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Sughrua: Traditional Grammar: Discussion

Information prepared by Bill Sughrua, Facultad de Idiomas, UABJO

2. Traditional Grammar

Traditional grammar was the first philosophy or “school” of grammar. It began with

Plato, in Ancient Greece, approximately 500 B.C. Plato introduced the “naming” of words.

He “named” or identified the verb and the subject. To Plato, the verb and the subject were

the essential elements of a sentence, because together they represented a movement, which

he classified as either an action, feeling, or condition. Therefore, Plato, using Ancient

Greek, began the practice of “naming” or “identifying” words. Plato stopped with his

identification of the verb and subject. That was all for him. It was enough. Plato was a

philosopher, and so, for him this movement created by the connection between the verb and

subject had extreme importance. He called it the essence of the thing. He believed it to be

the beginning of language, the beginning of thought.

After Plato, this practice of naming words continued. Aristotle, for example,

discovered and named the adjective. Eventually, during and after the Roman Empire, this

process was applied to Latin. The final result were the 8 parts of speech and the 7

grammatical categories (see below). Up until the 16 th century, Latin maintained itself as

the official language of England and Western Europe. Therefore, traditional grammar

became a model heavily based on Latin, although it was applied to English, French, Italian,

and other European languages.

During the 16 th and 17 th centuries in England, there began to appear systems of

traditional grammar based on the English language, following the same parts of speech and

grammatical categories, and including a large range of rules. This continued for a very

long time. In the 19 th century, traditional grammar, still based on the Latin model, crossed Página 1 de 13

Sughrua: Traditional Grammar: Discussion

the Atlantic Ocean from England to the United States. At this time, it was introduced in the

educational system of the United States as the “official” grammar. Today, it continues to

have a large influence in the schools.

In general, traditional grammar is prescriptive and

not descriptive. This means that it tells us how we should use the language; it indicates

what is supposed to be the correct usage of English.

And with this correct usage, we have meaning, which is located only within the limits

of the individual word. In other words, we can analyze each individual word as having

some significance to us. This significance is a meaning. But what are these meanings.

That is, if the word is an isolated meaning, what is it? How do we analyze it? What criteria

do we use? We use these:

parts of speech (8 in total).

grammatical categories (7 in total).

And we get this:

parts of speech

+

grammatical categories

=

rules (correct usage).

What are these? Let’s take a look at each element in the formula.

Parts of speech.

Each and every word in English can be identified according to a particular part of

speech as well as sub-type (except for the preposition, which does not have sub-categories).

Before we get into examples, we will first summarize the 8 parts of speech.

NOUN : names a person, place, thing, or idea.

abstract noun : a quality, characteristic, or idea.

example: I believe that friendship is very important to all people.

concrete noun: an object that can be perceived by the senses.

Sughrua: Traditional Grammar: Discussion

example: I found the book on the floor of the classroom.

common noun: an element that exists within a group or classification.

example: One of the most dangerous animals in the world is the lion.

proper noun: the name of a particular person, place, or thing.

example: The previous president of the United States was Bill Clinton.

collective noun: a group (although the word is in the singular form.)

example: The football team of the school went to the national tournament.

Note: Often, you need to interpret the context of the sentence in order to determine the sub-category of the noun, especially whether it would be concrete or common.

Example:

At the store I was going to buy tea but then I decided to buy coffee.

PRONOUN: a word used in substitution of one or more nouns.

personal pronoun: usually as subject of the sentence.

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

objective pronoun: as direct object or indirect object.

me, him, her, them, us, you, it.

possessive pronoun: indicating to whom or what something belongs.

my, mine, his, her, hers, their, theirs, our, ours, your, yours, its

reflexive pronouns: referring the action back to the subject of the sentence. myself, himself, herself, themselves, ourselves, yourself, yourselves, itself.

-- demonstrative pronouns: pointing out persons or things (used alone; not before

a noun, which would be a “demonstrative adjective”).

this, these, that, those.

examples: This is interesting. / I prefer that.

interrogative pronouns: used in questions (but, not as the first word of a relative clause, which would be a”relative conjunction”).

Sughrua: Traditional Grammar: Discussion

who, whom, which, what, why, how, whose.

examples: Who is it?

/

What do you mean?

/

How much it it?

indefinite pronouns: indicating someone or something, but ambiguous.

all, another, any, anybody, anyone, both, each, either, everybody, everyone, few, many, most, neither, nobody, none, no one, one, other, several, some, somebody, someone, such, etc., etc…

VERB: a word expressing an action, condition, state, or feeling.

action verbs (physical action, psychological action)

transitive:

an action verb that passes or transfers its action to a direct

object.

examples: The catcher dropped the ball. / The waiter ignored the customers.

intransitive: an action verb that does not pass or transfer its action to a direct object, i.e. no direct object.

examples: The people sat in the cafeteria / He contemplates everyday.

Note: Many action verbs can be both transitive or intransitive, depending on the context. Example: He walks in the park. (int) / He walks his dog in the park. (t).

linking verbs: non-action verbs (i.e. condition, state, or feeling): connects or links to the subject to an adjective, noun, or pronoun that describes the subject.

(“to be” verb used alone): is, are, am, was, were.

(verbs of the senses): feel, look, smell, taste, sound, etc

(other verbs): seem, appear, become, grow, remain, etc….

Note: Some verbs can be both linking or action (transitive), depending on the context.

/

Examples: (a). The food tastes terrible

(b). Could you please taste the food?

ADJECTIVE: a word used to describe, complement, or modify a noun or pronoun.

qualitative: describes quality or characteristics.

Sughrua: Traditional Grammar: Discussion

What are some examples? General discussion in class.

quantitative: indicates how many, i.e. number or quantity.

What are some examples? General discussion in class.

demonstrative: points out ‘which one’ (same as “demonstrative pronouns,” but, in this case, the word is placed before the noun).

this book, these books, that house, those houses.

a, an, the (what later were to be identified as “articles”).

ADVERB: a word used to modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.

an adverb modifying a verb.

time

place

frequency

manner

condition

reason (cause)

effect

concession

an adverb modifying an adjective.

example: the slowly moving train.

an adverb modifying another adverb.

example:

the very slowly moving train.

CONJUNCTION : a word that joins words, phrases, or clauses.

coordinate.

and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet.

subordinate.

(some examples): after, although, as, as much as, because, before, if, since, than, though, although, unless, until, when, where, while, etc…

Sughrua: Traditional Grammar: Discussion

relative.

which, that, who, whom, whose, why, how.

correlative.

either … or or

neither … nor

both … and

not only … but also

whether …

PREPOSITION: begins a phrase; has an “object” that refers to it; no sub categories.

(some examples): about, above, across, against, along, around, at, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, by, down, during, except, for, from, in, into, like, of, off, on, over, past, since, through, throughout, to, toward, under, underneath, unto, up upon, with, within, without.

INTERJECTION: a word that expresses emotion, with no grammatical relationship to any other words in the sentence; no sub-categories.

examples:

Oh!

Hey!

Ouch!

(based on Perrin & Corder 1975 and Warriner1973)

The primary way to learn the parts of speech is by doing a textual analysis, word-by-

word. Our first example is an analysis of the beginning section and chorus of the lyrics to

the song “Hotel California,” by the Eagles.

INSERT

A

HERE

Another example is a portion of lyrics to “What’s Up,” by 4 Non-Blondes. This analysis,

however, uses a different format from that above. It is based on a numerical code; and in

identifying each word, it constructs the sub-type first and then the part of speech.

INSERT

B

HERE

Those are the parts of speech --

Categories.

Sughrua: Traditional Grammar: Discussion

first phase. Now let’s go to the second.

With each category, we are instructed to focus on certain parts of speech; and we are

given a list of options to choose from.

category

1. Number

options to Select

singular or plural

part of speech analysed

noun, pronoun, verb, demonstrative adjective (this, that, these, those)

2. Person

1 st , 2 nd , or 3 rd

noun, pronoun, verb

3. Gender

masculine, feminine, or neuter

noun, pronoun

4. Tense

present, past, or future

verb

5. Voice

active or passive

verb

6. Mood (a)

indicative, imperative or subjunctive (optative)

verb

Mood (b)

feature of modal, such as suggestion, possibility, and obligation

verb (modal)

7. Case (a)

nominative, objective, possessive, vocative, accusative, genitive, dative, or ablative

noun, pronoun

Case (b)

functions: how

various: to create

words relate

“core” sentence pattern

The above is self-explanatory, except for the mood and case categories, which do pose

difficulty. To give more information, first of all, on mood (a) above, we can say that the

Sughrua: Traditional Grammar: Discussion

indicative mood of the verb is the most common.

