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Exercise 2.

1
Discuss the grammatical properties and categorical status of the highlighted words in
each of the following examples, giving arguments in support of your analysis.

1a. Nobody need/dare say anything

In the above example, the main problem is whether the italicized items are acting as verbs or
auxiliaries. The verb shows an action whereas an auxiliary adds a functional or grammatical
meaning to the clause in which it appears in order to express aspect, tense, voice or modality. In
this sense, there is another category of modal verbs like can, could, must, will, shall, may, might,
have to, used to and ought to etc. which indicate a possibility, necessity or emphasis. As the
action in this example is ‘say’ which is the base form of verb indicating that no inflection has
been added to it, therefore, ‘need/dare’ seem to have the status of (modal) auxiliaries as they are
followed by bare infinitival complement (but lacking the infinitival particle ‘to’).

b. Nobody needs/dares to ask questions

In this example, contrary to the above one, the italicized items are followed by infinitival
complement and are acting as the main verbs because the inflection ‘-s’ is added to them which
indicates that the present form of verb has been used. Inflection like ‘-s’ is only used with plural
nouns like books, tables, chairs and verbs like puts, says, talks, listens etc. Moreover,
‘needs/dares’ is a verb in general sense and the inflection added has emphasized the fact that they
are acting as the present form of verb ‘need/dare’. Therefore, they are verbs (present form) in this
example.

c. John is working hard

In this example, the copula ‘is’ is used as an auxiliary verb (form of main auxiliary verb ‘be’)
because ‘is’ is used to link subject with the predicate in three conditions. First condition includes
its usage as a linking verb (which is the most common and general definition of copula), the
second condition includes the progressive aspect in the sense that the action is still ongoing (e.g.
‘is working’) and the third and last condition includes its usage as passive voice (e.g. ‘the letter
was written by her.) In this example, the auxiliary verb ‘is’ is indicating to the progressive aspect
of the verb, therefore, it is used as an auxiliary verb here.

d. John may stay at home

The word ‘may’ in this example has the categorical status of (modal) auxiliary verb because it is
giving information about the function of the main verb (stay) that it is governing in above
example. Moreover, the modal auxiliary verb ‘may’ is suggesting the possible decision of John
staying at home. The word ‘may’ has two grammatical functions i.e. deontic modality (used to
ask for permission e.g. ‘May I come in?’) and epistemic modality (used to suggest that
something is possible e.g. ‘John may stay at home’). Likewise, an auxiliary verb cannot be
inflected hence, proving that ‘may’ is a modal auxiliary verb.

e. John has done it

In this example, the word ‘has’ is acting as an auxiliary verb because it is indicating the present
perfect aspect of the main verb ‘done’. The auxiliary verb ‘have’ has three forms which are used
in perfect sentences in English language i.e. had, has and have used in past perfect and present
perfect tenses respectively with ‘has’ being used with singular noun and ‘have’ being used with
plural noun. Moreover as mentioned before, an auxiliary verb expresses an aspect and the tense
of the clause in which it appears, therefore, it is clear that ‘has’ is acting as auxiliary verb in this
example.

f. John has to go there

Usually the word ‘has’ is considered as an auxiliary verb (even though, it has dual verb/auxiliary
status), however, in this particular example, it is acting as the main verb. The reason lies in the
structure of the sentence. The verb ‘has’ is being followed by infinitive complement (e.g. ‘to go
there’). As English is a head-initial language which means that head is always preceded by its
complement, therefore, ‘has’ is acting as the main verb in this example. Another point which
proves the status of ‘has’ as the main verb is the rule that ‘has or have’ is always used as an
auxiliary verb in all present perfect sentences (which means using the third form of verb).
However, in this example, the base form of verb has been used (e.g. ‘go’).

g. John used to go there quite often

In this example, the verb ‘used to’ is a ‘marginal’ modal verb which is always used with the first
form of the verb. Unlike the other modal verbs, it is only found in the past tense. Moreover
‘used to’ is a phrase that can mean “accustomed or habituated to” or refers to something from the
past that is no longer true. If ‘used’ is not followed by ‘infinitival particle ‘to’, it can be
considered as the main verb. For example,

She used my towel.

