Update: 2012-11-24 05:26 PM +0630,


TIL Grammar Glossary


Compiled by U Kyaw Tun (UKT), M.S. (I.P.S.T., U.S.A.), and staff of TIL (Tun Institute of Learning, http://www.tuninst.net ), from various sources. Prepared for students of TIL Computing and Language Center, Yangon, Myanmar. Not for sale.

index.htm | |Top

Contents of this page
Grammar Glossary - S

• san serif • sandhi • sarcasm • satire • search engine • secondary source • second person • semantics • sentence • sentence fragment • sentence modifier • series • serifs • server • setting • sexist language • signal phrase • simile • simple past • singular • slang • source • spam • spoonerism • spatial organization • split infinitive • squinting modifier • Standard English • stanza • stative verb • subject • subject complement • subjective case (subject case) • subjunctive • subordinate clause • subordinating conjunction • subordination • substantive • suffix • summary • superlative • superordinate • swear word • syllable • syllable division • syllogism • symbolism • synchronic • synchronous communication • synecdoche • synonym • syntactic category • syntax • synthesis • synthetic language

UKT Notes
• sandhi • subjunctive (M. Israel) • subjunctive mood (Neil Coffey) • subjunctive mood (Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subjunctive_mood 080711) • syntax

Contents of this page

san serif 

See • serifs.

Contents of this page


See sandhi in my notes.

sandhi n. Linguistics 1. Modification of the sound of a morpheme in certain phonetic contexts, as the difference between the pronunciation of don't in don't you and in don't we. [Sanskrit sa­dhiḥ/ union, sandhi sam together; See sem- 1 in Indo-European Roots. dadhāti  dhī -he places; See dh ē- in Indo-European Roots.]

Contents of this page


From UseE
Sarcasm is a form of irony that is widely used in English especially when people are being humorous. Generally the sarcastic speaker or writer means the exact opposite of the word they use, often intending to be rude or to laugh at the person the words are addressed to.

Contents of this page


From UseE
Satire is a form of humour where the writer or speaker tries to make the reader or listener have a negative opinion about someone, by laughing at them, making them seem ridiculous or foolish etc. If someone is being satirical, their aim is not just to amuse, but to affect the person that they dislike; to hurt them, ruin them, etc.

Contents of this page

search engine

From LBH
A computer program that conducts Internet searches from keywords or directories.
(See pp. 653–59.)

Contents of this page

secondary source

From LBH
A source reporting or analyzing information in other sources, such as a critic's view of a work of art or a sociologist's summary of others' studies.
Contrast • primary source. (See p. 626.)

Contents of this page

second person

See • person.

Contents of this page


From UseE
Semantics is the study of how meaning is generated in language.

Contents of this page


See garden path sentence (psycholinguistics) in G01.htm .

A sentence is made up of clause or clauses. It is important for Myanmars learning ESL (English as Second Language) to realize that language and culture are related very closely, and translating a Burmese sentence into English and vice versa is not straightforward. Culture of the listeners and readers must always be taken into consideration.

From Lonsdale 1899, p.002
{wa-kya.} A group of words, containing a noun or a word or words equivalent to a noun, and a verb, that makes complete sense by itself by expressing a statement, a command, an entreaty, a wish, or a question is called a sentence ; in Burmese it is termed {wa-kya.}. (A footnote adds: This in Pali is {wa-kyδn}). (The examples are from Lonsdale with a change in form of the personal pronouns from "presentable" to "crude" forms, e.g. {thing} --> {ning}, {kywan-noap.} --> {nga}) .

1. Maung Ba goes. -- a statement
  {maung-Ba. thwa: thζΡ}
2. (you) Go. -- a command
  {(ning) thwa:}
3. Let me go. -- an entreaty
  {nga thwa:pa-ra.sι}
4. May you be prosperous. -- a wish
  {ning-to. kaung:sa:pa-sι}
5. Does Maung Ba go? -- a question
  {maung-Ba. thwa:tha.la:}

From LBH
A complete unit of thought, consisting of at least a subject and a predicate that are not introduced by a subordinating word. Sentences can be classed on the basis of their structure in one of four ways.

1. A simple sentence contains one main clause:

I'm leaving.
   UKT note: A simple sentence can be further classified on the basis of the mood into:
   • indicative • imperative • subjunctive.

2. A compound sentence contains at least two main clauses:

I'd like to stay, but I'm leaving.

3. A complex sentence contains one main clause and at least one subordinate clause:

If you let me go now, you'll be sorry.

4. A compound-complex sentence contains at least two main clauses and at least one subordinate clause:

I'm leaving because you want me to, but I'd rather stay.

(See pp. 289–90.)

From UseE
A sentence is a group of words beginning with a capital letter and ending with a full-stop, exclamation or question mark in written language, containing a main verb.

A grammatical unit that is syntactically independent and has a subject that is expressed or, as in imperative sentences, understood and a predicate that contains at least one finite verb.

Contents of this page

sentence fragment

From LBH
A sentence error in which a group of words is set off as a sentence even though it begins with a subordinating word or lacks a subject or a predicate or both. (See Chapter 17.)

* She lost the race. Because she was injured. -- fragmented
   Because, a subordinating conjunction, makes the underlined clause subordinate.

She lost the race because she was injured. -- revised

* He could not light a fire. And thus could not warm the room. -- fragmented
   The underlined word group lacks a subject.
He could not light a fire. Thus he could not warm the room. -- revised

Contents of this page

sentence modifier

From LBH
An adverb or a word or word group acting as an adverb that modifies the idea of the whole sentence in which it appears rather than any specific word:

In fact, people will always complain.

Contents of this page


From LBH
A sequence of three or more items of equal importance:

The children are named John, Hallie, and Nancy.

The items in a series are separated with commas. (See p. 479.)

Contents of this page


From LBH
Small lines on the characters in type fonts, such as the lines along the bottom of this A.
Sans serif type, such as Arial, does not have serifs. (See p. 205.)

Contents of this page


From LBH
A computer that links other computers in a network. Servers transfer data and store files.

Contents of this page


From LBH
The place where the action of a literary work happens. (See p. 798.)

Contents of this page

sexist language

From LBH
Language expressing narrow ideas about men's and women's roles, positions, capabilities, or value. (See pp. 564–65.)

Contents of this page

signal phrase

From LBH
Words that indicate who is being quoted:

"In the future," said Andy Warhol, "everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes."

(For punctuating signal phrases, see pp. 482–84. For using signal phrases to integrate quotations, see pp. 695–97.)

Contents of this page


See • figurative language.

From UseE
A simile is a comparison between two different things, designed to create an unusual, interesting, emotional or other effect often using words such as 'like' or 'as ... as'. Common comparisons with the qualities associated with animals:
[e.g.] as sly as a fox ; as brave as a lion

simile n. 1. A figure of speech in which two essentially unlike things are compared, often in a phrase introduced by like or as, as in “ How like the winter hath my absence been ” or “ So are you to my thoughts as food to life ” (Shakespeare). [Middle English from Latin, from neuter of similis like; See similar ]

Contents of this page

simple past

See • past simple • present simple 

From UseE
The Simple Past tense, also called the Past Simple, is used for past actions that happened either at a specific time, which can either be given by a time phrase (yesterday, last year, etc.) or understood from the context.

Regular verbs add -ed to the base form, or -d if the verbs ends with -e.

Irregular verbs can change in many different ways. The verb form is the same for all persons:

I liked
you liked
she/he/it liked

we liked
they liked

NOTE: After the auxiliary verb, did/didn't, it returns to the base form.
UKT: e.g.:
• Did you take it? <-- You took it. Did you?
• She didn't like it. <-- She liked it.

