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This is the reason why contemporary English, the language we use today, isn’t so different from middle


Modern English has these characteristics:

(desinenze): for example there is –ED for past tens and –S for the plural;

few inflections

­ the more you reduce inflections, the more the word order is important to understand

word order:

­ the meaning of the sentence (SVO: English is more fixed than Italian);

the way in which we create sentences (es. Interrogative sentences:

rules of the language:

­ VSO).

3. The sociolinguistics status of present­day English

English is today spoken in different lands around the world and each area develops a new way of speaking


The present­day English has an English paradigm:

American English, African English, New York English, Canadian English;

geographical location:

­ Chinese English, Indian English, Pakistan English,

linguistic and ethnic association:

­ Japanese English; noun + ”speak”: airspeak, seaspeak,

cultural location / technological location:

­ policespeak used with activities such as culture, technology, commerce and education;

medical English, legal English;

combinations of locations and activity:

­ Frenglish, Chiglish.

fusion of English with other languages:


The diaspora of English worldwide, that means the spreading of English worldwide, is characterized by three

main stages: this stage refers to the expansion of English within the British Isles, so Scotland, Wales

first stage:

­ and Northern Ireland.

These places had their own languages: Wales had Welsh, Scotland and Northern Ireland had Gaelic:

English became more dominant than the other native languages. Today Gaelic and Welsh are still

taught, but at higher levels, such as in social and economical sector, English is the only spoken


In these countries English is an autonomist language;

this stage is associated with the discovery of new territories and the establishment

second stage:

­ of the British colonies in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

In this places English is seen as a for communication in trading exchanges and

lingua franca

between African slaves and their British masters.

In these countries English is different from the English spoken in Britain, but it is also a

standardized variety of English;

this stage deals with the diffusion of English as a in territories

third stage: second language

­ such as in Africa and Asia, also thanks to the globalization.

The geographical spread of present­day English has been described in terms of three concentric circles:

places where English has multifunctional role and it’s used as a native language; this

inner circle:

­ is the language spoken by the media and at school;

places where English has the status of a second language; this is the language of

outer circle:

­ government, media, religion, education;

places where English is used as a foreign language; this is the language of

expanding circle:

­ diplomacy, scientific research, business and international organization.

Today English has acquired the status of English has reached lots of places, also if it’s not

global English:

the most spoken language numerically, because the most spoken language is Chinese.

Global English is also considered in two different ways:

(spoken in many ways): that means how different populations speak the language, from


­ the standard English spoken by the Upper Class to the one spoken by the lower class;

that means how well speakers can move from a language to another; such as in


­ Switzerland, people can speak German and French very fluently and confidently.

The contacts among different populations and different varieties of the same language can change the

language itself: the different types of influence are:

the way in which people make English nearer to their native language;


­ the way in which English is associated to culture;


­ it happens when a different language starts to use words taken from the native


­ language and to use them also in the variety of English spoken in that place;

some words are adapted according to the situation;


­ in the new variety of the language, some words have

change of the original meaning:

­ changed their original meaning (es. “station”: where you take trains where you go to work).


1. Accents of English

English is spoken in different parts of the world and each area has its own pronunciation.

The result is the variety of English accents which are used throughout the English­speaking world.

The two main varieties of the English language are and

British English American English.

2. Phonetics is the science that studies the physical characteristics of sounds.

Phonetics deals instead with the physiology of speech production, that means that it

Articulatory phonetics

searches the parts of the human mouth which produce sounds.

3. Graphemes and phonemes

The term refers to a letter of the alphabet, to the way in which sound are written.


There are also that means that they’re not pronounced.

silent graphemes,

The term refers to the sounds of a language which are able to produce a distinction in meaning


between words. For example the two different sounds in the words “sheep” and “ship” create a minimal


Same pair of words can be:

they are written in the same way (es. tear –strappare­ tear –lacrima);


­ they are pronounced in the same way (es. allowed – aloud).



In English the relation between spelling (the way words are written) and pronunciation (the way words are

pronounced) is misleading: the is composed of the symbols

International Phonetic Alphabet IPA

used for representing the phonemes and sounds of all languages, also English.