She used to use my towel.

In these examples, the main verb ‘used’ is indicating that a particular person has used my towel
whereas, in the second example, ‘used’ along with infinitival ‘to’ is acting as the modal verb
suggesting that a particular person used to use my towel in the past but she no longer does (past
habit).

2a. Executives like to drive to work

In the above example, the first ‘to’ is an infinitival particle and the second ‘to’ is a preposition.
The foremost reason is that according to Syntactic theory, infinitival ‘to’ precedes the base form
of the verb whereas the preposition ‘to’ is typically combined with a noun or pronoun. Moreover,
the second ‘to’ is a contentive preposition because it has the antonym ‘from’ and if ‘to’ is
replaced by ‘from’, the sentence will still make the sense whereas the infinitival particle ‘to’ has
no antonym. For example,

Executives like to drive from work.


Executives like from drive to work.  No obvious antonym

Furthermore, the second ‘to’ is a typical transitive preposition because it is followed by a noun
which is acting as the complement of the prepositional phrase. In addition to it, prepositions are
used to reveal temporal, spatial or logical relationship of their object with another word in the
sentence (e.g. ‘drive to work (destination)’). Thus, in all relevant respects, the first ‘to’ behaves
like an infinitival particle, whereas, the second ‘to’ behaves like a preposition.

b. I look forward to learning to drive

In this example, the first ‘to’ is behaving like a preposition whereas the second ‘to’ is behaving
as an infinitival particle. As mentioned before, according to Syntactic theory, the preposition ‘to’
is typically combined with a noun or a pronoun but, in this case, the verb ‘learn’ by adding ‘-ing’
is acting as a gerund (a verb functioning as a noun). Moreover, the infinitival ‘to’ precedes the
infinitive verb form (e.g. ‘drive’). Although this example is complicated because both ‘learning’
and ‘drive’ have dual verb/noun status, if the first ‘to’ is removed, then the second ‘to’ acts as a
preposition because the word ‘drive’ becomes a noun.

I look forward learning to drive.

Thus, the first ‘to’ is a preposition and the second ‘to’ is an infinitive particle.

c. It’s difficult to get him to work

In the above example, the first ‘to’ is an infinitival particle and the second ‘to’ is a preposition.
The infinitival ‘to’ precedes the base form of the verb (e.g. get) whereas the preposition ‘to’ is
typically combined with a noun or pronoun (e.g. work). Moreover, the second ‘to’ is a contentive
preposition because it has the antonym ‘from’ and if ‘to’ is replaced by ‘from’, the sentence will
still make the sense whereas the infinitival particle ‘to’ has no antonym. For example,

It’s difficult to get him from work

It’s difficult from get him to work.  No obvious antonym


Furthermore, the second ‘to’ is a typical transitive preposition because it is followed by a noun
which is acting as the complement of the prepositional phrase. In addition to it, prepositions are
used to reveal temporal, spatial or logical relationship of their object with another word in the
sentence (e.g. ‘get him to work (destination)’). Thus, in all relevant respects, the first ‘to’
behaves like an infinitival particle, whereas, the second ‘to’ behaves like a preposition.

d. I’ve never felt tempted to turn to taking drugs

In this example, the first ‘to’ is behaving like an infinitival particle whereas the second ‘to’ is
behaving as a preposition. As mentioned before, according to Syntactic theory, the preposition
‘to’ is typically combined with a noun or a pronoun but, in this case, the verb ‘take’ by adding ‘-
ing’ is acting as a gerund (a verb functioning as a noun). Moreover, the infinitival ‘to’ precedes
the infinitive verb form (e.g. ‘turn’). Although this example is complicated because both ‘turn’
and ‘taking’ have dual verb/noun status, if the noun ‘taking’ is removed, the second ‘to’ still
behaves as a preposition (as it is followed by noun ‘drugs’). For example,

I’ve never felt tempted to turn to drugs.

