Appendix-2: Glossary, Further Definitions and Abbreviations


  • Accusative (See Case)
  • Adjective/Phrase        A category or word which often denotes states or well being (e.g., happy, sad), which can take an adverb suffix {-ly}(e.g., sad>sadly) or prefix {un-} (e.g., unhappy). Adjectives can merge with nouns to form adjective phrases (AdjP) (e.g., red shoes, sad boy, little news).
  • Adverb/Phrase        A category or word which often denotes manner (e.g., talk softly). In English, most Adverbs end with the suffix {-ly}.
  • Affixes        A grammatical morpheme which inflects onto a stem and cannot stand alone as an individual word. A Bound morpheme is a morpheme that must attach to a word stem. A Free morpheme on the other hand may stand alone as a free word (e.g., the word visit in re-visit is a free morpheme (and hence a word). The re- portion of the word is a prefix and thus bound. A prefix attaches at the beginning of the word, an infix to the middle, and a suffix attaches at the end.
  • Anaphoric        An anaphor is an expression (like himself) which cannot have independent reference, but which must take its reference from an antecedent (e.g., He hurt himself)-- where himself refers back to He.
  • Argument        The roles played by specific expressions in the semantbics of the sentence: e.g., in John hit Mary, the verb hit is said to have two arguments--John and Mary (see Thematic Roles).
  • Aspect        The progressive rule [Be+Verb+ing] denotes an activity that is not yet completed (i.e., in progress) (e.g., She is studying French). Sometimes referred to as the imperfective. The imperfective or progressive participle {-ing} is sometimes called the present participle.

    The perfect rule [Have+Verb+Past Participle] denotes an activity that has been completed (marks perfection): (e.g., She has studied French). (See past participle).
  • Auxiliary        A functional word such as (e.g., will/would/can/could/shall should/may/might/must/ought(to)/ (and in some cases) need/dare) which help trigger Auxiliary inversion for Yes- No questions (e.g., can/will/should you come?) and aid in forming Negation (e.g. She can/will/should not come).
  • Aux-Inversion         The movement of an Auxiliary or Modal crossing over and positioning in front of the subject (forming an Aux+S order) e.g., Is he going to the party? > He is going to the party.)
  • Behaviorism         An empirical scientific approach which suggests that all knowledge is build up over time via processes of association and stimulus and response.
  • Case        The forms pronouns take depending on where they sit in the overall sentence structure--e.g., DP-subjects take the Nominative I/We, You, He/She, They while DP-objects take the Accusative Me/Us, You, Him/Her, Them. Genitive case includes my/our/your/his/her/its/their/whose. Prepositional Phrases are thought of as being Functional since they require their complements to have an Accusative [-Nom] case marking (= Oblique case).
  • Chomsky        Noam Chomsky is an MIT Professor of Linguistics and is considered to be the father of modern day linguistics world wide. His work is based on Cartesian Rationalism and so attributes much of language acquisition to innate language specific principles of thought (viz. a Language faculty or Language Acquisition Device (LAD)). His most recent interpretations of this LAD have spawn the last two models of his Theory--Principles & Parameters Framework and the Minimalist Program.
  • Clause        A Clause is defined as an expression that contains a Subject and a Predicate. Finiteness enters into the definition--e.g., where you have two verbs (with Tense/Agreement), you then have two clauses: e.g., John thinks Mary is smoking.
    A Subordinate Clause functions as a dependent clause.
  • Clitic         A clitic denotes an item which resembles a word but doesn’t contain the full phonological structure. For this reason, the word participle is consider bound and must attach to a lexical stem: can’t {n’t} (= can not), I’ve {ve} (= I have).
  • Complement        A term that denotes a specific grammatical function. We say that in a phrase a constituency holds whereas a head word projects along with its comp(lement)--e.g., the VP kissed Mary shows Mary as the DP-object complement of the transitive Verb (Head) Kiss.

          XP               (Head initial)
         /      / \       
    Head   Comp

  • Complementizer Phrase (CP)              A Functional Phrase that sits on top of an IP. The CP serves mainly as host to any movement element that has crossed the subject--e.g., Aux. Inversion, Wh-word movement, etc.
  • Conjunctive                Conjunctive Adverbs typically contrast and form opposition: Adverbs e.g., however, instead, nevertheless, on the contrary, anyway, etc. (John spoke; however, no one listened.) Conjunctive adverbs are usually set off by a semicolon or period. One may set off conjunctive adverbs with commas if they are inside a clause: e.g., (Mary, however, would listen).
  • Constituent                (see Phrase)
  • Copular Verbs                The Auxiliary/linking Verb “Be” are termed copular (to link) since they link the DP-subject to the predicate. For instance, in Mary is a teacher, {is}is a linking verb that links Mary with teacher.
  • Count                (see Noun)
  • Dangling Modifier                A modifier that doesn’t correctly refer back to what it is modifying--e.g., *My nail broke while changing the oil. Very often, altering a sentence from Passive to Active can help clear up such modification errors.
  • Definiteness                 A grammatical feature belonging to DPs (the/this/that, etc.) that mark specificity. Definiteness can influence the agreement spell-out of a verb: e.g., [-Def A number] of students *is/are vs. [+Def The number] of students is/*are.
  • Demonstratives                DP-subject/objects which show or point to the noun: e.g., this/that/these/those. Such DPs inherently mark [+Def].
  • Dependent Clause                A clause is said to be Dependent when it cannot logically stand on its own and must seek further information to establish the full meaning: e.g., while I was driving home. This clause provides adverbial ‘time’ info but doesn’t include a subject which must be housed in an Independent clause.
  • Determiner                 A functional word that introduces a Noun--e.g., A/The/this/that/my/one etc. Determiners house all functional features relevant to the Noun--e.g., Definiteness, Person, Case and Number.
  • Determiner Phrase                 A functional phrase made up of a Determiner and a Noun (=DP) which hosts both subjects and objects-- e.g., The boy, Those girls, Our teacher, my pen, etc...
  • Derivational                (see Morphology)
  • Diagramming                 Tree diagramming illustrates what we believe is the real physiological hierarchical / internal structure of the phrase. Using Chomsky’s innate theory, it is believed that the brain makes available all inherent rules of phrase structure which in turn serve as an internal template for the generation of all possible sentences.
  • Di-transitive                Verb Often called Three-place Predicates. This term refers to the fact that certain verbs require two places in its predicate (with one place filling in as subject)--hence, ‘three place predicate’. For example, John put the book on the table.
  • Elliptical Clause                 This is a process by which an expression is omitted in order to avoid repetition--e.g., I’ll go to the party if you will... ...(go to the party).
  • Empiricism                The school of thought (best described in the tradition of John Locke) which claims that all knowledge is borne of the senses--i.e., is environmentally determined (cf. Skinner Behaviorism pace Chomsky’s Rationalism).
  • Empty Category                A null or covert element void of any phonological material, but nevertheless is present on syntactic grounds. Empty categories are referred to as PRO when functioning in a finite phrase (e.g. John wants PRO to win) or as pro (little pro) when serving as a pronoun-drop (as in Spanish/Italian--(pro Yo) hablo, (pro Io) Parlo...
  • Inflectional                (see Morphology)
  • Feature Crash                A syntactic functional crash occurs when two or more features do not match-up in an Agreement relationship-- e.g., *She work-ø endures a feature crash having to do with the absence of the required 3PSing verbal morpheme {-s}.
  • Feature Theory                A grammatical device used to describe particular linguistic properties. A theory which attempts to break down individual words into subcategory features. For instance, Mass vs. Count [+/-Count] properties consist of finer grained features having to do with a larger proto-type class of Noun.
  • Finite                This grammatical term denotes either a Main Verb or Clause which carries Tense and Agreement features.
  • Form Class Word                 A word/grammatical category which holds no substantive value--e.g., Determiners and Auxiliary/Modals.
