Like sentences, parts of the sentence are produces in speech. In this sense, we have to agree with Gardiner’s claim that the term “parts of speech” should be reserved for what is traditionally called “parts of speech”, since it is them that appear in speech. Nouns, adjectives, verb are not “parts of speech” but rather “parts of language” as they do not belong to speech but to language as such, as they represent certain word classes.
The theory of parts of sentence is inseparable from the sentence theory. Division within the sentence is, in fact, division of thought, expressed in the sentence. Every part of the sentence plays a specific part in order to express the idea, i. e. it refers in specific way to predication. It is the function of this part of the sentence and its value in the sentence that determines its place among other sentence constituents.
According to the theory proposed by A. I. Smirnitskiy, the function of a part of the sentence is determined by the content of relations formed between words in the sentence. The content is conditioned, for the most part, by relations between meanings of words and meanings of syntactic means. It may be “thingness”, process, quality, circumstance. Thus, the object is characterized by the content “thingness”, the attribute - “quality”, the adverbial modifier - “circumstance”.
Consequently, roughly speaking, the content expressed by parts of the sentence corresponds to lexical categorical meanings of word classes - parts of speech: the noun, the verb, the adjective, and the adverb. Therefore, we may claim a certain correlation between sentence parts and parts of the sentence is not a word as such but is formed by interaction of words with other language units, parts of speech and parts of the sentence are not similar.
Thus the relation between parts of speech and parts of the sentence results from the distinction between speech and language. Parts of speech may not be differentiated without reference to their functions and the relations formed by a word with other words.
Parts of the sentence produced in speech, in their turn, are inseparable from parts of speech. They are not, however, identical with them, since they are formed in speech as a result of interaction with other language units.
What elements make up the system of sentence members? Their nomenclature is well-established and hardly needs any substantiation. It is common in grammatical theory to distinguish between main (also known as principal) and secondary sentence parts. Besides these two types, there is one more – elements which are said to stand outside the sentence structure. There are two generally recognized main parts of the sentence – the subject and the predicate. As to the secondary parts, their number varies slightly. Among them we usually find the object (with its subdivisions), the attribute, and the adverbial modifier. Other secondary parts of the sentence are also sometimes mentioned – the apposition (its relation to the attribute is variously interpreted), the objective predicative, and occasionally some other parts, too.
It should be mentioned that, to a certain extent, this system correlates with the system of parts of speech, but it is only to a certain extent, since even the seemingly monofunctional adverb be used attributively, Example: the then president, essentially a bachelor. The two systems cannot be absolutely parallel, since structural and semantic natures of some morphological classes inherently presuppose polyfunctioning in syntax. Thus, the noun denoting a thing may occur as subject, object, attribute and predicative.
The traditional division into principal and secondary parts of the sentence is quite relative, since so-called secondary parts, as well as principal ones, may form a structural minimum of the sentence (cf., e.g. the subject and the object). The division, however, is based on the important property of sentence parts, namely capability of a part to form the predicate core of the sentence.
If one grounds the classification on the role played by parts of the sentence in the structural-semantic minimum of the sentence, then majority of objects and some adverbial modifiers (it depends on the verb-predicate) are just as important and necessary as the subject and the predicate. Omission of objects and adverbial modifiers in the sentences below makes them grammatically and semantically unmarked. Example: She closed the book. She was there.
The distribution of sentence parts in the system will be different if they are considered in terms of their importance for functional sentence perspective. It is secondary sentence parts that appear communicatively essential (i. e. rhematic), whereas the subject and (to a lesser extent) the predicate make up the starting (i.e. thematic) point of the sentence.
Thus, elements of the system seem to be organized differently, if considered from different point of view. As a result, to describe parts of the sentence as a system requires taking into account functions of the sentence parts and relations established between them. If the aspects mentioned above are taken into consideration, there may be distinguished three main groups of parts of the sentence.
The first group is formed by the subject and the predicate. The status of the subject and the predicate is distinct from the rest of the sentence members. It is the subject and the predicate that are interconnected and independent from any other sentence part, whereas the rest of the sentence elements may be traced through various links to the subject and the predicate. This hierarchy of dependences is quite obvious in the sentence. Example: The little girl played lonely in the mornings in the tiny yard (see table below):
in the mornings
in the yard
The subject and the predicate (if the lexical positions of the sentence parts are properly filled) may suffice to form a sentence. Example: Sam nodded.
The second group consists of objects and adverbial modifiers. The objects and the adverbial modifiers are always dependent sentence parts. They may be (and in majority of cases are) verb-oriented, i.e. syntactically complete. Cf. the object and the adverbial modifier may not be dropped in the sentence She treated her husband like a child.
The third group is formed by the attribute. The attributes, being always dependent like the object and the adverbial modifier, differ from these secondary sentence parts in that they depend on the noun. Their non-verbal syntactic orientation proves that they belong to a different division within the sentence. Unlike the object and the adverbial modifier, the attribute is non part of the structural pattern of the sentence.