Thus, the first ‘to’ is an infinitival particle and the second ‘to’ is a preposition.

f. Failure to achieve sometimes drives people to drink

In this example, the first ‘to’ is behaving like an infinitival particle whereas the second ‘to’ is
behaving as a preposition. As mentioned before, the preposition ‘to’ has the antonym ‘from’
whereas infinitival particle ‘to’ has no obvious antonym. For example,

Failure to achieve sometimes drives people from drink.

Failure from achieve sometimes drives people to drink.

g. Try to go to sleep.
The first ‘to’ is acting as an infinitive particle whereas, the second ‘to’ is acting as a preposition
as it is preceding the noun ‘sleep’ showing relationship of noun with other words in the
sentence.

3a It is important for parents to spend time with their children

The above example is structurally ambiguous leading to two possible analysis of ‘for’ either as a
preposition or as a complementiser. The possibility that ‘for’ might be used here as a preposition
is suggested by the fact that the string following ‘for’ could be preposed to the front of its
containing sentence (e.g. ‘For parents, it is important to spend time with their children). The
second possibility that ‘for’ might be used here as a complementiser is suggested by the fact that
‘for’ can be substituted by ‘that’ (e.g. ‘It is important that parents should spend time with their
children).

Thus, ‘for’ functions as a transitive preposition as well as, as an infinitival complementizer.

b. It would be disastrous for me for my driving-license to be withdrawn

In this example, the first ‘for’ is acting as a preposition and the second ‘for’ is acting as a
complementizer. The possibility that ‘for’ might be used here as a preposition is suggested by the
fact that the string following ‘for’ could be preposed to the front of its containing sentence (e.g.
‘For me, it would be disastrous that my driving-license is withdrawn). The second ‘for’ is a
complementizer because ‘for’ can be substituted by ‘that’ (e.g. ‘For me, it would be disastrous
that my driving-license is withdrawn).

Thus, the first ‘for’ functions as a transitive preposition and the second ‘for’ as a
complementizer.

c. He was arrested for being drunk


In the above example, ‘for’ is behaving as a preposition as it is used as a reason for being
arrested (drunk). Moreover, the preposition ‘for’ is connecting the noun with the other words in
the sentence.

d. We are hoping for a peace agreement to be signed

In this example, the word ‘for’ is acting as a complementizer as well as a preposition. The above
example is structurally ambiguous leading to two possible analysis of ‘for’ either as a preposition
or as a complementiser. The possibility that ‘for’ might be used here as a preposition is
suggested by the fact that the string following ‘for’ could be preposed to the front of its
containing sentence (e.g. ‘For a peace agreement, we are hoping it to be signed). The second
possibility that ‘for’ might be used here as a complementiser is suggested by the fact that ‘for’
can be substituted by ‘that’ (e.g. ‘We are hoping that a peace agreement should be signed).

Thus, ‘for’ functions as a transitive preposition as well as, as an infinitival complementizer.

e. Ships head for the nearest port in a storm

In this example, the word ‘for’ is behaving as a transitive preposition. If ‘for’ is replaced by
another preposition ‘to’, it will still make sense. For example,

Ships head to the nearest port in a storm.

Thus, ‘for’ is functioning as a transitive preposition.

f. Congress voted for the treaty to be ratified

The word ‘for’ in this example is functioning as a preposition and as a complementizer. For
example,

For the treaty to be ratified, Congress voted.

Congress voted that the treaty should be ratified.


In both ways, it is clear that ‘for’ is behaving as a preposition and as a complementizer.

g. It would be unfortunate for the students to fail their exams

In this example, the word ‘for’ is behaving as a transitive preposition and this is suggested by the
fact that the string following ‘for’ could be preposed to the front of the containing sentence. For
example,

For the students, it would be unfortunate to fail their exams.

Thus, ‘for’ is behaving as a transitive preposition.


ASSIGNMENT-2

Submitted to: Dr. Urooj Alvi


Submitted by: Mahnoor Bano
Course: Advanced Syntax
M.Phil Applied Linguistics
Semester: 3

Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore