Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

(8) Parts of Speech.

(Criteria for their Classification; Similarities and Differences between English and Czech; Grammatical Categories; Subcategorisation of Numerals, Prepositions, Conjunctions, and Interjections).

(8.1) Criteria for Establishing the Parts of Speech

- reason for establishing categories: formal (knowing the meaning of the word, we need to learn how to handle it in a sentence)

- criteria for establishing parts of speech

(a) notional/semantic

(b) formal/grammatical: phonetic, morphological (derivational x inflectional morphology), syntactic (dependent elements x function)

- E: the primary criterion is syntax

- CZ: the primary criterion is morphology

(8.1.1) Phonetic Criteria

- E: esp. to distinguish btw N x V

(a) the alternation of phonemes

- N: object ['obd3ikt] x V: to object [∂b'd3ekt] (note: accompanied by alternation of accent)

- N: advice [∂d'vais] x V: to advise [∂d'vaiz] (note: accompanied by alternation in spelling)

- CZ: snaha x snažit se; kůl x kolík

(b) the alternation of accent

- CZ: absent

- N: 'import x V: to im'port

- N: record ['reko:d] x V: to record [ri'ko:d]

(8.1.2) Morphological Criteria

- morphological features

(a) primary: inherent = as a part of the lexical entry (N: gender)

(b) primary: optional = depending on the choice of the speaker (N: number)

(c) secondary: configurational = agreement in a sentence (N: case)

- derivational suffixes

- conversion 

(8.1.3) Syntactic Criteria

- E: the grammatical function of word-order

(a) the criterion of co-occurence

- DET followed by N; AUX accompanied by V; etc.

(b) the criterion of distribution

- ambiguousness: Spring in the air!Why should I?; ship sails today [loď odplouvá dnes x pošlete plachty dnes]; flying planes can be dangerous [adjectival participle: letící letadla mohou být nebezpečná x nominal gerund: řízení letadel může být nebezpečné]

(8.1.4) Word Categories

- the boundaries btw categories indistinct = fuzzy categories

- grammatical categories have "best cases" members x member systematically departing from the "best case" = categorial prototypicality (N prototypically countable/concrete x uncountable/abstract N)

- the optimal grammatical description of morphosyntactic processes incl. reference to the degree of categorial deviation from the "best case"

(a) major/open class categories: N, ADJ, ADV, V, PRE

- unlimited number, productive (new words can be added), semantically most universal

(b) minor/close class categories: PROnouns, NUMerals, CONjunctions, PARticles, INTerjections + DETerminers, MODals (the latter two absent in CZ)

- limited number, an established register

(8.2) Grammatical Categories

(8.2.1) Nouns

( Semantic Properties

(a) common nouns: countable x non-countable

(b) proper nouns

- common nouns = do not denote people or things as specific items but as general concepts which share the same distinctive features

- proper nouns = denote specific people or things which have no features in common except for their name

( Morphological Properties/Grammatical Categories

- E: number, gender, case + countability, definiteness

- CZ: number, gender, case, declination

- countable nouns: all the grammatical categories

- non-countable nouns: restricted in the category of number, countability and definiteness


- a semantically-grammatical category

- (a) singular = indicates one object or an indivisible whole (snow)

- (b) plural = indicated more than one object

- dual = non-productive in both CZ and E

- E: only a lexical manifestation of dual (dual: both, either, neither, each other x plural: all, any, none, one another)

- CZ: also some remains of grammatical dual (oči, uši, ruce)

- only the plural form => collective meaning (belongings) or composite objects (scissors)

- singularia tantum

- pluralia tantum


- a semantically-grammatical category

- (a) countable nouns = individual items; the names of countable separate objects, people, etc.

- countable N can be used with an article/in plural/with numerals

- (b) uncountable nouns, or, mass nouns = continuum, measurable x not countable; the names of things which we do not see as separate

- countable nouns: used with numerals and quantifiers without restriction (several proposals, many errors, a hundred years, etc.)

- uncountable nouns: not used with numerals, used with a restricted number of quantifiers (much trouble, little money, etc.)

- nouns used with higher numerals only: about five hundred cattle, twenty police, many folk, etc.

- countable nouns: the ending -(e)s   x    uncountable nouns: null ending

  many/several/(a) few                     x    much/little

  all/every/each                               x    all

  a/the                                           x    the

  a large number of                          x    a great deal of

- E: countability has a greater degree of grammaticalisation, manifested also in the use of null article with uncountable nouns (salt is soluble in water)/indefinite article with countable nouns (a cat is a domestic animal)

- CZ: countability semantically manifested in the absence of uncountable nouns used with numerals, grammatically manifested only in the absence of plural in uncountable nouns


- a semantically-grammatical category

- manifested in articles and in some pronouns: demonstrative, possessive, indefinite

- distribution: precedes its head noun, precedes the pre-modifier if any is present

- function: determiner => not a constitutional sentence member

(a) the definite article the

- the same form for SG/PL

- pronounced as [ð∂] before consonants, as [ði] before vowels

(b) the indefinite article a

- used only for SG (SG a > PL null article/some)

- spelled a/pronounced [∂] before consonants, spelled an/pronounced [∂n] before vowels

(c) the null article


- a semantically-grammatical category, more semantic than grammatical

- E: semantic criteria: the grammatical gender = the biological sex

- reflects the extralinguistic reality in people and some animals (= + animate): male = masculine, female = feminine, child = neuter

- manifested in pronouns: personal, possessive, reflexive, emphatic, relative, interrogative

- animate: some-/any-/nobody, some-/any-/no one x inanimate: some-/any-/nothing

- CZ: grammatical criteria with no direct relation to the extralinguistic reality

- manifested in derivational morphology, declination type and agreement with the related sentence members

(a) masculine: male human beings and animals

(b) feminine: female human beings and animals

(c) neuter: inanimate things and animals whose sex we do not know


- E: largely a syntactic category, manifested in prepositions and word-order

(a) subject case

(b) object case: object of a verb x of a preposition

(c) possessive case

- case assignors are V and PREP

- CZ: a grammatical category, manifested in flexion

- nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, vocative, ablative, instrumental

- case assignors are all categories

- structural/configurational case = depends on the sentence structure (NOM, ACC, GEN?)

- oblique/idiosyncratic case = depends on the V or PREP, related to the meaning (incl. all the others)

(8.2.2) Adjectives

- E: invariable for number, gender, person and case

- CZ: number, gender, case, declination

- function of ADJ: attributive APs (pre-/post-modification), predicative APs, comparatives/grading

- ADJ modifies N x ADV modifies V

(a) gradable adjectives: can be modified, can be used in comparative/superlative

(b) non-gradable adjectives

- degrees of comparison: positive, or, absolute; comparative; superlative

(8.3.3) Verbs

(a) lexical verbs: an open system

(b) auxiliary verbs: a closed system with a fixed number of members

- primary auxiliaries (do, have, be)

- central modal auxiliaries (can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would, must)

- marginal modal auxiliaries (used to, need, dare, ought to, etc.)

- modal idioms (had better, would rather, be to, have got to, etc.)

- semi-auxiliaries (have to, be about to, be going to, etc.)

- E: tense, aspect, mood, voice

- CZ: tense, aspect, mood, voice + person, number, gender, conjugation


- time = a universal non-linguistic concept divided into past/present/future

- tense = the correspondence btw the form of the verb and our concept of time


- aspect = the manner of experiencing the verbal action

- completed x in progress


- mood = conditions as certainty, obligation, necessity, possibility


- active x passive

(8.3) Subcategorisations

(8.3.1) Pronouns

(1) central

    (a) personal: me, we, etc.

    (b) reflexive: myself, ourselves, etc.

    (c) possessive

        (a’) determinative (pre-nominal): your, its, etc.

        (b’) independent (post-nominal): mine, hers, its?, etc.