4. English Phonology

also called describes the organization of the sound system of a

Phonology, segmental phonology,


We call instead the one which studies units larger than the phoneme and

suprasegmental phonology

their related phenomena, such as stress, intonation and rhythm.

We have also to speak about which are the different ways in which a word is pronounced: the


allophonic variation doesn’t involve any change in the meaning of words but is responsible for some

differences in accents.

5. The pronunciation of British English

In English there are 43 phonemes:

11 vowels;

­ 8 diphthongs: which are the result of the combination of two sounds;

­ 24 consonants.


The characteristic of a sound are:

that means whether a sound is pronounced or not: the sound can be

Voicing: voiced sounds,

­ which are pronounced (the vocal cords are closed and they cause a vibration), or voiceless

which aren’t pronounced (the vocal cords are open and they don’t vibrate);

sounds, this is the different places of the mouth produce the different sounds;

Place of articulation:

­ the way we articulate sounds can be divided in three different

Manner (way) of articulation:

­ types: (which involve a stricture in articulation and they are sounds like /p, t, k, b,

plosive sounds

d, g/), (which produce a hissing sound and the air escapes through a small place

fricative sounds

between the articulators and they are sounds like /f, v, s, z, /) and (the

affricate sounds


combination, the mixture between plosive and fricative sounds es. /th/).

6. The pronunciation of American English

American English has become more and more important as a variety of the English language because of its

massive impact on world business and commerce and on the mass media.

Differences in pronunciation between British and American English are perhaps more marked than differences

in vocabulary and grammar.

Today American English often influences British English itself.

7. Italian and English phonemes in contrast

English and Italian are two very different languages and we can realize that also when we ear an Italian

student speaking English.

The Italian speaker will tend not to differentiate for example between long /i:/ and short /I/, and pronounce them

as if they sounded the same. (es. leave – live).

This happens also for the pronunciation of the past tense/past participle forms of regular verbs, the –ed

inflection is pronounced differently according to the phoneme preceding it: the Italian speaker tends to

pronounce all of them in the same way.

A is a phonological unit made up of one or more phonemes.


It can be: if it ends with a vowel (es. tea);

open syllable:

­ if it end with a consonant (es. all).

closed syllable:


8. Stress

In phonemic transcription stress is indicated by a vertical line preceding the stressed syllable.

In English there are many types of stress patterns.

For example in the case of suffixes, there are some suffixes which are stressed (such as –ation) and other

suffixes which are instead unstressed (such as –less, ­ness, ­able).

9. Connected speech

The term refers to the sounds when they are pronounced in a sequence and the

connected speech

accent changes from when we pronounce these same sounds separately.

While in the written language words are conventionally separated from one another by spaces, in the spoken

language the transition from each sound to the other is “smooth” and the sounds aren’t always pronounced


The quicker we speak, the more we reduce sounds (economy of language).

In the connected speech we have and it is caused by three factors:

phonetic variability

the influence of the phonetic environment in which each phoneme occurs;

­ the rhythmic pattern of the syllable in which each phoneme occurs;

­ the speed we speak at.


There are five types of phonetic variation:

when we pronounce words very quickly we often built a bridge between two different words


­ (es. “I’m going to live_early);

the replacement of a sound with another;


­ when we speak fast we can also make sounds disappear, sound which once existed or


­ which exist in slow speech;

when we eliminate the final vowel of a word.

vowel reduction:


10. The Intonation

= it is used to convey a sense of finality;

Falling Tone = it is used to convey uncertainty and doubt;

Fall­Rise Tone = it is used to convey surprise and admiration;

Rise­Fall Tone

the intonation depends also on the grammatical function of the different elements

 = the placement of stress on the FOCUS, which is the central information we want to

Accentual Function

convey; = the focus is normally found at the end of the intonation phrase (the so­called END­

Discourse Function


11. The pronunciation of English as a Lingua Franca


During the 20 century English became a global language and today it’s used as a lingua franca by millions of

non­native speakers of English.

For this reason today there are lots of variations of English, such as according to the pronunciation.