Contents of this page


See • number • plural

From UseE
This is the form of a noun, pronoun, verb, etc. that is employed when speaking or writing about something of which there was only one :

a girl (1 girl - singular)
two girls (plural)

1. Of, relating to, or being a noun, pronoun, or adjective denoting a single person or thing or several entities considered as a single unit.
2. Of, relating to, or being a verb expressing the action or state of a single subject.

Contents of this page


From LBH
Expressions used by the members of a group to create bonds and sometimes exclude others. Most slang is too vague, short-lived, and narrowly understood to be used in any but very informal writing. (See pp. 560–61.)

From UseE
Slang is language at its most informal, using expressions that many would consider to be grammatically imperfect and sometimes rude. It is often used within small social groups where it can help draw and keep the group together. It changes very quickly in English.

Contents of this page


From LBH
A place where information or ideas may be found: book, article, Web site, work of art, television program, and so on.

Contents of this page


From LBH
To send an irrelevant and unsolicited electronic message to many recipients at once, such as all the subscribers to a discussion list. (See pp. 195–96.)

[UKT: Spelled with Capital S]
Spam 1. A trademark used for a canned meat product consisting primarily of chopped pork pressed into a loaf.

Contents of this page


See • malapropism

From UseE
The Reverend Spooner is well known in England because of a speech problem he is supposed to have had; it is said that he used to mix up the first couple of letters of words, sometimes creating strange sentences. One of the most famous spoonerism attributed to him is when he told a student off because he had 'hissed the mystery lectures' when he meant to say 'missed the history lectures'.

spoonerism n. A transposition of sounds of two or more words, especially a ludicrous one, such as:

* Let me sew you to your sheet  for
Let me show you to your seat.

[After William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930), British cleric and scholar]

Contents of this page

spatial organization

From LBH
In a description of a person, place, or thing, the arrangement of details as they would be scanned by a viewer – for instance, from top to bottom or near to far. (See pp. 43 and 83.)

Contents of this page

split infinitive

From LBH
split infinitive
The often awkward interruption of an infinitive and its marker to by an adverb:

Management decided to immediately introduce the new product.

(See p. 400.)

split infinitive
An infinitive verb form with an element, usually an adverb, interposed between to and the verb form, as in to boldly go.
Usage Note: The split infinitive has been present in English ever since the 14th century, but it was not until the 19th century that grammarians first labeled and condemned the usage. In the 20th century many linguists and writers have rallied to its defense. H.W. Fowler chided that class of people "who would as soon be caught putting their knives in their mouths as splitting an infinitive," but whose aversion springs only "from tame acceptance of the misinterpreted opinion of others."  No plausible rationale has ever been advanced for the rule, though it may arise from a hazy notion that because the Latin infinitive is a single word, the equivalent English construction must be treated as if it were indivisible. Still, many people who dislike the construction avoid it without difficulty. The sense of the sentence To better understand the miners' plight, he went to live in their district is just as easily expressed by To understand the miners' plight better, he went to live in their district. In some cases avoidance of the split infinitive may result in a stylistic improvement. The sentence We are seeking a plan to gradually, systematically, and economically relieve the burden becomes clearer if the adverbs are placed at the end: We are seeking a plan to relieve the burden on our employees gradually, systematically, and economically.  (In an earlier survey the example having the split infinitive was accepted by only 23 percent of the Usage Panel.) But in other cases the effort to avoid a split infinitive may have unfortunate consequences. In The tenant coalition is planning to aggressively seek cooperative ownership of the apartments the city acquired, any attempt to reposition the adverb aggressively would create an ambiguity. In We intend to use every political favor we are owed to soundly defeat this bill and its riders, any other position will create an unnatural rhythm. In We expect our output to more than double in a year, the phrase more than is intrinsic to the sense of the infinitive phrase, though the split infinitive could be avoided by use of another phrase, such as to increase by more than 100 percent. In this example the split infinitive is accepted by 87 percent of the Usage Panel. • Excessive zeal in avoiding the split infinitive may result in an unnecessarily awkward placement of adverbs in constructions involving the auxiliary verbs be and have. When we read sentences like I want this clearly to be understood, we may suspect that the placement of clearly is the result of an effort to avoid the construction to be clearly understood, under the misapprehension that the latter involves a split infinitive. By the same token, there are no grounds for objecting to the position of the adverb in the sentence He is committed to laboriously assembling all of the facts of the case. What is "split" here is not an infinitive but a prepositional phrase.

Contents of this page

squinting modifier 

See • misplaced modifier

Contents of this page

Standard English 

See • Received Pronunciation • Common Errors in English
UKT: Myanmars should note that the word "English" (aka "English language") primarily means the spoken language particularly the pronunciation. This idea of a language is strange to Burmese-Myanmars for whom the adage is {rι:tau. a.mhan/ hpat-tau. a.thδn} which means "what is written is correct; what is spoken is just sound (implying unimportance)". As children, we went to school "to learn {οn~ga.laip sa} -- the "written English": the emphasis is not on the spoken language.

From LBH
Standard English  : The English used and expected by educated writers and readers in colleges and universities, businesses, and professions. (See p. 558.)

From UseE
Standard English is the variety of English that is held to be 'correct' in the sense that it shows none of the regional or other variations that are considered by some to be ungrammatical, or non-standard English. Received Pronunciation often called RP, is the way Standard English is spoken; without regional variations. Standard English and RP are widely used in the media and by public figures, so it has prestige status and is regarded by many as the most desirable form of the language.

Standard English n. The variety of English that is most widely accepted as the spoken and written language of educated speakers in formal and informal contexts and is characterized by generally accepted conventions of spelling, grammar, and vocabulary while admitting some regional differences, especially in pronunciation and vocabulary.

Contents of this page


From UseE
When a poem is divided into groups of lines, often with a regular pattern, these groups are known as stanzas or verses.

Contents of this page

stative verb 

See • dynamic verb

From UseE
A stative verb is a verb that describes a state and consequently are not usually used in the progressive aspect, which is used for incomplete actions in progress.

They own a cottage in Somerset.
(The possession is a state and not an action. We cannot write this sentence in the progressive aspect)

Contents of this page


Simple English sentences are of the form : SVO (Subject-Verb-Object), whereas in Burmese-Myanmar the form is SOV (Subject-Object-Verb). E.g., English: Dog bites man ; Burmese: {hkwι:ka. lu-ko kaik-tθύ} (literal: (dog-{ka.} man-{ko} bite-{tθύ}) where {ka.}, {ko} and {tθύ} are Burmese-Myanmar nominalizers.

From LBH
In grammar, the part of a sentence that names something and about which an assertion is made in the predicate.
The simple subject consists of the noun alone:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

The complete subject includes the simple subject and its modifiers:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

(See p. 255.)

From UseE
The subject or of a sentence is the noun, pronoun or noun phrase that precedes and governs the main verb :

He is a really nice guy.
('He' is the subject of the sentence, controlling the verb and the complement.)

My dog attacked the burglar.
('My dog' is the subject, controlling the verb and the rest of the sentence.)

The noun, noun phrase, or pronoun in a sentence or clause that denotes the doer of the action or what is described by the predicate and that in some languages, such as English, can be identified by its characteristic position in simple sentences and in other languages, such as Latin, by inflectional endings.
     Synonyms: subject matter topic theme These nouns denote the principal idea or point of a speech, a piece of writing, or an artistic work. Subject is the most general: " Well, honor is the subject of my story " (Shakespeare). Matter refers to the material that is the object of thought or discourse: " This distinction seems to me to go to the root of the matter " (William James). A topic is a subject of discussion, argument, or conversation: " They would talk of nothing but high life . . . with other fashionable topics, such as pictures, taste, Shakespeare " (Oliver Goldsmith). Theme refers especially to a subject, an idea, a point of view, or a perception that is developed and expanded on in a work of art: " To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme " (Herman Melville).

Contents of this page

subject complement

See • complement.