  • Genitive                (See Case)
  • Gerund                 The use of an {ing}verb form which changes verbs into noun--e.g., The writing went smoothly.
  • Infinitive Verb                 There are three [-Fin] verb forms which don‘t carry tense: “to”, “ing” and “bare” verb stems. I like to play, I like playing, I can play (respectively).
  • Independent Clause                A clause that may stand on its own--complete with subject and predicate material.
  • Inflectional Phrase                A functional phrase which consists of Inflection--i.e., Tense and Agreement.
  • Intransitive Verb                (see Transitive)
  • Lexical Category                 The Lexical category is made up of substantive Nouns/Verbs/Adjectives/Adverbs. This category is void of any Functional Inflection.
  • Linking Verb                 (see Copular verbs)
  • Functional Category                The Functional category is made up of abstract/grammatical Determiners & Auxiliary/Modals--e.g., Main verbs which take Inflection (=IP) and Nouns that take Inflection (=DP).
  • Mass                (see Noun)
  • Minimalist Program                 A Theory of Grammar (Chomsky 1995) whose underlying principle is that grammar should be described in a minimal way without an over bearing of theoretical rules and procedures. (See Feature Theory).
  • Morphology                 Inflectional morphology is a grammatical process by which Inflections of Tense {-s}, {-ed} as well Case/Agreement is born of a functional node (node = tree branch) and delivered onto a lexical stem--hence changing the form of a word. Only form (lexical) words can take inflection.
    Derivational morphology is a grammatical process by which a class of word may change its meaning or part of speech--e.g., from noun to adjective as child >childish, or from a verb to a noun as in teach >teacher (where the bound morpheme {-er} means a person who performs the act of the verb). Inflectional morphology is more akin to abstract functional grammar (Chomsky’s rule-driven nature) whereas Derivational morphology may be more akin to lexical learning (Skinner’s association nature).
  • Movement                 The syntactic process by which a functional element, phrase or clause detaches from its based generated position and moves to a higher position within the tree.
  • Nominative                (see Case)
  • Noun                A category of a word which typically denotes an entity (person/place/thing). The classic defining aspect of Nouns is that they are countable [+Count]--i.e., they take on Number: N+{s} = Plural. However, there is a class of Nouns called Mass Nouns which don’t take the plural {s}--e.g., furniture/sand etc.
  • Past Participle                The functional verb inflections {ed} and {en} having to do with the Perfect and Passive Grammars--e.g., I have/had studied/walked vs. I have/had spoken/written vs. I have/had been tested/seen.
  • Passive                 (see Voice)
  • Perfect                (see Aspect)
  • Person                 The grammatical feature having to do with DP/pronouns-- first person (I), second (you), and third person (He/She/it).
  • Phonology                The systematic study of the sounds of language.
  • Phrase                 An expression larger than a word--A structural unit. A phrase such as a DP was said to hold its Constituency (hold together) in the face of movement--e.g., Mary likes [DP which films] = Which films does Mary like? vs. *Which does Mary like films?
  • Pidgin                 A form of reduced speech spoken by a second language speaker. Pidgin languages tend to exhibit pure lexical categories at the expense of functional categories.
  • Predicate                The full range of argument material of a sentence that follows the subject. The predicate includes the Finite verb along with any of its arguments.
  • Prepositional Phrase                A functional phrase headed by any of the class of prepositions which also must introduce a DP--e.g., in the park, between you and me, under the stars, etc...
  • Pro                A covert/null case Pronoun.
  • Pro-drop                The grammatical act of deleting a subject pronoun in a sentence.
  • Progressive                (see Aspect)
  • Pronominal                 Mine is considered as a [+Gen] Pronominal (and not a Determiner) since it serves as a pronoun/DP--e.g., this is mine (= my book vs. *Mine book). The [+Gen] Determiner My, on the other hand, is Prenominal since it introduces (comes before) a Noun (my book).