Today English is used for international communication in many key domains such as business, tourism,

politics, sport, transport and the mass media.


So during the 20 century the so called was born: it is a number of phonological

Lingua Franca Core

features which are indispensable in order to communicate successfully in international contexts.

Its aim was to establish an international system of English pronunciation.



1. Definitions of Grammar

The is a set of rules which allow the production of well­formed sentences or utterances. Basically


it’s the structure of the language, so how the language is organized.

The language can be studied from two different points of view:

morphology is the area of linguistics that deals with the structure or form of words


­ and it describes the ways in which small elements, called morphemes, can be combined to create

words; syntax is the study of the way in which words are combined in order to form larger units


­ such as phrases, clauses and sentences.

The main units of grammar can be ordered according to a hierarchy of units, a the most

rank scale;

important units of grammar are:


A is the smallest linguistic unit of grammar and it cannot be divided into smaller units and it’s the


minimal. Morphemes are the minimal and indivisible elements of words that carries semantic content.


A is a linguistic unit phonologically preceded and followed by pauses, orthographically preceded and


followed by spaces or punctuation marks, and carrying a single meaning.


A is a linguistic unit made up of a word or of a group of words .


There are different types of phrase, according to the dominant part present:

(NP): es. “the boy”;

noun phrase

­ (VP): es. “has given”;

verb phrase

­ (AP): es. “extremely interesting”;

adjective phrase

­ (AdvP): es. “very fast”;

adverb phrase

­ (PP): es. “in front of the cinema”.

prepositional phrase



A is a linguistic unit which is made up of one or more phrases and which typically contains at least


one verb phrase.

Other elements can be added to the verb phrase, such as a noun phrase functioning as subject, or other

elements which are necessary in order to make the clause complete.

A main clause is semantically independent and can stand alone.


A is the largest linguistic unit and can consist of one or more clauses .


If this sentence is uttered by a speaker, that means that it’s an instance of spoken language in use, it is called



A can be defined as a written or spoken stretch of language, a sequence of sentences which is coherent


and cohesive.

2. Word, word­form and lexeme

Linguists agree that finding a precise definition of the term “word” is quite difficult.

There are in fact different points of view from which words can be seen:

an orthographic word is a linguistic unit which in the written form is preceded by


­ a space and followed by a space or a punctuation mark;

phonological word is a linguistic unit surrounded by pauses and having only one


­ main stress;

according to its according to this criterion a word is an indivisible unit which

internal integrity:

­ can’t be interrupted by inserting other material in it; insertion can only be made between different


in terms of according to this criterion a word is a linguistic unit that expresses a single


­ concept. This definition is sometimes imperfect, because there are some linguistic units, such as “the,

to, by, and”, which are considered words, also if they don’t carry referential meaning.

Knowing what a word is, isn’t sufficient to describe the language, so we talk also about lexeme and word­form.

A is an abstract unit of vocabulary which underlines different variants known as

lexeme word­form.

So the lexeme can be described as the abstract unit of vocabulary; the word­form is instead the physical

realization of a lexeme, its concrete expression in speech or writing.

We can say that the lexeme exists only hypothetically; the word­form is instead the manifestation of the


Es. lexeme DOG (usually represented in linguistics by using capital letters) / word­form dog, dogs ­­­­­­

lexeme SHORT / word­form shortest, shorter.

In lexicography, that means the writing of dictionaries, the technical terms used to refer to the lexemes, so the

abstract dictionary units, are “entry”, “headword” and “lemma”.

A is an independent lexical unit which is listed in a dictionary in alphabetical order . A

dictionary entry

is the main word selected.


The entry, or headword, is followed by information on its spelling, pronunciation, word class, inflections,

meaning and examples of use.

The is instead the word­form which is conventionally chosen to represent the lexeme in a

citation form

dictionary: for English nouns the singular is the citation form; for English verbs the citation form is the base

form (play, run); for Italian verbs the citation form is the infinitive (giocare, correre); for Latin verbs the citation

form is the first person singular.

There are also cases in which the same word­form expresses different lexemes: such as “walk” which can be a

noun or a verb.

