end of the sentence.

Results “This short sentence contains a verb.” • …. the this. – NO!

• …. the short. – NO!

• …. the sentence. – YES! e.g. I’m analysing the sentence.

• …. the contains. – NO!

• …. the a. – NO!

• …. the verb. – YES! e.g. I’ve found the verb.

Record the results This short sentence contains a verb. N N • Technical point: – To locate the N’s under the right words, use either tabs or the space-bar.

Find the determiners Reminder: • A ‘determiner’ is really a pronoun (n) that stands before a common noun (N). • The determiner is grammatically necessary if the common noun is: – singular and – countable (i.e. names a countable unit).

How to find a determiner • Find a common noun (N). • Test whether N is – singular (no {s}) – and countable (could have {s}) – but beware of irregular plurals (e.g. feet)

• If it is, find the word just before it that can’t be omitted.

Results (1) “This short sentence contains a verb.” N N • Test sentence: – is it singular? YES – is it countable? YES (evidence: sentences)

• Which word before it can’t be omitted?

– This: can’t be omitted (*Short sentence …) – short: can be omitted (This sentence …)

Results (2) “This short sentence contains a verb.” n N N • Test verb: – is it singular? YES – is it countable? YES (evidence: verbs)

• Which word before it can’t be omitted? – a: can’t be omitted (*Short sentence …) – contains: not a candidate for determiner!!!

Conclusion “This short sentence contains a verb.” n N n N • Tests are helpful if you’re not certain. • But any test, however mechanical, needs thought and sensitivity – e.g. don’t decide that contains is a determiner!

• With practice tests become automatic.

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