Contents of this page

subjective case (subject case)

See • case

The Subject (Subjective, Nominative) Case. If the subject is a pronoun that distinguishes cases, the subjective case form must be chosen. Thus, though we say
     16a Give the hat to whomever,
we also say,
     16b Give the hat to whoever owns it,
     16c 7 Give the hat to whomever owns it,
for in the first example whomever is the object of the preposition to, while in the second example whoever is the subject of the predicate owns and the entire clause "whoever owns it" is the object of the preposition to.
     We noted that a predicate consists of a verb together with whatever adverbial modifiers and completions go with it. When the verb designates no real action, the complement may function simply to complete the subject by providing new information about it. These subjective completions comprise predicate adjectives and predicate nouns as in the following examples.
     17a Justin is studious
     17b Justin looks studious
    17c Justin is a student
As long as we are not dealing with pronouns, such constructions are quite simple. The trouble with pronoun subjective completions is that, although we understand that they should logically be in the subject case, the instincts of word order incline us to prefer objective case forms, which is why you have to be taught not to write
     18 7 * It's me.
and why Christ's question in the King James translation cited above as sentence 10 is properly termed hyper-correct, that is, so correct that it's wrong. The translator has too successfully resisted the desire to say:
     19 Who do men say that I am?
where "who" is the subjective completion of "I am."

Excerpt from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nominative 080710
Some writers of English employ the term subjective case instead of nominative, in order to draw attention to the differences between the "standard" generic nominative and the way it is used in English.
   Generally, when the term subjective case is used, the accusative and dative are collectively labelled as the objective case. This is possible in English because the two have merged; there are no surviving examples where the accusative and the dative are distinct in form, though their functions are still distinct. The genitive case is then usually called the possessive form and often is not considered as a noun case per se; English is then said to have two cases, the subjective and the objective. This view is an oversimplification, but it is didactically useful.

Contents of this page


See • mood
• Subjunctive by Mark Israel, The alt.usage.english ("AUE") newsgroup http://www.alt-usage-english.org/
• Does English Have a Subjunctive Mood? by Neil Coffey
• Subjunctive mood -- Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subjunctive_mood 080711. The full article has been downloaded and edited. I have added my notes with a view to seeing if the Burmese-Myanmar language has subjunctives. See the full article in subjunctive.htm.

From UseE
The subjunctive is the mood of a verb used to show hopes, doubts, wishes etc.. It is not used very much in modern English surviving in a few expressions such as 'If I were you' in the 2nd Conditional and expressions like 'God save the Queen' and 'so be it'.

subjunctive Grammar adj. Abbr. subj. 1. Of, relating to, or being a mood of a verb used in some languages for contingent or hypothetical action, action viewed subjectively, or grammatically subordinate statements. n. Abbr. subj. 1. The subjunctive mood. 2. A subjunctive construction. See note at if . [Late Latin subiūnctīvus from Latin subiūnctus, past participle of subiungere to subjoin, subordinate; See subjoin]

UKT: 'Subjunctive' aka 'subjunctive mood' is an interesting topic from the point of view of the origin of Burmese-Myanmar language, especially in views such as expressed in Wikipedia article (downloaded 080711):

Among the Indo-European languages, only Albanian, Avestan, Ancient Greek, Sanskrit, and to some extent Old Church Slavonic kept the subjunctive and optative fully separate and parallel. However, in Sanskrit, use of the subjunctive is only found in the Vedic language of earliest times, and the optative and imperative are in comparison less commonly used. In the later language (from c.500BC), the subjunctive fell out of use, with the optative or imperative being used instead. However, the first person forms of the subjunctive continue to be used, as they are transferred to the imperative, which formerly, like Greek, had no first person forms.

UKT: If Pali was the proto-language and Sanskrit the "perfect" language, then we should expect Pali to be older than Sanskrit. And it follows that subjunctive should be Pali especially the Pali-Myanmar. Moreover, if Pali-Myanmar and Burmese-Myanmar are closely related, we should also find the subjunctive in Myanmar -- UKT 080717 - the Full-Moon Day of {wa-so}, the Day of the First Principle of Buddhism.

Contents of this page

subordinate clause

See: • clause • dependent clause.

Contents of this page

subordinating conjunction

See • conjunction

Contents of this page


See • coordination

From LBH
The use of grammatical constructions to de-emphasize one element in a sentence by making it dependent on rather than equal to another element:

Although I left six messages for him, the doctor failed to call.

(See pp. 434–38.)

Contents of this page


From LBH  
A word or word group used as a noun.

From UseE 
A Substantive is a term covering all words that can function like a noun, including nouns, the gerund, the adjectival noun and the pronoun.

substantive adj. Abbr. s. sb. subst. 1. Substantial; considerable. 2. Independent in existence or function; not subordinate. 3. Not imaginary; actual; real. 4. Of or relating to the essence or substance; essential: substantive information. 5. Having a solid basis; firm. 6. Grammar Expressing or designating existence; for example, the verb to be. 7. Grammar Designating a noun or noun equivalent. n. Abbr. s. sb. subst. Grammar 1. A word or group of words functioning as a noun. [Middle English substantif self-sufficient, independent from Old French substantive from Late Latin substantīvus from Latin substantia substance; See substance ]

Contents of this page


See • affix • prefix

From LBH
A derivational suffix is a letter or group of letters that can be added to the end of a root word to make a new word, often a different part of speech:

child --> childish 
shrewd --> shrewdly
visual --> visualize
(See p. 598.)

An inflectional suffix adapts a word to different grammatical relations:

boy --> boys 
fast --> faster
tack --> tacked

From UseE
Suffixes are groups of letters placed after a word to modify its meaning or change it into a different word group, from an adjective to an adverb, etc.

(the suffix -ly changes the word from an adjective to an adverb)

(the suffix -ed changes the verb from the present to the past)

Contents of this page


From LBH
A condensation and restatement of source material in one's own words and sentence structures, useful in reading for comprehending the material (see pp. 127–28) and in research writing for presenting the gist of the original author's idea (pp. 678–79). Summaries appearing in a paper must always be acknowledged in source citations.

Contents of this page


See • comparative • comparison

From UseE
The Superlative is the form of an adjective or adverb that shows which thing has that quality above or below the level of the others. There must be three or more to use the superlative. It takes the definite article and short adjectives add -est and longer ones take 'most':

Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world.
It is the most expensive restaurant I've ever been to.

Contents of this page


See • antonym • acronym • synonym

From UseE
A superordinate is a general term that includes various different words representing narrower categories, called Hyponyms:

Superordinate: - Animal
Hyponym: - cat, horse, etc.

From AHTD 

Of higher rank, status, or value.
Logic Of or being the relation of a universal proposition to a particular proposition in which the terms are the same and occur in the same order. [ super- (sub)ordinate ] su "peror"dinate n. su "per·or"dinate"v. su "per·or"dina"tion n.

Contents of this page

swear word

See • expletive

From UseE
The unacceptable and rude words of a language are known as the swear words , or bad language. They include the strongest and most offensive words; stronger than slang and colloquial language.

swearword n. 1. An obscene or blasphemous word.
UKT: Myanmars should note the meaning of "blasphemous" given by AHTD.

blasphemous adj. 1. Impiously irreverent. See note at profane . [Middle English blasfemous from Late Latin blasphēmus from Greek blasphēmos from blasphēmein to blaspheme; See blaspheme ] blas “phe·mous·ly adv. blas “phe·mous·ness n.

UKT: Since the word "blasphemous" has a connection to the religion and culture of a person, Myanmars who are mostly of Theravada Buddhist faith should remember that what a foreigner consider to be normal may be highly blasphemous to him (a Myanmar) when in fact the foreigner has no intention of hurting the feeling of others.
   As a personal note I should add: During my very first trip outside Myanmar, I spent two years in Wisconsin in the USA. I underwent training as a chemical engineer and a chemist in a paper mill in Milwaukee where I became "Americanized" and came to use the swear words as freely as a mill-hand. And sometimes I would say "Jesus" or "Christ" at which my ever-forgiving American friends would laugh and say "Joe, you should say 'By Buddha' ". Little did they realize that if I were to say "Buddha", it would not be blasphemous but religious. -- UKT 080711.