3. Word classes

Word are traditionally grouped into different categories called word classes or according

parts of speech

to their meaning their structure and position in a sentence.

There are 9 main word classes and they can be:

open classes are the classes which can admit new members (es. nouns, lexical

open classes:

­ verbs, adjectives, adverbs) these words are called because they’re

lexical or content words,

the main carries of meaning in the text;

in this group of words new words are rarely added, because they are fixed (es.

closed classes:

­ conjunctions, prepositions, determiners, pronouns, auxiliary verbs); these words are called

because they don’t carry lexical meaning, but they signal

functional or grammatical words,

the links between words or linguistic units.

The 9 main classes are:


are lexical words which refer to concrete objects (such as things, places, events, people) or abstract


notions and things, states or quality.

There are different kinds of nouns: common nouns, proper nouns, countable nouns,

uncountable nouns.

We have to know the characteristics of a noun in order to use correctly the other parts of speech: for example,

we have to know if the noun is countable or uncountable to understand if we have to put the article or not in

front of the noun, or to understand if this noun has the plural or not.


are words which express actions, events, states, processes and show the relationship between the


participants in what is referred to by the verb.

There are different kinds of verbs: (also called main verbs) and

lexical verbs auxiliary verbs.


are lexical words which describe qualities and properties of things or people, and states of



These adjectives provide information about nouns and pronouns.


are lexical words which can carry out several functions.


These adverbs usually accompany an adjective or a verb or they also can give information about

circumstances of an action, event, process or state, so for example information about place, time, manner,

degree, frequency, duration.

There are different kinds of adverbs: (which express the

circumstance adverbs or adjuncts

circumstances in which the action happens: place, time, manner, frequency, duration,…), stance adverbs

(they can be left out because they aren’t connected with the information and they refer to the

or disjuncts

speaker/writer’s attitude, feelings or point of view– es. Luckily, Probably) or linking adverbs or

(they are very important because they are connected with the information and they provide a


linking between clauses or sentences – es. however, though, furthermore).


are functional words which link linguistic items such as words, phrases, clauses and



There are two different types of conjunctions: and

coordinating conjunctions or coordinators

subordinating conjunctions or subordinators.

Coordinating conjunctions join elements which have equal grammatical status and syntactic role (for example

two nouns or two adjectives): and, but, or, for, yet, not.

Subordinating conjunctions join clauses where one clause is the dominant one and the other is subordinated:

here the dominant, the main clause is linked to the subordinate clause with conjunctions like if (conditional) ,

when (time), where (place), although (concession), so that (purpose), since (reason).


are functional words that link words or syntactic elements and express the relationship


between them.

There are different types of prepositions: (they are composed of one word: in, at, for,

simple preposition

with, to, in, after, before, by, of, under) and (they are made up of two or more

complex preposition

words: next to, according to, in spite of, in line with, for the sake of).


are functional words that are used before a noun to indicate the type of reference the noun



The different types of determiners we have are:


the definite article:

­ a, an;

the indefinite article:

­ this, that, these, those;

demonstrative determiners:

­ my, your, his, her, its, their, our;

possessive determiners:

­ some, many, enough, more, few, a little, all.




are functional words that are used to replace nouns when we want to refer to a person, an object,


a situation, an event or a place which has been mentioned before or whose referent can be deduced from the

context of the situation or the surrounding text.

There are different types of pronouns:

I, you, she, he, it, we, you, they;

personal pronouns:

­ my, your, his, her, its, our, your, their;

possessive pronouns:

­ this, that;

demonstrative pronouns:

­ himself, myself;

reflexive pronouns:

­ each other, one other;

reciprocal pronouns:

­ which, who, that;

relative pronouns:

­ someone, everyone, all;

indefinite pronouns:

­ who?, what?, which?.

interrogative pronouns:



are a small class of verbs which accompany a lexical, or main verb and they cannot

Auxiliary verbs

usually occur alone.

