Sample Trees from last homework assignment
Chapter 6 Tree
Chapter 7 Tree
XBar Theory: Complements and adjuncts
We assume the following PS-rules (phrase-structure rules):
Read N' as N-bar.
- NP => (D) N'
- N' => N' PP (Adjunct rule)
- N' => N PP (Complement rule)
The first thing these rules do is claim that there is a constituent
intermediate between an NP and lexical N. This will be a constituent
containing the head noun and its modifiers,
the italicized sequences in
the following NPs.
So far we only have rules for PP modifiers. Rules for other
types of modifiers will be given below.
- the king of France
- the yellow bird
- the letter carrier
- the unattractive hippotamus in the living room
The other thing the 3 PS-rules do is distinguish between three kinds
of PP modifiers, Specifier, complements and adjuncts.
Here are some examples to motivate the distinction:
There is a semantic intuition here which is not always
clear but can roughly described as follows. The adjunct
and the noun express two distinct properties of the individual
described. It can be paraphrased in two separate clauses:
- specifier: the student
- complement: the student of physics
- adjunct: the student with red hair
The complement and the noun function together to express one property,
which can be expressed in one clause, and not in two:
- He is a student and he has red hair.
This semantic intuition is not very solid and the more you think
about it, the slipperier it gets. We are going to rely
on some syntactic tests to back the intuition up.
- He studies physics.
- * He is a student and he is of physics.
In determing whether a modifier is a complement or adjunct remember the following:
When asked to produce an argument that something is
a complement or an adjunct, you are being asked to apply
some of the tests below, not to report your intuition about
whether one property or two is being attributed.
It is also bad form, when asked to produce an argument that something is
a complement or an adjunct, to draw a tree like the tree in Figure 1 and
say "of physics is a complement because it is sister to
the lexical head N". The
tree in Figure 1 is a technical way to notate the claim that something
is a complement. It is not an argument. You could also draw the tree
And this would make the competing claim that of physics
is an adjunct. When you are asked to produce arguments that something
is a complement or an adjunct, you are being asked to decide
WHICH tree is the right tree, and then produce evidence that
it is the right tree. Drawing the tree is not one of the arguments;
it's what you're arguing for.
Note: the notions complement and adjunct are
both relational. A modifier is
a complement of some head. The first decision to make
in arguing that something is a complement is to decide
what head it is the complement of. Some of the tests below
only work when the head is of a particular category. For example,
one- replacement is only relevant when the head is a noun.
do so replacement only works when the head is a verb.
Preposing only works when the head is a verb.
- The tests you use and the
examples you produce must be discriminating.
They should produce one result when applied to a complement and a
distinct result when applied to an adjunct. Make sure you know which
result correlates with which outcome and say that in your explanation
of the test result. You can be compact, present 3 example
sentences, and say "All these results
are evidence that X is a complement," but if the results are split,
you MUST say which result points to complementhood, which to aduncthood.
- Use minimal pairs whenever possible. For example, when applying
the reordering test below, show both orders, thus demonstrating that any
ungrammatical sentence you produce has no problems independent of the reordering.
When using the obligatoriness test, always give one example with the
modifier claimed to be obligatory, and one without. And so on.
- The property you are determining in performing adjunct/complement
tests is a lexical property of the head word. This
will become more clear in Chapter 8. That means it is a property
of the head word when it has a particular meaning. In constructing
examples you must never change the head word and you must never change
the head word's meaning. And the syntactic category,
and semantic relation of the modifier
to the head word should remain fixed. As a consequence, if the
modifier is a prepositional phrase, the preposition should
not be changed, because that almost always affects the semantic
relation. The purpose of the initial example, then,
is to fix the head word, the meaning, the semantic relation,
and the category of the complement. Almost everything else
can be changed (and should be, in the service of producing
a good example).
- Initial example: I had an argument with a colleague.
- Head word: argument Modifier: with a colleague
- Relevant example: I had forgotten about our argument with the IRS. (same head, semantic relation)
- Irrelevant example: I had an argument about a colleague. (different semantic relation)
- Irrelevant example: I gave her an argument with an agenda. (different semantic relation. The agenda is something the argument possesses,
the colleague is your opponent in the argument. The agenda is not the opponent
in the argument and the argument does not possess a colleague.)
We introduce a set of tests for the complement/adjunct distinction.
As a set of properties that all converge on making the same
distinction they constitute an argument for it. Some of them
are also simple predictions that follow directly from making this
If you look closely at the complement and adjunct rules
you will see that in any tree containing both a complement and an
adjunct, the complement must always occur closer to the noun.
This predicts the following facts:
Consider another example.
- a student of physics with red hair
- * student with red hair of physics
Let's test whether in Switzerland is a complement
or an adjunct, given the little we know so far.
- John's desire for justice
The second NP is certainly more marked, so we have
some evidence for the claim that
for justice is a complement.
- John's desire for justice in Switzerland
- ? John's desire in Switzerland for justice
The adjunct rule has the interesting property that it can be applied any
number of times. It has an N' as both the mother and the daughter.