Here the verb is an action, condition,

state, or feeling that was directly performed, or possessed, by someone or something (i.e.

the subject).

Examples: I went to the store. The weather was very cold last week. My

sister bought a new jacket. Secondly, the imperative mood is to make a request or

command. Examples: Open the door on your way out. Fill out this application form.

Finally, the subjunctive mood is “to express a condition contrary to fact and to express a

wish” (Warriner 1973: 158). It primarily is used with the “to be” verb, which means “be”

in the present and “were” in the past, for all the subjects. Examples (expressing a wish): I

suggested that he be admitted to membership. Mr. Black insists that they be allowed to

enter the room.

Examples (contrary to fact): If I were you, I’d save the money. (i.e. I am

not you.) If he were taller, he would be a basketball player. (i.e. He is not taller.)

You

talked as though you were my father. (i.e. He is not my father).

The second type of mood, known as (b), is an expansion of the subjunctive mood in

that it considers the hypothetical nature of the verb when used with a modal. Here, the

“meaning” of the modal characterizes the action, condition, state or feeling of the verb. It

all depends on the modal. For example, the verb “should go” means a ‘suggestion or

recommendation’ to go. Likewise the modals can and could mean potentiality; may and

might, possibility; must and ought, obligation; and would, hypothetical.

While mood (a) and (b) focus exclusively on the verb, the case (a) category treats only

the nouns and pronouns. It offers a classification based on an already established purpose

of the noun or pronoun.

Nominative case: noun or pronoun as subject. Example: She left the city.

Objective case

sister (indirect object) an apple (direct object). Possessive case : noun or pronoun showing possession. Example: Her house. Jim’s house.

: noun or pronoun as direct object or indirect object. Example: I bought my

Vocative case

: noun or pronoun used in an expression of emotion. Example: Oh boy !

Genitive case

: noun or pronoun resulting from something else. Example: … of a poem.

Sughrua: Traditional Grammar: Discussion

Dative case

: noun or pronoun as a receptor (indirect object, direct object) within a prepositional

Ablative case

phrase. Example: to / for her. : noun or pronoun as a giver or creator. Example: from / by the teacher.

The second form of case (I would propose) is an expanded interpretation of the nominative

and objective cases. This is a large and extensive area. It concerns the network of

functions in a sentence, which is created by the relationships shared by the words within the

context of the sentence. First, we begin with key functions:

S = subject (creates or performs the verb) V = verb (action, condition, state, or feeling performed or possessed by S)

if V is action:

DO = direct object (receives V) IO = indirect object (receives DO) OC = object complement (complements DO or IO)

if V is non-action (linking):

PA = predicate adjective (complements S) AC = adjective complement (complements PA) PN = predicate noun (complements S) NC = noun complement (complements PN)

ADV = adverb (in this case, only those adverbs modifying the V)

T = time P = place C = condition

M = manner R = reason Cn = concession

E = effect F = frequency Etc….

Note : The OC, PA, NC, and ADV can be a single word, a phrase, or a entire clause. This is very common. Also, the S, DO, and PN usually is a single word; however, they can also consist of entire clauses.

Then, based on the above key functions, we discover the “core” sentence pattern, which

serves as a representation of the network of functions and relationships existing between

the words of the sentence. These are the “standard” patterns. For all sentences in English,

you will discover one of these patterns, or a variation of it, or a combination of more than

one of these patterns.

1. S

--

V

2. -- DO

S

--

V

3. --

S

--

V

V

-- DO

-- OC

/ ADV (flexible; in various positions

4. -- DO

S

--

V

--

IO

in patterns 1 9)

Sughrua: Traditional Grammar: Discussion

5.

S

--

V

--

IO

-- DO

 

6.

S

--

V

--

PA

Note: If the sentence has more than one

7.

S

--

V

--

PA

--

AC

clause, and/or if an entire clause is

8.

S

--

V

--

PN

serving a general function such as

9.

S

--

V

-- PN

-- NC

S or ADV, then that clause, in particular, will have a separate “pattern.”