There are two different types of auxiliaries:

be, have, do they can also be used as independent verbs;

primary auxiliaries:

­ can, could, may, might, will, would, shall, should, must.

modal auxiliaries:


To these 9 main classes, two other different classes can be added and they are:


are functional words which begin with wh­ and introduce clauses, such as questions and relative



They are: which, what, whose, who, when, and we can also add how and whatever.


are a set of words referring to number or quantity which are used as determiners or as heads in


noun phrases.

Numerals can be (1,2,3) or (first, second, third).

cardinals ordinals

4. Grammatical functions

A word can have different functions:

(S): the subject is what the sentence is about, it’s the topic; it usually precedes the verb and


­ determines whether the verb is singular or plural;

(V): the verb is what is said about the subject; it’s also called

verb predicator;

­ (O): the object can be (O ) or (O );

object direct object indirect object

­ d i

(C): the complement can be a (C ), which complete the

complement subject complement

­ s

idea conveid by the verb, or an (C ), which gives more information about the

object complement o

object; (A): there are different types of adverbials according to the information they provide; there


­ are which provide information about the circumstances of what is

circumstance adverbials,

said (they can be time, place, manner etc. adverbial), which express the

stance adverbials,

speaker’s attitude or comments on what is said, which have a linking function.

linking adverbials,


1. Morphology is, as we said, the area of linguistics that deals with the structure or form of words and it


describes the ways in which small elements, called morphemes, can be combined to create words.

As we said, the is the smallest grammar unit, which cannot be divided into smaller units;


morphemes are for this reason the minimal, indivisible elements of words, which are able to carry meaning.

There are also which are words composed of more than one

polymorphemic or complex words,


The are instead words composed of only one morpheme.

monomorphemic or simple words

We can say that morphemes are abstract entities.

are instead the concrete realization or representation of morphemes.


Morphemes are usually written in curly braces {} (es. played = play + ­ed).

Then there are also which are the different phonetic or graphic realizations of a morpheme


(es. plural: both with –s and –es).

Examples of allomorphs:

the morph that indicates {past tense} in English is –ed this morpheme can be realized phonetically in

­ different ways, depending on the phonological context: [d], [t] and [ed] these are allomorphs of that


the morph that indicates {plural} in English is –s this morpheme can realized orthographically in

­ three different ways: [s], [z] and [iz] allomorphs;

the morphs in­, im­, il­, ir­ are graphic allomorphs of the same morpheme which indicates oppositeness

­ of meaning they realize the same morpheme {­in};

the morph that indicates the English indefinite article has two different orthographic shapes “a / an”

­ “a” is used before a phonetic consonant, “an” is used before a vowel.

The choice between the different allomorphs is determined by the context in which the morphs occur.

They are said to be in complementary distribution when each morph only occurs in a specific environment and

if we select one we cannot select its alternative representation.

2. Types of Morphemes

Not all morphemes have the same characteristics, functions and status.

There are in fact different types of morphemes:

they are called “free” because they can stand alone as words; they are also

free morphemes:

­ called because they are able to carry the semantic content of the word.

free roots,

These free morphemes can be: these are free morphemes which belong to the class of

free lexical morphemes:

o lexical words, which carry semantic content;

these are free morphemes which belong to the class of

free functional morphemes:

o functional words, which don’t carry semantic content (es. the, be, by, a);

they are morphemes which cannot occur on their own as separate words,

bound morphemes:

­ but they need to be attached to another morpheme.

These bound morphemes can be:

they are linguistic units which are attached to another word; they can precede


o another morpheme (prefixes), such as re­, or they can follow another morpheme

(suffixes), such as –ness, ­er, ­s.

These affixes are attached to:

the which is the minimal part of a word which is no further divisible into other


• morphemes and it determines the meaning of a word (es. deconstructed “construct”

is the root);

the which is the part of a word to which inflectional affixes are attached (es.


• reprinted “reprint” is the stem);

the which is the form of a word to which any affixes can be attached (es.


• happiness “happy” is the base).