In contrast, the Complement rule can only be applied once:
- the boy with red hair
- the boy with red hair with long arms
- the boy with long arms with red hair
- the boy with red hair with long arms in the den
- * the student of physics of astronomy
Note: Do not confuse this with the claim that there can only be one complement.
This is wrong:
There are clearly verbs that take two obligatory complements, which
must both be sisters to the lexical head:
- John handed Mary the ball.
- * John handed Mary.
- * John handed the ball.
This is not two applications of the complement rule. It is
one application of a single rule that allows two complements:
V' -> V NP NP
But only some heads, like hand, are eligible for this
rule. The noun student is clearly not one of them.
Note: The following test involves replacing an Nbar with
one. It is only relevant when the head
is a noun.
One is an anaphoric element that seems to be able to take
an entire N-bar as its antecedent.
- Bill has a yellow car with green racing stripes. Sue wants
a blue one. (one = car with green racing stripes)
We see the following contrast
- The student with red hair was smarter than the one with blue hair.
- * The student of astronomy was smarter than the one of biology.
This works just like one- replacement only it is for
use when the head is a V instead of an N.
do so replace V's, just as one replaces
The italicized words are what do so replaces in each sentence,
and the fact that it replaces dance successfully is evidence that
dance is a V', and therefore that on the stairs
is an adjunct. Meanwhile the fact that
do so cannot replace relied successfully is evidence that
relied is not a V', and therefore that on Mary
is an adjunct.
- * John relied on Mary, and Fred did so on Sue.
- John danced on the stairs and Sue did so on the stage,
We can coordinate adjuncts with adjuncts and complements
But we cannot mix.
- The student with red hair and with green eyes was quite striking.
- A student of astronomy and of physics must be smart.
Something bogus about this test? Yes, many things can go
wrong. But you are allowed to use it. Notice, coordination
of likes with likes is grammatical for both complements and
adjuncts. So the test only tells us something
when we get an ungrammatical result. And what that
ungrammaticality tells us is that the two modifiers are unlike.
We then need the further assumption that one of them is an adjunct
to conclude the other is a complement.
- * The student with red hair and of physics
So far we've talked about predictions made
by our structural assumptions. Now we just point to
a syntactic fact that seems to be sensistive to
our complement/adjunct distinction,
without being able to say exactly why
Notice the first example is ambiguous. It either
means (a) that John's decision took place on
the boat, or (b) that of two alternatives John was
considering (say, a boat or a coat hanger), John chose
the boat-alternative. The second example
has only the (a) reading. We usually explain this
by saying that on reading (b) the PP on the boat
is a complement, and that verbs dont like having their complement
PPs preposed. This is a well-accepted tets, but it
only works reliably for verb heads and PP modifiers.
Don't use it in other circumstances.
- John decided on the boat.
- On the boat, John decided.
In the theory developed in Chapter 8 it will become clear
that ONLY complements can be obligatory. There will
simply be no way to say that an adjunct is obligatory.
Therefore it can be argued that all of the following modifiers
This argument may be used for heads of any category (notice
the adjectival head familiar), but
obligatoriness most often arises with verbal heads.
- John gazed at/upon Mary.
- * John gazed.
- The book belonged to Mary.
- * The book belonged.
- John often resorted to flattery.
- * John often resorted.
- The purser reported to the first mate. (means: has as immediate supervisor)
- The purser reported. (meaning change)
- John doted on Mary.
- * John doted.
- John relied on Mary.
- * John relied.
- John was familiar with plate tectonics.
- John was familiar. (meaning change)
- John worded the letter with great care.
- * John worded the letter.
Notice the implication is valid in only ONE direction.
If something is optional:
We cannot say whether it is a complement or an adjunct.
- John ate beans.
- John ate.
Our textbook says that "all" PP complements are marked
As the list of examples under Obligatoriness
above shows, this is wrong.
Ignore this statement and never use it in an argument.
On pain of excommunication.
I'm not sure what he was thinking. Perhaps
he meant: Almost all PPs marked with
of are complements. This is a lot closer
to true. But notice the almost,
The ruling here: Dont use the identity of the
preposition, of or otherwise, as an argument.
It is an unreliable indicator at best.
A Complicated tree from the homework
7 k from 194 (Ch. 6)
The same tree in the theory of Ch. 7
Complements and adjuncts prenominally
We have the following order facts for some prenominal NP modifers.
Again we see a distinction in order, and we see
the same semantic relation that we saw filled
by an of-phrase filled by a prenominal NP. That is,
the following are paraphrases:
- the Cambridge physics student
- * the physics Cambridge student
A movement account is possibly right!
- the physics student
- the student of physics
Other complement/adjunct tests agree, all pointing toward complementhood
of Physics in physics student
and the adjuncthood of Oxford in Oxford student
- A Cambridge high quality middle class student
- * A physics astronomy student (cannot mean
a physics and astronomy student)
- Free order with other prenominal modifiers
- A high quality Cambridge middle class student
- * A high quality physics middle class student
- Several Cambridge and Oxford students
- Several physics and astronomy students
- * Several Cambridge and astronomy students
- * The physics student was way smarter than the
- The Cambridge student was way smarter than the