Contents of this page


n. Abbr. syl. syll. 1. Linguistics a. A unit of spoken language consisting of a single uninterrupted sound formed by a vowel, diphthong, or syllabic consonant alone, or by any of these sounds preceded, followed, or surrounded by one or more consonants. b. One or more letters or phonetic symbols written or printed to approximate a spoken syllable. 2. The slightest bit of spoken or written expression: Do not alter a syllable of this message. v. tr. syllabled syllabling syllables Linguistics 1. To pronounce in syllables. [Middle English sillable from Anglo-Norman alteration of Old French sillabe from Latin syllaba from Greek sullab ē from sullabein, second aorist of sullambanein to combine in pronunciation sun- syn- lambanein to take]

UKT: Unless you know the pronunciation of a word, you cannot count the number of syllables in it. Since, the pronunciation can vary from place to place, from country to country, and from a time-period to another, the syllable count can differ. This is especially true in loan words. Always consult a pronouncing dictionary like Daniel Jones Pronouncing Dictionary which I have made the standard for my works: English Pronouncing Dictionary by Daniel Jones. 16th ed. Edited by Peter Roach, James Hartman and Jane Setter. Cambridge University Press, 2003.

From UseE
A word can be divided into syllables. These are sounds that can be said without interruption and are usually a vowel which can have consonants before and/or after it.

<Elevate> has three syllables: el-ev-ate
Dictionaries usually give you an indication of syllable count, e.g. AHTD gives for <elevate> el·e·vate

Contents of this page

syllable division

See • syllable

From UseE
TYPES: • Monosyllabic • Disyllabic • Polysyllabic

Contents of this page


From LBH
A form of deductive reasoning in which two premises stating generalizations or assumptions together lead to a conclusion.

Hot stoves can burn me. -- Premise 1
This stove is hot
. -- Premise 2
This stove can burn me
. -- Conclusion

See also deductive reasoning. (See pp. 167–69.)

Contents of this page


From LBH
The use of a concrete thing to suggest something larger and more abstract, as a red rose may symbolize passion or romance. (See p. 798.)

Contents of this page


See • diachronic

From UseE
A synchronic approach looks at language at a particular point in time, rather than over time.

Contents of this page

synchronous communication

From LBH
Real-time, simultaneous communication over the Internet, analogous to a conference call on a telephone. MOOs, MUDs, and IRC (Internet relay chat) are examples.
(See pp. 250–51, 661–62.)

Contents of this page


From UseE
A Synecdoche is a word that refers to a part of something to mean the whole:
'All hands on deck' is an example in which 'hands' is used to mean 'people'.

synecdoche n. A figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole (as hand  for sailor ), the whole for a part (as the law  for police officer ), the specific for the general (as cutthroat  for assassin ), the general for the specific (as thief  for pickpocket ), or the material for the thing from which it is made (as steel  for sword ). [Middle English alteration( influenced by Latin synecdochē) of Middle English synodoches from Medieval Latin synodoche alteration of Latin synecdochē  from Greek sunekdokhē from sunekdekhesthai to take on a share of sun- syn- ekdekhesthai to understand( ek- out of eghs ) ( dekhesthai to take) ;See dek- in Indo-European Roots.]

Contents of this page


See • antonym • homonym .

From LBH
Words with approximately but not exactly the same meanings, such as snicker, giggle, and chortle. (See p. 568.)

From UseE 
A synonym is a word that means the same as another word, or more or less the same.
[E.g.] :    <Movie> is a synonym of <film>.
In this example the former is more common in American English and the latter in British English.
[UKT: In the 1930's in Burma now Myanmar, <movie> was known as "bioscope". -- 080620]

Contents of this page

syntactic category

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syntactic_category 080620

A syntactic category is either a phrasal category, such as noun phrase or verb phrase, which can be decomposed into smaller syntactic categories, or a lexical category, such as noun or verb, which cannot be further decomposed. The three criteria used in defining syntactic categories are:

1. The type of meaning it expresses
2. The type of affixes it takes
3. The structure in which it occurs

In terms of phrase structure rules, phrasal categories can occur to the left side of the arrow while lexical categories cannot. The lexical categories are traditionally called the parts of speech. They include nouns, verbs, adjectives, and so on.

Contents of this page


See syntax in my notes.

From LBH
In sentences, the grammatical relations among words and the ways those relations are indicated.

From UseE
Syntax is the study of the rules governing sentence structure, the way words work together to make up a sentence.

Contents of this page


From LBH
Drawing connections among the elements within a work (such as the images in a poem) or among entire works (entire poems). Synthesis is an essential skill in critical thinking, reading, and writing (see pp. 133–34) and in research writing (pp. 673–74).

Contents of this page

synthetic language (inflectional language)

Entered into this file: 090919
Excerpt from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_language 090820

A synthetic language, in linguistic typology, is a language with a high morpheme-per-word ratio in one word. This linguistic classification is largely independent of morpheme-usage classifications (such as fusional, agglutinative, etc.), although there is a common tendency for agglutinative languages to exhibit synthetic properties.

Synthetic languages are frequently contrasted with isolating languages [non-inflectional language]. It is more accurate to conceive of languages as existing on a continuum, with strictly isolating (consistently one morpheme per word) at one end and highly polysynthetic (in which a single word may contain as much information as an entire English sentence) at the other extreme. Synthetic languages tend to lie around the middle of this scale.

Contents of this page

UKT notes


From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandhi 080716

Sandhi (Sanskrit saṃdhi संधि "joining") [UKT: The first grapheme in Devanagari is the equivalent of {tha.}] is a cover term for a wide variety of phonological processes that occur at morpheme or word boundaries (thus belonging to what is called morphophonology). Examples include the fusion of sounds across word boundaries and the alteration of sounds due to neighboring sounds or due to the grammatical function of adjacent words. Sandhi occurs particularly prominently in Sanskrit phonology, hence its name, but many other languages have it.

UKT: The Sanskrit संधि on conversion to Burmese-Myanmar gives: {thδn-Di}.
However, MLC Myanmar-Myanmar Dictionary, p337 gives:
Notice the difference in spelling between that derived from Sanskrit-Devanagari and Pali-Myanmar

As a non-English word, the pronunciation of the word "sandhi" is rather diverse among English speakers. According to Sanskrit phonology it can be pronounced [sən̪d̪ʱi]. English pronunciations include /ˈsʌndi/ (identical with "Sunday" for some British English speakers), /ˈsζndi/ (identical with "sandy" for those speakers without the bad-lad split), and /ˈsɑːndi/.

Types of sandhi
• Internal sandhi features the alteration of sounds within words at morpheme boundaries, as in sympathy (syn- + pathy).
• External sandhi refers to changes found at word boundaries, such as in the pronunciation [tɛm bʊks] for ten books. This is not true of all dialects of English. The Linking R of some dialects of English is a kind of external sandhi, as is the process called liaison in the French language

UKT: DJPD16 does not give <ten books> as such, but as separate words (without liaison) (/.../ is from DJPD16 and [...] from Wikipedia]:
/ten bʊks/ --> [tɛm bʊks]
Notice the change from <n> to <m> in the coda. See also the Information panel on 'Liaison" in DJPD16-315.

While it may be extremely common in speech, sandhi (especially external) is typically ignored in spelling, as is the case in English, with the exception of the distinction between "a" and "an" (sandhi is, however, reflected in the writing system of Sanskrit). External sandhi effects can sometimes become morphologized (i.e. apply only in certain morphological and syntactic environments) and, over time, turn into consonant mutations.