Affixes can also be divided into these two classes:

this kind of morphemes are used in order to create

derivational morphemes:

• new words, attaching this morpheme to another; for example the morpheme “­ness” is

used to derivate a name from an adjective;

they are always affixes, but they aren’t used to

inflectional morphemes:

• derivate new words; their role is only to express grammatical relations and functions;

for example the morpheme “­ed” expresses only past tense, but it doesn’t derivate

new words.

they are some roots which cannot occur on their own as independent words,

bound roots:

o but need to be attached to another morpheme; bound roots often derive from Latin, but their

meaning isn’t always easy to determine.

3. Inflectional morphology

Modern English has a more limited presence of inflectional morphology compared to Old English and

compared to other languages.

Noun inflections

For example English nouns have only two categories, which are the categories of and of

number case.

They don’t indicate the category of gender.

According to the number, most English nouns don’t carry any inflections and they are said to be unmarked;

regular plurals of count nouns are formed by adding the inflectional suffix –s.

This regular plural suffix –s can have different allomorphs, such as:

irregular suffixes : nouns that form the plural by adding the Old English suffix –en (es. child – children);

­ foreign plural : nouns of Greek, Latin and French derivation that keep the original plural form (es.

­ curriculum – curricula);

vowel mutation or replacive morph : nouns that form the plural by changing the vowel of the root, here a

­ morph replaces another (es. tooth – teeth);

voicing of final consonant : nouns that form the plural just with a phonological change; in fact the last

­ consonant changes from voiceless to voiced (es. wife – wives);

zero inflection / zero morph : the singular and the plural forms are identical (es. sheep – sheep).


Another peculiarity of English nouns is that they can express possession by adding the inflectional suffix –s,

which is called Genitive Case

Verb inflections

English Regular verbs have five inflections:

the es. play;

base form:

­ the all lexical verbs


–s inflection for the 3 person singular, simple present tense:

­ must add this inflection, both regular and irregular; es. plays;

the something changes only at phonetic level, because

–ed inflection, simple past tense:

­ there are allomorphs according to the sound; es. played;

the this morpheme has the same form of the regular past tense

–ed inflection, past participle:

­ inflectional suffix –ed; es. played;

the es. playing.

–ing inflection, present participle and gerund:


Then there are also the irregular verbs, which form the past tense and the past participle in a different ways:

the past tense and the past participle forms have no inflectional suffix; they have the

zero morphs:

­ same form of the base form; (es. cut – cut – cut);

the past tense and the past participle forms are derived changing a vowel of the

vowel mutation:

­ base form (es. swim – swam – swum); there are also cases of vowel mutation in which we also add

the irregular inflection –en for the past participle form (es. speak – spoke – spoken);

the past tense and past participle are identical and they are formed through

replacive morphs:

­ the replacement of one or more phonemes with other phonemes (es. lose – lost – lost);

the past tense and the past participle are completely different and they seem to be


­ unrelated (es. be – was/were – been).

There are also auxiliary verbs, which are do, be and have, and they’re also irregular.

Adjective and adverb inflections

Most adjectives and some adverbs can be graded.

For example the adjective “nervous” can be graded in: very nervous, extremely nervous, not nervous at all.

can be inflected to express comparative and superlative degree:

Gradable adjectives and adverbs

the is formed by adding the suffix

comparative –er;

­ the is formed by adding the suffix

superlative –est.


Some gradable adjectives don’t form the comparative and the superlative by adding inflectional suffixes: some

of them adopt with and (es. more nervous, most nervous).

periphrastic forms, more most

There are also some irregular adjectives, such as “good” and “bad”, or some irregular adverbs, such as “well”,

“much”, “little”, that have irregular forms for the comparative and the superlative degree:

good – better – best;

­ bad – worse – worst;

­ well – better – best;

­ much – more – most;

­ little – less – least.


Pronoun and determiner inflections

have different inflections and thanks to this characteristic, they can express the category of


in fact we find them in singular, “this” and “that”, and in plural “these” and “those”.


Pronouns can be instead number, person, gender, subject­object case, possession.


is the study of the way in which words are combined in order to form larger units such as phrases,


clauses and sentences.

1. Word order

The order of constituents is extremely important in English, because it specifies and signals the syntactic

function of the different constituents.

This word order in English is more fixed and rigid than Italian: the scheme to follow is S(subject) V(verb)

( UNMARKED STRUCTURE, because it’s a typical structure).