  • Pronoun                A functional word that serves in place of a Noun--e.g., He (for John), She (for Mary), it ( for book) etc. Pronouns are characterized as DPs since they house all appropriate functional feature for the Noun. The Relative pronouns-- (who/that/which)--e.g., He is someone who likes syntax) where who relates back to the subject He
  • Relative pronoun                 (see Pronoun)
  • Sally experiment                 A ‘thought experiment’ which attempts to demonstrate the dual model processing between lexical word learning (cf. Skinner) and Rule-driven grammar (cf. Chomsky). Another nice example of this dual model at work is my very own production of a wrongly placed plural inflection +{s} in the following utterance--e.g.,
    What about taco- tonight-s?” Where the plural +{s} was supposed to inflect on the noun ‘taco’ but because of processing difficulties (I was tired), got delayed and placed onto the end word ‘tonight’ instead. This, like the ‘wugs- test’ is accounted for by a dual processing model and not piece-meal lexical/inflectional learning in the way of rote- memorized chunks (pace Skinner).
  • Small Clause                A clause that neither involves (i) Nominative case nor a Finite verb--e.g., I saw [him swimming in the lake.] Children at their lexical/stage often speak in small clauses.
  • Structure Class                A functional word such a Determiner or an Auxiliary that is mainly involved with grammatical structure. Structure class words cannot take inflection (unlike Form class words).
  • Subject                 The topic of a given proposition or the entity performing the action of the verb--e.g., in John kissed Mary, (John) is the subject of the sentence.
  • SVO                The English word order is SVO--e.g., John kissed Mary where John =subject, kissed = verb, and Mary = object. This word order is said to be generated by the Head Initial parameter in English--where heads must come first before their complements. (see Complement).
  • Syntax                The study of how words are stung together to form larger units of phrases, clauses and sentences.
  • Tense                A grammatical marker of time. Finite verbs show a binary distinction between present and past [+/-Past]. The rule in grammar is that the first verb gets the time (tense)--meaning that any verb that follows the Main Verb must project as a Non-finite verb. Vowel Change is an irregular formation of Tense--e.g., sing>sang>sung, speak>spoke, run>ran.
  • Thematic Roles               
    • Theme (Patient) = entity undergoing effects of action:
      (Mary fell over) (John hit Mary)
    • Agent = instigator of some action:
      (John killed Mary) (John hit Mary)
    • Experiencer = entity experiencing a psychological state:
      (Mary felt sad)
    • Recipent = entity receiving some entity:
      (Mary gave John a gift)
    • Goal = entity towards which something moves:
      (Mary went home)


  • Topicalization                 When an element is moved into a front position for focus.
  • Trace                As a result of some movement, a trace [t] recovers the place from which an element was moved.
  • Transitive Verb                A verb which requires in its complement position some object material. A verb is said to be transitive if it checks objective case [-Nom]. Conversely, verbs are Intransitive (not transitive) if they don’t require an Object for its complement.
  • Verb                A Lexical category/word which has the morphological properties that it can carry a range of Tense/participle inflections--{s}, {ed}, {ing}, {en}.
  • Verb Phrase                 A phrase that has as its head a verb--e.g., Mary can/should [VP speak French].
  • Verb Stem                 The lexical root of a verb void of any inflection--e.g., talk, walk, write, etc. As found listed in a dictionary.
  • Voice       
    • Active: when the subject of the action is topicalized--e.g., (John kissed Mary)
    • Passive: when the object of the action is topicalized--e.g.,
      (Mary was kissed by John)
  • Vowel Change                (see Tense)
  • Wh-movement                A syntactic operation by which a wh-element or wh-phrase moves from the (back) object position of a sentence to the (front) subject position--e.g., John bought his car where? => Where did John buy his car?
  • Wh-word                 What/where/who/when/why/which/how--all of which generate a wh-question--e.g., What are you doing?
  • Yes-No Question                 A question operation by which an Auxiliary/modal inverts which in turn triggers a yes/no response to the question-- e.g., Are you going? Have you seen Mary? (=Yes/No!).
  • Zero Allomorph                {ø} A Null or empty category that provides no phonological material though may have syntactic relevance--a place holder to preserve the features of a functional phrase.