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Infinitival, Gerundial and Participial Phrases

Next we come to predicative phrases with verbids which can reasonably be paralleled with predication expressed by finite forms of the verb. These are:

  1. infinitival nexus phrases;

  2. gerundial nexus phrases;

  3. participial nexus phrases.

Like sentences, predicative phrases are binary in their structure, but differ essentially from the latter as to their grammatical organisation and patterning.

A sentence is an independent nexus which forms a complete piece of communication.

A predicative phrase is a dependent nexus which forms a part of a sentence.

The immediate constituents of a sentence are subject and predicate, those of a predicative phrase are linguistically different: the referent of the subjective element of the phrase does not coincide with the referent of the subject of the sentence.

Participial Predicative Phrases

Participial predicative phrases differ in their structure.

They filed in, Mr. Bellby going first, and Soames escorting Winifred after an interval of one minute by his watch. (Galsworthy)

His knowledge of their language being derived from his public school, he did not understand them when they spoke. (Galsworthy)

Andrew lay with half-closed eyes his head resting near her. (Cronin)

Participial phrases are sometimes included by means of the preposition with or without, the latter function on analogy with the prepositions including infinitival predicative phrases.

Someone else was awake, sitting with hands clasped around his knees nearby. (Sillitoe)

With fenders spread like wings we scattered light through all Astoria... (Fitzgerald)

Cf. With no doors to hold it back, he nearly curled up and died at the shock. (Sillitoe)

And here are a few examples of absolute predicative phrases with the "non-verbal" leading element:

Captain Nichols dragged Strickland, bleeding from a wound in his arm, his clothes in rags, into the street. (Maugham)

Coordinate phrases

In a coordinate phrase all the component parts are identical in their syntactic value. The number of its immediate constituents is naturally not limited. In terms of their grammatical organisation, phrases of this type may be subdivided into two groups: syndetic and asyndetic.


Syndetic Coordinate Phrases

In syndetic coordinate phrases the components are joined by function words, so called, conjunctive words or coordinators.

It seems practical to distinguish the following among them:

I and II as well as HI both ... and but rather than either ...or

nor together with neither ... nor

not along with not (only) ... but (also)


Those in the first column are generally placed between the elements they join, those in the middle column may appear in that position and may also be found in split structures. Those in the third column are in two parts and as such are generally called correlatives; the first part appears at the beginning of the structure and the second between its last two components.

Examples of syndetic coordinate phrases are not far to seek.

In the white and black atmosphere stood Macgregor, a rather shamefaced looking Macgregor, without hat or coat, a damp and solemn Macgregor. (Aldridge)

A dull commiseration, together with a vague sense of injury crept about Soames' heart. (Galsworthy)

It is to be noted that in most cases the IC's of a coordinate phrase belong to one and the same morphological class of words. But instances are not few when the coordinate phrase is made up of words belonging to different parts of speech, as in:

Outraged and on edge, Soames recoiled. (Galsworthy)

The repetition of the conjunction in coordinate syndetic phrases is often accomplished for stylistic purposes. Consider the following example:

Your uncle Soames is a match for everybody. He's a very clever man, and good-looking, and wealthy, and most considerate and careful, and not at all old, considering everything. (Galsworthy)

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