In English the subject is always expressed, while in Italian it can be omitted: in English the subject isn’t

expressed only in imperative clauses.

2. Types of phrases

A is a linguistic unit made up of a word or of a group of words.


It is constructed around a which is the most important word of the phrase.

head word,

The head word is accompanied by the so called which can be divided into

modifiers, pre­modifiers,

when they precede the head word, and when they follow the head word.


The head word of a phrase is an obligatory element, while other words accompanying it are optional.

According to the headword , the phrases can be:

noun phrases : when the headword is a noun;

­ verb phrases : when the headword is a verb;

­ adjective phrases : when the headword is an adjective;

­ adverb phrase : when the headword is an adverb;

­ prepositional phrase : when the headword is a preposition, followed by another element, which is

­ usually a noun phrase.

The noun phrase

A noun phrase consists of a , which is the , which can be alone or accompanied by other

noun head word

words before or after it; they can be:

they are articles (determinate or indeterminate), demonstratives, possessives,


­ quantifiers and numerals;

they can be adjective or adjective phrases, nouns or noun phrases;


­ they can be:


­ prepositional phrases (es. in the heart of Oxford);

o relative clauses (es. which is…);

o non­finite clause : where there is no indication of tense, in gerund, part participle, infinitive (es.

o a man walking with his dog);

some types of adjective phrases (es. something similar);

o some adverbial phrases (es. the car outside);

o that­clauses (the book that I’ve read);

o appositive noun phrases : a piece of information which is given after the headword and it gives

o a qualification about the headword (es. Chis Green, managing director of InterCity,…).

Noun phrases can be extremely long and complex or also very short.

The internal structure of a phrase can be illustrated by using a (es. from page141 we have

tree diagram

also which can be inside another phrase).

embedded phrases

This operation of illustration of a phrase’s structure isn’t so easy in English: in fact in Italian the relationships

among phrases are explicit, but not in English, where they are implicit.

In English we call this phenomenon for this reason there are difficulties in understanding the


relations among the different constituents of the phrase.

The verb phrase

A verb phrase consists of a , which is the , which can be alone or accompanied by other

verb head word

words before or after it.

In English there are two different types of verbs:

which can carry meaning and it can be used alone;

lexical verbs:

­ which accompany other verbs these verbs are used to express grammatical

auxiliary verbs:

­ categories such as and and to signal and

aspect, voice modality negation clause type.

The most used auxiliary is and it’s used to form the passive voice and the progressive aspect;


another very use auxiliary is which is used to form the perfective aspect; is instead


adopted to create the negative and the interrogative forms. Also are considered as

modal verbs

auxiliary verbs and they are combined with lexical verbs to express modality, such as possibility,

obligation, necessity, permission, ability, prediction or volition.

Verb phrases are divided into two main groups according to the verb which is used:

a finite verb phrase is a phrase which contains a verb in its finite or tensed form, which

finite VPs:

­ means that the verb indicates tense in these finite verb phrases we can say that the tense is marked

on the first verb of the phrase: this means that if the VP is made up of the lexical verb only, the tense

will be shown by the lexical verb; while if the VP contains also auxiliaries, the tense will be marked on

the first auxiliary; a non­finite phrase is a phrase which contains a verb in its non­finite or non­tensed

non­finite VPs:

­ form, which means that the verb doesn’t show tense (infinite –play­, gerund –playing­, past participle –


In English VP is very important, because it gives different types of information, such as:



Tense is a grammatical category which in English is marked through verb inflections.

English has only present and past, while Italian has three tenses which are preset, past and

two tenses:


The is signaled by the base form of the verb or the –s inflection only for the third person

present tense

singular; the is instead marked with the

past tense

­ed inflection or irregular allomorphs of the morpheme {past tense}.

We have to notice that tense doesn’t coincide with time!! Tense is related to form, while time is related to



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Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea in scienze linguistiche (BRESCIA - MILANO)

I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher glibertino di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Linguistica inglese e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore - Milano Unicatt o del prof Camaiora Luisa.

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