Most tonal languages have tone sandhi, in which the tones of words alter according to pre-determined rules. For example: Mandarin has four tones: a high monotone, a rising tone, a falling-rising tone, and a falling tone. In the common greeting nǐ hǎo, both words in isolation would normally have the falling-rising tone. However, this is difficult to say, so the tone on   is pronounced as (but still written nǐ in Hanyu Pinyin).

Go back sandhi-note-b

Contents of this page

subjunctive (M. Israel)

From Subjunctive by Mark Israel http://alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxsubjun.html 080715

Present Subjunctive: The present subjunctive is the same in form as the infinitive without "to".  This is also the same form as the present indicative, except in the third person singular and in forms of the verb "to be". The present subjunctive is used:

1. in third-person commands:  "Help, somebody save me!"  Most third-person commands (although not those addressed to "somebody") are  now expressed with "let" instead.  The following (current but set) formulas would probably use "let" if they were being coined today:  "So be it"; "Manners be hanged!"; "... be damned"; "Be it known that..."; "Far be it from me to..."; "Suffice it to say that..."

2. in third person wishes.  Most third-person wishes are now prefixed with "may" instead, as would the following formulas be: "God save the Queen!"; "God bless you"; "God help you"; "Lord love a duck"; "Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done."; "Heaven forbid!"; "The Devil take him!"; "Long live the king!"; "Perish the thought!"

3. in formulas where it means "No matter how..." or "Even if...": "Come what may, ..."; "Be that as it may, ..."; "Though all care be exercised..."; "Be he ever so..."

4. after "that" clauses to introduce a situation that the actor wants to bring about.  Used to introduce a formal motion ("I move that Mr Smith be appointed chairman"); after verbs like "demand", "insist", "propose", "prefer", "recommend", "resolve", "suggest"; and after phrases like "it is advisable/desirable/essential/fitting/imperative/important/necessary/urgent/vital that".  "Should" can also be used in such clauses.  This use of  the subjunctive had become archaic in Britain in the first half of the 20th century, but has been revived under U.S. influence.
    Note the difference between "It is important that America has an adequate supply of hydrogen bombs" (America has an adequate supply of H-bombs, and this is important) and "It is important that America have an adequate supply of hydrogen bombs" (America probably *lacks* an adequate supply, and must acquire one).

5. after "lest".  "Should" can also be used after "lest".  After the synonymous "in case", the plain indicative is usual.

6. "Come...", meaning "When ... comes"

Past Subjunctive: The past subjunctive is the same in form as the past indicative, except in the past subjunctive singular of "to be", which is "were" instead of "was". The past subjunctive is used:

1. for counterfactual conditionals:  "If I were..." or (literary) "Were I...".  In informal English, substitution of the past indicative form ("If I was...") is common.  But note that speakers who make this substitution are *still* distinguishing possible conditions from counterfactual ones, by a change of tense:

    "As if" and "as though" were originally always used to introduce counterfactuals, but are now often used in "looks as if", "sounds as though", etc., to introduce things that the speaker actually believes ("It looks as if" = "It appears that").  In such cases the present indicative is often used.  ("As if" and "as though" are exceptions to the above table in that they take the past subjunctive, not the pluperfect subjunctive, for counterfactuals in the past.  The past tense of "If he were a fool, he would mention it" is "If he had been a fool, he would have mentioned it"; but the past tense of "He talks as if he were a fool" is "He talked as if he were a fool."  "He talked as if he had been a fool" would mean that he seemed, not foolish, but regretful of earlier foolishness.)
    Fowler says that there is no "sequence of moods" requirement in English:  it's "if I were to say that I was wrong", not "if I were to say that I were wrong".

2. for counterfactual wishes:  "I wish I were...";  "If only I were..."; (archaic) "Would that I were...".  Again, substitution of the past indicative is common informally.  Achievable wishes are usually expressed with various verbs plus the infinitive:
    "I wish to...", "I'd like you to..."

3. in archaic English, sometimes to introduce the apodosis ("then" part) of a conditional:  "then I were" = "then I would be".

4. in "as it were" (a formula indicating that the previous expression was coined for the occasion or was not quite precise -- literally, "as if it were so").

Go back subjunctive-m-israel-note-b

Contents of this page

subjunctive mood (N.Coffey)

Does English Have a Subjunctive Mood -- by Neil Coffey
The alt.usage.english ("AUE") newsgroup http://www.alt-usage-english.org/ (first download before 2004)
http://alt-usage-english.org/subjunctive_supplement.html (080711)
Webmaster's note: In the AUE FAQ, there is a discussion of the various uses in English of the present and past subjunctive. That discussion is presumably based upon the assumption that there is a well-defined subjunctive mood in English. Neil Coffey questions whether or not the (so-called) English subjunctive really constitutes a subjunctive mood, and suggests that what people typically refer to by the term 'subjunctive' is not a single phenomenon but several different phenomena.

Some languages have what we can say are subjunctive forms: that is, verb forms which, in certain syntactical constructions, replace the 'ordinary' forms (e.g. French 'vienne', from the verb 'venir', replaces forms 'vient'/'venait'/'viendra'/ 'viendrait' in certain subordinate clauses).

English has a handful of constructions which, because they derive from previously-existing subjunctive forms, can on the surface appear like the subjunctive forms we observe in other languages. However, this superficial similarity does not undermine the fact that the defining characteristics of subjunctive forms are syntactic rather than semantic; the fact that a particular instance of a verb in English appears to denote e.g. contrary-to-factness (a notion which, somewhat exaggeratedly, is typically associated with "the subjunctive") is not by itself an indicator of whether that verb is a subjunctive form or not, and we should note in particular that there is no such thing as a single 'subjunctive meaning': in languages that have them, subjunctive forms are used in constructions that denote a variety of meanings, and the use to which they're put differs from language to language.

In order to show that the so-called subjunctive in English is nowadays probably simply a conspiracy, let us consider the following sentences which might traditionally be thought of as constituting examples of 'subjunctive':

[1a] They requested that he be banned from driving.
[1b] They requested that he not be banned from driving.
[1c] They requested that he should be banned from driving.
[2a] Be that as it may.
[2b] So be it.
[2c] God praise the queen.
[3] If I were you, I'd be careful.

Now, on closer analysis, it turns out these constructions differ in their nature to the subjunctive forms we observe in other languages. In particular, true subjunctive forms behave as conjugated forms with regard to phenomena such as negation and contraction. In English, on the other hand, not only do so-called subjunctive forms in e.g. construction (1a) resemble the infinitive 100% of the time, but they actually behave like infinitives with respect to the formation of their negative (cf. 1a->1b) and the impossibility of contraction (*he've; *she've). Sentences such as (1a) are consistent in their behaviour with actually constituting a covert modal (which we'll denote as [M]) followed by an infinitive:

[1a] They requested that he [M] be banned from driving.
[1b] They requested that he [M] not be banned from driving.
[1c] They requested that he should be banned from driving.
[1d] They requested that he should not be banned from driving.

Clearly there are then no more grounds for calling (1c) an example of subjunctive than (1a) or (1b): a modal is involved in each case, and it so happens that a different modal ([M] or 'should', and also probably 'might') can be chosen. This then leaves fixed expressions (2a-2c), which can be analysed in a similar way or else excluded from analysis on the grounds that they are fixed expressions, and (3), which must be analysed as a fixed formula.

Note that in saying that the 'were' in (3) was a past subjunctive form (as is popularly suggested), we would be proposing that speakers acquiring the language detected the presence of an entire paradigm in which only a single verb had a form different from the indicative (and even that resembles another form of the verb 'be'); this is somewhat implausible.