The subject and the predicate in the sentence express the category of predicativity; it is the essential structural and semantic property of the sentence. Strictly speaking, predicativity is formally expressed by the verb-predicate. Since the forms appear and exist on the basis of unity and on the basis of unity and simultaneously opposition of the subject and the predicate, some linguists claim that the subject indirectly expresses predicativity.
The subject and the predicate are the only parts of the sentence that always constitute the structural and semantic minimum of the sentence. In English, only two-member sentences are possible.
To differentiate between secondary parts, it is necessary to consider the way they are related to predication. As a result, one may establish a certain hierarchy. For example, secondary parts of the sentence may either join predication as independent units, developing the sentence as a whole, or they are introduced together with another part of the sentence as its component. The first type of secondary parts of the sentence is called independent secondary parts the sentence. There are object and the adverbial modifier. The second type of secondary parts of the sentence is referred to as dependent (the attribute).
It should be noted that while secondary parts of the sentence are obviously opposed to the principal parts of the sentence due to the absence of predication, it is difficult in some cases to draw a demarcation line between various types of non-predicative relation. The transition here may be gradual, as both the relations may grow more or less close. The reason for the variation lies in that semantically similar relations may be expressed in relation. Some of the combination occur regularly and are typical. It gives grounds to claim certain categories within a group of secondary parts of the sentence. Thus, the attribute presupposes qualitative relations (“quality – its bearer”), the object delivers the “thing - process” relation, the adverbial modifier is associated with adverbial relations. However, combinations of these diverse meanings are quite common. It is then that one may observe intermediate, less typical cases. It does not mean that the classification should be turned down altogether. It only signals that the differentiation between secondary parts of the sentence is to a certain extent relative and reflects combinations that occur in speech more frequently.
The usual classification of the secondary parts of the sentence into objects, attributes, and adverbial modifiers is familiar to everyone. Yet it has many weak points.
The attribute is a dependent member of a nounal word combination, denoting an attributive quality of a referent expressed by a noun. It appears difficult to explicate the difference between the attribute and the predicate, since they both denote a quality of a referent. The predicate, unlike the attribute, denotes a predicative quality. While the predicative quality may refer only to the subject, the attribute modifies nouns performing any syntactic function.
Taking into account the position of the head noun, attributes are classified into pre-positional and post-positional. It should be noted in this connection that English adjectives do not possess any differentiating means to express their syntactic dependence. It does not hold, however, for nouns used attributively: they occur without prepositions before the modified word and with prepositions after the modified word.
In pre-position, there may be found modifiers of various structure – from a word up to a predicative unit presented as a word: “Excuse me,” says this woman with one of those posh, would-you-mind-not-breathing-the-same-air-as-me voices. (Calman)
Like other parts of the sentence, the attribute may be syntactically extended. Elements of an extended structure have a common principal word but are characterized by mutual semantic and syntactic independence. Homogeneous sentence parts may be of different morphological classes. Thus, among homogeneous attributes one may find participles and adjectives, nouns with prepositions and adjectives, etc. Example: her face, heart-shaped and kind, was easy to remember; a young officer, assertive and with the air of self-importance.
One should, perhaps, dwell on the order of attributes and study on what principle it is based. The principle of arranging attributes in such a way lies in that if they are semantically similar, their linear arrangement may depend on a number of factors – from euphonic to structural. As a rule, qualitative attributes tend to be placed to the left, relative ones – to the right. This principle (called sometimes the principle of positional polarization of qualitative and relative attributes) is valid regardless of morphological properties of attributes: a wonderful summer day, received British pronunciation, a new steel plant. One may trace a more general rule in the principle of positional polarization: a subjective or evaluative characteristic is placed before a characteristic of more objective nature.
The important role of meaning is particularly obvious when a lexeme takes different positions on its meaning. Cf. the position occupied by the adjective old referring to age and the position of the same adjective when it means “ordinary, usual, well-known”. Example: the heavy old table vs the old angry gleam.
Structural properties are morphological characteristics of adjectives and dependent elements that may be modify an attribute. That latter property may influence pre- or post- positional use of an attribute. For example, an extended attribute with dependent words usually occupies the place after the modified element. Example: He wandered along a line of people queuing outside a cinema for the last show… (Barstow)
The loose attribute may be expressed by the same kind of words and phrases as the usual attributes. Their peculiarity lies in that that they are separated from their head word by a pause, an intonation or by a pronunciation mark (usually a comma) in writing. In actual speech such loose attributes often acquire additional shades of meaning, for example, causal or concessive, which are not expressed by any specific means, lexical or grammatical, and depend entirely on the meanings of the words in the sentence. Example: His room, with its smell of cough drops and stale clothing,the bed-spread drawn clumsily over the pillow, seemed emptier than was natural. (Tylor).
Loose attributes have a somewhat larger sphere of application than ordinary ones: whereas a personal pronoun can hardly ever be a head word for an ordinary attribute, it can be one for a loose attribute. For instance, in the sentence Too numb with all the shock of the accident, he could not say a word, the word combination too numb…is a loose attribute acquires a distinctly causal shade of meaning, and this is due to the lexical meaning of the words numb and to say.