Depending on the number of clauses in the sentences, the “core” sentence pattern will

be one of the following:

i.

one common level (i.e. independent clause).

ii.

one common level, divided into 2 or more sub-patterns (i.e. 2 or more independent clauses).

iii.

one of more common levels, with a secondary level (i.e. in the event of dependent clauses).

Here are examples of (i) above, that is, case (b) analyses of sentences consisting of one

indpendent clause.

The

1946

Paris

exhibition

brought

her

instant

recognition.

 

S

V

IO

DO

therefore, core pattern: S --

V

--

IO

-- DO

Last week, one local dealer gratuitously made six new cars available for use in the parade.

ADV

 

S

ADV

 

V

DO

 

OC

/

/

T

M

therefore, core pattern:

 

ADV

--

S

-- ADV

--

V

-- DO

-- OC

 

/

/

T

M

The

two

recaptured

prisoners

were

uncomfortable

in

the

truck.

 

S

V

PA

AC

therefore, core pattern: S -- V -- PA -- AC

In

the

summer

Molly Bloom

always

Sughrua: Traditional Grammar: Discussion

looked

beautiful

in

her

red

dress.

ADV

S

ADV

V

PA

AC

/

/

T

F

therefore, core pattern: ADV

--

S

-- ADV

--

V

-- PA

--

AC

It

was

a

hot

afternoon

in

Wyoming.

S

V

PN

NC

therefore, core pattern: S

--

V

-- PN

-- NC

Now, some examples of (ii) above: sentences with two or more independent clauses.

In the fall

the

war

was always there but we did not go to it anymore.

ADV

S

V

ADV

ADV

S

V

DO

ADV

/

/

/

/

T

F

P

F

therefore, core pattern : ADV -- S -- V -- ADV -- ADV

/

S -- V DO ADV

/

/

/

(but)

/

T

F

P

F

The mountains were a long way away and you could see snow on their tops.

S

V

PA

/

S

V

DO

OC

therefore, core pattern: S -- V -- PA

/

S V DO

-- OC

(and)

And examples of (iii) above:

After he published his fourth novel, Novel Algren became the spokesman of oppressed urban society.

Sub.

S

V

DO

Conj.

 

ADV

S

V

PN

NC

/

T

therefore, core pattern:

 

Sub.

--

S

-- V

-- DO

 

Conj

Sughrua: Traditional Grammar: Discussion

ADV

--

S

--

V

-- PN

--

NC

/

T

The sports writer said that the coach of the football team will be replaced by next week.

S

V

S

therefore, core pattern:

S

DO

--

V

V

PA

ADV

/

T

S V PA ADV

/

T

--

DO

We can analyze isolated sentences (as above) as well as a continuous narrative. Consider

the first paragraph from Hemingway’s famous story “In Another Country” (1939). It

consists of 6 sentences at levels (i) and (ii).

INSERT

C

HERE

Now that we have finished with the final category, that of case (b), we can practice

applying all of the categories. The following example was inspired by the soliquoy to

Joyce’s Ulysses (1933).

Molly Bloom could have dreamed of Gibraltar where she was a flower of the mountains.

Number

Person

Gender

Tense

Sing.

3 rd

F

Sing.

3 rd

Past

Sing.

3 rd

N

Sing. Sing. Sing.

3 rd

F

3 rd

Past

3 rd

N

Plural.

3 rd

N

Sughrua: Traditional Grammar: Discussion

Voice

Active

Active

Mood (a)

Indicative

Indicative

 

Mood (b)

Potentiality

-------

Case (a)

Nominative

Objective/

Nom.

Nom.

Genitive

 

Genitive

 

Case (b)

rel.

S

V

PN

NC

 

conj.

 

S

V

DO

OC

The next example also includes parts of speech (Lopez Cruz 2007). In particular, note the

first two columns on the left, which give an excellent summary of the premise of the

categories. It is based on a line from Billy Joel’s song “Piano Man.”

INSERT

D

HERE

Our final example continues “Piano Man(Santiago Bautista 2007). It uses a more

simplistic format than the previous example; however, as well as above, its case (b) level

identifies a dual-level resulting from the inclusion of a dependent clause.

INSERT

Rules.

E

HERE

We are ready for the complete analysis, from parts of speech to categories to rules.

INSERT

F

HERE