End of article
Go back subjunctive-n-coffey-note-b

Contents of this page

Subjunctive Mood (Wikipedia)

Excerpt from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subjunctive_mood 080711
See the full article in subjunctive.htm

In grammar, the subjunctive mood (sometimes referred to as the conjunctive mood) is a verb mood that exists in many languages. It is typically used in dependent clauses to express wishes, commands, emotion, possibility, judgment, necessity, or statements that are contrary to fact at present. The details of subjunctive use vary from language to language.

Among the Indo-European languages, only Albanian, Avestan, Ancient Greek, Sanskrit, and to some extent Old Church Slavonic kept the subjunctive and optative fully separate and parallel. However, in Sanskrit, use of the subjunctive is only found in the Vedic language of earliest times, and the optative and imperative are in comparison less commonly used. In the later language (from c.500BC), the subjunctive fell out of use, with the optative or imperative being used instead. However, the first person forms of the subjunctive continue to be used, as they are transferred to the imperative, which formerly, like Greek, had no first person forms.

UKT: If the assumption that Pali being the proto-language is older than Sanskrit, then should we expect to see it in Pali especially the Pali-Myanmar? If Pali-Myanmar and Burmese-Myanmar are closely related, we should also find the subjunctive in Myanmar -- UKT 080711

The subjunctive in English

UKT: Wikipedia article treats the English subjunctive very extensively under subheadings:
further subdivided into other headings. In the following I have indicated the passages that
are related to English with the phrase "in English".

FORM in English
The subjunctive in Modern English is easily distinguished in a great variety of contexts where the sense is past tense, but the form of the subjunctive verb required is present: "It was required that we go to the back of the line. " Were it not subjunctive, the form of "to go" for something in the past would have been went. Compare with the non-subjunctive: "Everyone knows that we went to the back of the line."


<I own> 
{nga peing tθύ}  {nga tha peing tθύ}

<I am>
{nga hpric tθύ}  {nga tha hpric tθύ}

<I owned>
{nga peing-hkθ. tθύ}  {nga tha peing-hkθ. tθύ}

<I was>
{nga hpric-hkθ. tθύ}  {nga tha hpric-hkθ. tθύ}

As shown in the above table, the form of the subjunctive is distinguishable from the indicative in only three circumstances:

1. in the third person singular of the present tense,
2. with the verb to be in the present tense, and
3. in the first person singular and third person singular of verb to be in the past tense.

The modal auxiliaries do not have present subjunctive forms.

In Early Modern English, the past subjunctive was distinguishable from the past indicative not only in the verb to be (as in Modern English) but also in the second-person singular of all verbs. For example: indicative thou sattest, but subjunctive thou sat.

Nevertheless, in some texts in which the pronoun thou is used a final -est or -st is sometimes added; for example, thou beest appears frequently in the work of Shakespeare and some of his contemporaries.

Present and past subjunctive in English
The terms present subjunctive and past subjunctive can be misleading, as they describe forms rather than meanings: the past and present subjunctives are so called because they resemble the past and present indicatives, respectively, but the difference between them is a difference in modality, not a temporal one.

For example, in "I asked that it be done yesterday," be done (a present subjunctive) has no present-tense sense; and likewise, in "If that were true, I'd know it," were (a past subjunctive) has no past-tense sense.

The pluperfect subjunctive in English
Since the "past subjunctive" is not a true past tense, it uses as its past tense what is structurally its perfect aspect form. This past tense is known as the past perfect subjunctive or pluperfect subjunctive; it is formed using had (the past subjunctive of to have) plus the verb's past participle.

The pluperfect subjunctive is used like the past subjunctive, except that it expresses a past-tense sense. So, for example:

• If I had known (yesterday), I would have done something about it.
• If I had seen you, I definitely would have said hello.
• I wouldn't be here if he hadn't helped me.

<If I had known (yesterday), I would have done something about it. >

{nga ma.nι.ka.tha thi.hkθ.ring tic-hku.hku.tau. loap-hta:mha-pau.>
literal: (I yesterday{ka.}{tha} know{hkθ.ring} one-thing{tau.} do{hta:}{mha-pau.})

<If I had seen you, I would have greeted you. >

{nga tha ming:ko twι.hkθ.ring ming:ko nhoat-hsak mha-pau.}
literal: (I{tha} you{ko} see{hkθ.ring} you{ko} greet{mha-pau.})

When used in the construction of a counterfactual statement as in the examples above, it is paired with the conditional perfect viz. "If I had [not] X, then I would [not] have Y". The (arguably) canonical example of the counterfactual actually eschews the pluperfect subjunctive: If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake. This should, of course, be If I Had Known… .

If a clause is in a past tense, then a clause subordinate to it cannot be in the past subjunctive, though it might be in the pluperfect subjunctive; however, if it is in a present tense, then a clause subordinate to it might be in either of the two, depending on meaning.

The pluperfect subjunctive is often replaced with the past subjunctive in colloquial speech, a substitution that is commonly considered incorrect. (See prescription and description.)

(Note that by contrast, the present perfect subjunctive — that he have done — while logically and theoretically possible, is not much used in modern English.)

Future subjunctive in English
A future subjunctive can be constructed using the conjugated form of the verb "to be" plus the infinitive or with the usage of the modal auxiliary verb "should". Note that the "were" clauses result in the present conditional, while the "should" clauses result in the future indicative. For example:

• If I were to die tomorrow, then you would inherit everything.
• If you were to give the money to me, then I would say no more about it.
• If I should go, then will you feed the hens?
• If he should fall, who will carry the flag in his place?

Construction by inversion in English
Where the subjunctive is used after “if” in a counterfactual condition (see below), the same effect can be achieved by omitting the “if” and inverting the verb and subject.

• If I were the President... / Were I the President...
• If he had a car with him... / Had he a car with him...

Construction using a modal verb in English
The subjunctive mood can be expressed using the modal verbs shall (should) and may (might).

• Should the teacher come, I will speak with him.
• (May) the Lord bless you and keep you.
• He wrote it in his diary so that he might remember.

The word would (the past tense of "will") can also be used for the past (for example, "He wrote it in his diary so that he would remember"), but it cannot be used in the present or future tense ("Would the teacher come, I will speak with him" is incorrect and confusing).

USAGE in English

As well as being preserved in fossilized phrases, the subjunctive is used in English to express a command, desire, hypothesis, purpose, doubt, or supposition.

Set phrases in English
The subjunctive is used in a number of fixed phrases, relics from an older form of the language where it was much more common. Some could be misconstrued as the imperative mood. Common examples are: • if need be  • as it were  • If I were you; were I you  • be that as it may • (May God) bless you!  • come Monday (Tuesday, etc.) • come what may • (May God) damn it! • far be it from (or for) me  • till death do us part  • God save our gracious Queen ,  God bless America , God keep our land glorious and free , God rest ye merry gentlemen, etc. • (May) Heaven forfend/forbid  • so be it  • suffice it to say • woe betide  • (May) peace be with you  • long live the king  • the powers that be • albeit (a synthesis of all be it, i.e. although it be) • truth be told • rue the day • would that it were • rest in peace  • let (may) it be known  • a dream come true

To express a command, request, or suggestion in English
Content clauses expressing commands, requests, or suggestions commonly use the present subjunctive; such a clause may be introduced by a verb like propose, suggest, recommend, move (in the parliamentary sense), demand, or mandate, by an adjective like imperative, important, adamant, or necessary, or by a noun like insistence or proposal.

This use of the subjunctive is known as the mandative subjunctive or the jussive subjunctive and is said to be the most common use of the subjunctive in English (subjun-wiki-fn01). Other authorities say this use is much less common than that in suppositions or hypotheses (e.g. "If she asked for help, I'd help her.") and is often not found in UK English, even in respected news media.