(2) reciprocal: each other, one another

(3) relative: the wh- series, that

(4) interrogative: the wh- series

(5) demonstrative: this/that, these/those

(6) indefinite

    (a) positive

        (a’) universal: all/both, each/every

        (b’) assertive: some-, one, half, several, enough, other, another

        (c’) non-assertive: any-, either

    (b) negative: no-, neither

- pronouns = free within the minimal domain x can be bound by clause-external context

- anaphors = bounds within the minimal domain by subject, need a co-referential antecedent (reflexives, reciprocals)

(8.3.2) Determiners

(1) central determiners

- a, an, the, 0

- this/that, these/those; every, each, no

(1) complementary with

- possessives

- the wh- series

- some, any, no

- every, each, either, neither

(2) pre-determiners

- all, whole, both, half

- double, twice, three-times, one-third

- such, what

(3) post-determiners

- cardinal numerals

- ordinal numerals

- closed-class quantifiers (a few, a lot, a little, etc.)

(8.3.3) Numerals

(1) cardinal numerals

- 13 – 19: the suffix –teen

- 20 – 90: the suffix –ty

- co-occurrence: the indefinite article a may precede the individual forms hundred/thousand/million etc. x otherwise one precedes

- and: before the word denoting tens or units in a number composed of 3+ figures (320,410: three hundred and twenty thousand, four hundred and ten)

- hundred, thousand, million, dozen: in SG with a definite number (six hundred men)

- decimals: indicated by a point (10.29: ten point two nine) x thousands+: indicated by a - comma (1,029: one thousand and twenty nine)

(2) ordinal numerals

- cardinal numerals + the suffix –th/–eth with a change of  into

- exceptions: first, second, third

- co-occurrence: the definite article precedes

(8.3.4) Prepositions

- PREP = express a relationship

- the meaning of PREP determined by the meaning of the word before which it stands and by the meaning of the word on which the PP depends

(1) PREP of position and movement => express local relations

(a) place

- a point (we went to the river)

- a line (Greenwich is down the river)

- a surface (the paper floated on the river)

- an area or volume which can be enclosed (we swam in the river)

(b) direction

- towards, along, through, across, etc. (we ran out of the building)

(2) PREP of time => express temporal relations

(a) a point or a period of time: when? (he became ill during the night)

(b) a starting/finishing point of time: since when? what time? (we slept until noon)

(3) PREP of abstract relations

(a) manner (we were received with the utmost courtesy)

(b) means/instrument (someone broke the window with a stone)

(c) accompaniment (he is glad she is coming with us)

(d) purpose/cause (he would do anything for money)

(8.3.5) Conjunctions

- conjunctions = have no independent meaning, serve to connect words/phrases/clauses

(1) co-ordinating, or, co-ordinative conjunctions

(a) copulative conjunctions = denote a simple addition a statement (and, both...and, not only...but, as well as, neither...nor, etc.)

(b) disjunctive conjunctions = denote separation (or, else, either...or, etc.)

(c) adversative conjunctions = denote contrast (but, still, yet, etc.)

(d) causative-consecutive conjunctions = denote a reason (so, therefore, accordingly, etc.)

(2) subordinating, or, subordinative conjunctions: typically introduce adverbial clauses

(a) clauses of time: when? (when, after, since, etc.)

(b) clauses of place: where? (where, wherever, anywhere, everywhere)

(c) clauses of manner: how? (as)

(d) clauses of condition and concession (positive conditional: if x negative conditional: unless; concession: though, although, even if, etc.)

(e) clauses of reason and cause: why? (because, as, since)

(f) clauses of purpose: what for? (so that, in order that, in case)

(g) clauses of result (so...that, such a...that)

(h) clauses of comparison (,, more...than, the more...the better, etc.)

(8.3.6) Interjections

- semantic division

(1) emotional interjections = express the feelings (ah, oh, alas)

(2) imperative interjections = express an appeal to the hearer (here, hush, now)

- grammatical division

(1) primary interjections = not derived from other parts of speech (fie, eh, hey-ho)

(2) secondary interjections = converted from other parts of speech (well, there, why)

- also incl. onomatopoeic sounds (mew, cock-a-doodle-doo, boo)


Dušková, Libuše, et al. Mluvnice současné angličtiny na pozadí češtiny. Praha: Academia, 2003.

Svoboda, Aleš, and Mária Opělová Károlyová. A Brief Survey of the English Morphology. Ostrava: Ostravská univerzita, 1993.

Other Sources

Veselovská, Ludmila. Přednášky a semináře: Morfologie 2. ZS 2003/04.


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