Instead, UK English often uses present indicative or even past indicative − which are both considered incorrect by many people in the UK and (prescriptive) UK authorities on language usage − or a construction with "should". Much time is spent in the UK in trying to prevent this language change well underway in UK English, and the use with "should" is arguably better because not considered as ungrammatical by most. So instead of writing No wonder the Tory Party turned him down as a possible candidate, suggesting he went away and came back with a better public image. as in the Guardian (which would be almost impossible to find in any US newspapers, which would always use the traditional go away and come back), it would be considered less ungrammatical to use should go away. Some authorities like Ernest Gowers even recommend the use with should (in UK English) instead of the untenable traditional forms (subjun-wiki-fn02).

Note that the present subjunctive is used in these cases regardless of the actual time reference (which must be conveyed by the tense of the main verb):

• I move(d) that the bill be put to a vote.
• I ask(ed) that he be shown mercy.
• It is (or was) necessary that we not forget our instructions.
• Her insistence that he leave seems (or seemed) rude.

Some of these words have two senses: one that introduces a clause in the indicative, and one that introduces a clause in the subjunctive. For example, insist can mean assert forcefully and persistently, in which case it introduces the indicative (He insisted that he was innocent), or it can mean demand forcefully and persistently, in which case it introduces the subjunctive (He insisted that he be given the chance to prove it). This use is typically North American English. The verb in such constructions is sometimes mistakenly believed to be a sort of infinitive, contributing to the notion of the dying subjunctive.

Sometimes the verb of a main clause can be in the subjunctive mood, without any explicit word like the above; this carries the force of a third-person request. This is the usage found in many set expressions, such as God bless you.

• America, America, God shed His grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood ("America the Beautiful")
• God save our gracious Queen

The traditional English text of the Aaronic blessing is cast entirely in the subjunctive, with jussive force:

The Lord bless thee and keep thee. The Lord make his face to shine upon thee. The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee and give thee peace.

To express a wish in English
The past subjunctive is used after the verb to wish: I wish he were here or I wished he were there. This use of the subjunctive is sometimes known as the "volitional" subjunctive:

• Oh I wish I were in the land of cotton.

To express a hypothesis in English
The past subjunctive is used after the conjunction if in a contrary-to-fact protasis. For example:

• If I were a millionaire, I would buy a sports car.
• If he had a car with him, he could drive us there.
• If I were a rich man...

In the same vein, the past subjunctive is used following the conjunctions as if and as though to express a contrary-to-fact situation that reality is supposed to resemble:

• She looked as though she were going to kill him, but after glaring for a bit, she just stormed off.
• He tried to explain it — as if he knew anything about the subject!

Note that the past subjunctive is sometimes used in expressing situations that are not necessarily contrary to fact:

• ? I'm torn; if I were to go with choice A, I'd be better off in the short term, but if I were to go with choice B, I might be better off in the long term.
 • ? Bring an umbrella; looks as if it were going to rain soon.

To express a purpose in English
The conjunction lest, indicating a negative purpose, generally introduces a subjunctive clause:

• I eat lest I die.
• I'll place the book back on the shelf, lest it get lost.

The conjunction in order that, indicating a positive purpose, also sometimes introduces a subjunctive clause, though it more commonly introduces a clause using the auxiliary verb may (or in the past tense, might):

• I'm putting your dinner in the oven in order that it (may) keep warm.
• He wrote it in his diary in order that he (might) remember.

To express a doubt or supposition in English
The subjunctive is sometimes used after other conjunctions to express doubt or supposition, although this usage is nowadays more often replaced by the indicative.

• I will not let thee go, except [=unless] thou bless me. (Genesis 32:26)
• Murder, though it have no tongue, will speak.
• Whoever he be, he shall not go unpunished.
• But [=although] he were dead, yet shall he live. (New Testament)


The subjunctive has sometimes been used simply as a conditioned variant that follows "if" and similar words even in the absence of a hypothetical situation.

• Johnny asked me if I were afraid. (Barbara in Night of the Living Dead (1968))

In the example quoted, "if" is a substitute for the unambiguous word "whether" ("Johnny asked me whether I was afraid"), and lacks the usual, "in the event that" meaning that it has in other usage such as "If we go to bed now, we'll be up at three o'clock".


In many dialects of English, the indicative can take the place of the subjunctive, although this is considered erroneous in formal speech and writing. The similarity of the subjunctive and the past tense has led to the confusion between the two, and the error is evident in various pop culture references and music lyrics.

• If I was President...
• If he was a ghost...
• If I was a rich girl...

However, in the context of the examples above, inversion cannot occur with the indicative as it would with the subjunctive; the following are ungrammatical, except insofar as they could be misinterpreted as questions:

• Was I the President...
• Was he a ghost...

Furthermore, many of the fossil phrases are often re-analyzed as imperative forms rather than as the subjunctive.

According to the Random House College Dictionary, "Although the subjunctive seems to be disappearing from the speech of many, its use is still the mark of the educated speaker." (subjun-wiki-fn03)

The subjunctive is not uniform in all varieties of spoken English. However it is preserved in speech, at least in North American English and in many dialects of British English. While use of the subjunctive in natural, informal speech is almost universal among educated speakers, its use is becoming very infrequent among large portions of the population. Some dialects replace it with the indicative or construct it using a modal verb (except perhaps in the most formal literary discourse).

Through the years, some have advocated the formal extinguishment of the subjunctive. W. Somerset Maugham said, "The subjunctive mood is in its death throes, and the best thing to do is to put it out of its misery as soon as possible." (subjun-wiki-fn04)

Wikipedia foontnotes

subjun-wiki-fn01 Quirk, Randolph; Greenbaum, Sidney; Leech, Geoffrey; Svartik, Jan (1985). "A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language". Longman. ISBN 0-582-51734-6  (subjun-wiki-fn01b)
subjun-wiki-fn02 Bryson, Bill. The Penguin Dictionary of Troublesome Words. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-051200-4 (subjun-wiki-fn02b)
subjun-wiki-fn03 Stein, Jess, Ed. (1989). Random House College Dictionary, Revised, 1308. (subjun-wiki-fn03b)
subjun-wiki-fn04 Maugham, William Somerset (1949). A Writer's Notebook. Doubleday, p. 323. OCLC 365849. (subjun-wiki-fn04b)

Wikipedia bibliography

• Curme, George O. (1977). "A Grammar of the English Language". Verbatim. ISBN 0-930454-01-4 (reprint of 1931 edition from D. C. Heath and Company)
• Chalker, Sylvia (1995). "Dictionary of English Grammar". Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-860055-0
• Fowler, H. W. (1926). "A Dictionary of Modern English Usage". Oxford University Press.
• Hardie, Ronald G. (1990). "English Grammar". Harper Collins. ISBN 0-00-458349-3
• Nesfield, J. C. (1939). "Manual of English Grammar and Composition". Macmillan.

Go back subjunctive-wiki-note-b

Contents of this page


From: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syntax 080716

In linguistics, syntax (from Ancient Greek συν- syn-, "together", and τάξις tαxis, "arrangement") is the study of the principles and rules for constructing sentences in natural languages. In addition to referring to the discipline, the term syntax is also used to refer directly to the rules and principles that govern the sentence structure of any individual language, as in "the syntax of Modern Irish". Modern research in syntax attempts to describe languages in terms of such rules. Many professionals in this discipline attempt to find general rules that apply to all natural languages. The term syntax is also sometimes used to refer to the rules governing the behavior of mathematical systems, such as logic, artificial formal languages, and computer programming languages.

Early history
Works on grammar were being written long before modern syntax came about; the Aṣṭādhyāyī of Pāṇini {pa-Ni.ni.} is often cited as an example of a pre-modern work that approaches the sophistication of a modern syntactic theory (synt-fn01). In the West, the school of thought that came to be known as "traditional grammar" began with the work of Dionysius Thrax. [Dionysius Thrax (Διονύσιος ὁ Θρᾷξ) (170 BC‑90 BC) was a Hellenistic grammarian who lived and is thought by some to have worked in Alexandria and later at Rhodes. -- Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysius_Thrax 080716]

For centuries, work in syntax was dominated by a framework known as grammaire gιnιrale, first expounded in 1660 by Antoine Arnauld in a book of the same title. This system took as its basic premise the assumption that language is a direct reflection of thought processes and therefore there is a single, most natural way to express a thought. That way, coincidentally, was exactly the way it was expressed in French.

However, in the 19th century, with the development of historical-comparative linguistics, linguists began to realize the sheer diversity of human language, and to question fundamental assumptions about the relationship between language and logic. It became apparent that there was no such thing as a most natural way to express a thought, and therefore logic could no longer be relied upon as a basis for studying the structure of language.

The Port-Royal grammar modeled the study of syntax upon that of logic (indeed, large parts of the Port-Royal Logic were copied or adapted from the Grammaire gιnιrale) (synt-fn02)). Syntactic categories were identified with logical ones, and all sentences were analyzed in terms of "Subject – Copula – Predicate". Initially, this view was adopted even by the early comparative linguists such as Franz Bopp.

The central role of syntax within theoretical linguistics became clear only in the 20th century, which could reasonably be called the "century of syntactic theory" as far as linguistics is concerned. For a detailed and critical survey of the history of syntax in the last two centuries, see the monumental work by Graffi (2001).

There are a number of theoretical approaches to the discipline of syntax. Many linguists (e.g. Noam Chomsky) see syntax as a branch of biology, since they conceive of syntax as the study of linguistic knowledge as embodied in the human mind. Others (e.g. Gerald Gazdar) take a more Platonistic view, since they regard syntax to be the study of an abstract formal system (synt-fn03). Yet others (e.g. Joseph Greenberg) consider grammar a taxonomical device to reach broad generalizations across languages. Some of the major approaches to the discipline are listed below.

Generative grammar 
The hypothesis of generative grammar is that language is a structure of the human mind. The goal of generative grammar is to make a complete model of this inner language (known as i-language). This model could be used to describe all human language and to predict the grammaticality of any given utterance (that is, to predict whether the utterance would sound correct to native speakers of the language). This approach to language was pioneered by Noam Chomsky. Most generative theories (although not all of them) assume that syntax is based upon the constituent structure of sentences. Generative grammars are among the theories that focus primarily on the form of a sentence, rather than its communicative function.

Among the many generative theories of linguistics are:
• Transformational Grammar (TG) (now largely out of date)
• Government and binding theory (GB) (common in the late 1970s and 1980s)
• Minimalism (MP) (the most recent Chomskyan version of generative grammar)

Other theories that find their origin in the generative paradigm are:
• Generative semantics (now largely out of date)
• Relational grammar (RG) (now largely out of date)
• Arc Pair grammar
• Generalized phrase structure grammar (GPSG; now largely out of date)
• Head-driven phrase structure grammar (HPSG)
• Lexical-functional grammar (LFG)

Categorial grammar
Categorial grammar is an approach that attributes the syntactic structure not to rules of grammar, but to the properties of the syntactic categories themselves. For example, rather than asserting that sentences are constructed by a rule that combines a noun phrase (NP) and a verb phrase (VP) (e.g. the phrase structure rule S → NP VP), in categorial grammar, such principles are embedded in the category of the head word itself. So the syntactic category for an intransitive verb is a complex formula representing the fact that the verb acts as a functor which requires an NP as an input and produces a sentence level structure as an output. This complex category is notated as (NP\S) instead of V. NP\S is read as " a category that searches to the left (indicated by \) for a NP (the element on the left) and outputs a sentence (the element on the right)". The category of transitive verb is defined as an element that requires two NPs (its subject and its direct object) to form a sentence. This is notated as (NP/(NP\S)) which means "a category that searches to the right (indicated by /) for an NP (the object), and generates a function (equivalent to the VP) which is (NP\S), which in turn represents a function that searches to the left for an NP and produces a sentence).

Tree-adjoining grammar is a categorial grammar that adds in partial tree structures to the categories.

Dependency grammar
Dependency grammar is a different type of approach in which structure is determined by the relations (such as grammatical relations) between a word (a head) and its dependents, rather than being based in constituent structure. For example, syntactic structure is described in terms of whether a particular noun is the subject or agent of the verb, rather than describing the relations in terms of trees (one version of which is the parse tree) or other structural system.

Some dependency-based theories of syntax:
• Algebraic syntax
• Word grammar
• Operator Grammar

Stochastic/probabilistic grammars/network theories
Theoretical approaches to syntax that are based upon probability theory are known as stochastic grammars. One common implementation of such an approach makes use of a neural network or connectionism. Some theories based within this approach are:
• Optimality theory
• Stochastic context-free grammar

Functionalist grammars
Functionalist theories, although focused upon form, are driven by explanation based upon the function of a sentence (i.e. its communicative function). Some typical functionalist theories include:
• Functional grammar (Dik)
• Prague Linguistic Circle
• Systemic functional grammar
• Cognitive grammar
• Construction grammar (CxG)
• Role and reference grammar (RRG)

See also (the following Wikipedia articles are still to be consulted):
• Phrase • Phrase structure rules • Syntactic category • List of syntactic phenomena • Grammar • X-bar theory • Algebraic syntax

Syntactic terms (the following Wikipedia articles are still to be consulted):
• Adjective (€ Attributive adjective and predicative adjective) • Adjunct • Adverb • Antecedent-contained deletion • Appositive • Article • Aspect • Auxiliary verb • Case • Clause • Closed class word • Comparative • Complement • Compound noun and adjective • Differential Object Marking • Conjugation • Conjunction • Dangling modifier • Declension • Determiner • Dual (form for two) • Expletive • Function word • Gender • Gerund • Infinitive • Measure word (classifier) • Modal particle • Movement paradox • Modifier • Mood • Noun • Number • Object • Open class word • Parasitic gap • Part of speech • Particle • Person • Phrase • Phrasal verb • Plural • Predicate (also verb phrase) • Predicative (adjectival or nominal) • Preposition • Personal pronoun • Pronoun • Restrictiveness • Sandhi • Sentence (linguistics) • Singular • Subject • Superlative • Tense • Uninflected word • Verb • Voice • Wh-movement • Word order

Wikipedia notes
synt-fn01 Fortson IV, Benjamin W. (2004). Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction. Blackwell, 186. ISBN 1-4051-0315-9 (hb); 1-4051-0316-7 (pb). “[The Aṣṭādhyāyī] is a highly precise and thorough description of the structure of Sanskrit somewhat resembling modern generative grammar…[it] remained the most advanced linguistic analysis of any kind until the twentieth century.”  synt-fn01b
Arnauld, Antoine (1683). La logique, 5th ed., Paris: G. Desprez, 137. “Nous avons empruntι…ce que nous avons dit…d'un petit Livre…sous le titre de Grammaire gιnιrale.”  synt-fn02 b
Ted Briscoe, 2 May 2001, Interview with Gerald Gazdar. Retrieved 2008-06-04. synt-fn03b

Wikipedia references
• Brown, Keith; Jim Miller (eds.) (1996). Concise Encyclopedia of Syntactic Theories. New York: Elsevier Science. ISBN 0-08-042711-1. 
• Carnie, Andrew (2006). Syntax: A Generative Introduction. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 1405133848. 
• Freidin, Robert; Howard Lasnik (eds.) (2006). Syntax, Critical Concepts in Linguistics. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-24672-5. 
• Graffi, Giorgio (2001). 200 Years of Syntax. A Critical Survey, Studies in the History of the Language Sciences 98. Amsterdam: Benjamins. ISBN 90-272-4587-8. 

End of Wikipedia article
Go back syntax-note-b

Contents of this page

End of TIL file