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Syntactic Functions of Adjectives

§ 7.Adjectives may serve in the sentence as:
1) an attribute,

e.g.She had pleasant blueeyes and very long fairhair which she
wore in neatplaits round her head.

Adjectives used attributively usually precede the noun imme-
diately. Generally there is no pause between the adjective and the
noun. Such attributes are called close attributes(see the examples

However, if an adjective does not so much give a permanent
characteristic to its noun but rather refers to the temporary
state, circumstance or condition under which what is said takes
place, it becomes a loose attributeand may be placed in different
positions in the sentence.

e.g. Nervous, the man opened the letter.
The man, nervous, opened the letter.
The man opened the letter, nervous.

The meaning of the above sentence can be interpreted as 'The
man who was nervous, opened the letter*. Loose attributes tend to
approach to the predicative function.

Here are more examples illustrating loose attributes:

e.g. Clever and tactful,George listened to my story with deep

My father, happy and tired,kissed me good-night.
2) apredicative,

e.g. Her smile was almost professional.
The sky was becoming violet.
He was awareof what was going on in the office.

Adjectives used predicatively tend to refer to a temporary
condition rather than to a permanent characteristic.

e.g. She is ill.

The child is asleep.

Note. Note the following sentence pattern which is commonly used to express
all sorts of measurements.

e.g. The water was five feet deep.

The train was twenty minutes late.
My watch is three minutes slow.
He is thirty years old.

3) part of a compound verbal predicate,

e.g. He stood silent, with his back turned to the window.
She lay motionless, as if she were asleep.

He rolled onto his back and stared up into the tree where lit-
tle black cherries hung thick.

4) an objective predicative,

e.g. I thought him very intelligent.

She wore her hair short.

In this function adjectives sometimes express the result of the
process denoted by the verb,
e.g. The cat licked the saucer dry.

The powder washes the linen white.

He pushed the window open.

She made him happy.

The news turned his hair white.

5) a subjective predicative,

e.g. Her hair was dyed blonde.
The door was closed tight.
The vegetables were served raw, the way he liked.

6) an adverbial modifier,

e.g. When ripe, the apples are sweet.

Whether right or wrong, the man ought to be treated fairly-
If possible, the child should be given the medicine three
times a day.

As is seen from the above examples, adjectives used ad-
verbially are all introduced by conjunctions. The phrases which
the adjectives are parts of can be treated as elliptical adverbial


e.g. When (it is) necessary, he can be taken to the doctor.

§ 8. Adjectives in the predicative function often require an ob-
ject to complete their meaning. Objects to predicative adjectives
can be expressed by nouns with prepositions (a), by infinitives (b),
by ing-forms with or without a preposition (c) or by object clauses

e.g. a) I was not aware of his presence.

We were all very interested in the result of the experiment.

b) He was quick to understand what I meant.
They were happy to hear the news.

c) She is busy packing-
Basil was little used to being heard with respect and was

resentful at being reproached with his own words.

d) I was anxious that they should not miss the train.
He was glad that I was going on a holiday.

2) Adjectives are often used to build up exclamatory sentences
in which an adjective preceded by how is placed at the head of the

e.g. How charming your daughter is!
How warm it is today!

Place of Adjectives in Attributive Phrases

§ 9. Adjectives used as close attributes precede the noun they

e.g. Nick could beat his father so badly at tennis that only paren-
tal affection reconciled the older player to the poor show
he put up.

Sometimes adjectives are found in post-position to the word
they modify. It occurs in the following cases:

1) if an adjective modifies an indefinite pronoun,

e.g. Anyone intelligentcan do it.

I'll tell you something wonderful.

2) in some set phrases, e.g. the president elect (=soon to take
office), the examination board proper (=as strictly defined), court
martial, attorney general, heir apparent,
and the like.

3) if an attribute is expressed by the adjectives absent, present,
and involved,

e.g. The men present were all his friends.

The people involvedwere asked to come at ten o'clock.

Post-position is possible if an attribute has a modifier following it.

e.g. Peter and Tom were the boys easiest to teach.
Or: Peter and Tom were the easiestboys to teach.

They have a garden larger than yours.
Or: They have a largergarden than yours.

If there are several attributes modifying a noun their order
within the attributive group is best shown in the following table:


epithet size shape age colour origin substance attribute forming a close sense-unit with a noun noun

Nick, surprised,went over to the window to re-read the letter.
Mother stood up from the table, curiousand anxious.

§ 10.Note the place of the indefinite article when an adjective
happens to be modified by too, so, as and however.

e.g. She is too timida girl to meet him.

Dr Grogan was, in fact, aswise an old man as my grandfather.
For this see also "Articles", § 65.


e.g. a brilliant (1) young (4) man
a small
(2) round (3) table
a dirty
(1) old (4) brown (5) coat
a charming
(1) French (6) writing (8) desk
a large
(2) green (5) Chinese (6) carpet
a famous
(1) German (6) medical (8) school
a large
(2) iron (7) box
a big
(2) square (3) old (4) chest
a tall
(2) young (4) London (6) policeman

An attributive group in which all the spaces were filled would
be rare and cumbersome. Adjectives used as loose attributes are
mobile in the sentence (for this see also § 7).
e.g. Unhappy,the girl returned to work.


§ 1. Pronouns include a miscellaneous group of words which
function in the sentence as noun pronouns or as adjective pronouns.

It is difficult to define the meaning of pronouns. Unlike nouns
and adjectives, they do not name objects or qualities, but only
point to them. In other words, they are devoid of concrete lexical
meaning. They have a generalized meaning instead, which be-
comes clear only in the context or situation.

Various individual pronouns may have different grammatical
categories. Some of them have the category of number (e.g, this
these, that — those), others have the category of case (e.g. I — me,
somebody — somebody's),
still others are invariable (e.g. each, such,
all, what
and some others).

It should be pointed out that although pronouns function as
nouns or adjectives in the sentence, they do not cover all the
functions of the two parts of speech, but can only have some of
them. Pronouns can be divided into the following classes:

1) personal pronouns, 6) indefinite pronouns,

2) possessive pronouns, 7) reciprocal pronouns,

3) reflexive pronouns, 8) interrogative pronouns,

4) emphatic pronouns, 9) conjunctive pronouns.

5) demonstrative pronouns,

Personal Pronouns

§ 2. We find the following personal pronouns in English:


  Singular Plural
1 st person I we
2nd person you  
3d person he she it they

I and we are said to be the pronouns of the 1st person, i.e. a
person (or persons) who speaks (speak). You is said to be the pro-
noun of the 2nd person, i.e. a person (persons) spoken to. He,
she, it
and they are said to be the pronouns of the 3d person, i.e.
a person (persons) or a thing (things) spoken about.

We distinguish singular and plural personal pronouns. Singu-
lar personal pronouns refer to one person or thing and plural per-
sonal pronouns refer to more than one person or thing. The pro-
nouns I, we, you, he and she are mainly used for persons. I, we
and you are indifferent to gender, while he is masculine and she is
feminine. The pronoun it is used for animals, concrete things and
abstract notions, i.e. it refers to neuter nouns. The pronoun they is
used for persons, animals and things and is indifferent to gender.

§ 3. In addition to the above structural meanings of the per-
sonal pronouns, they have a few other special applications.

It is a tradition to use we instead of I in newspaper articles,
scientific prose, etc. This so-called editorial we is believed to
sound less assertive and, hence, more modest than I.

, e.g. We are convinced that the Government has made a grave
mistake in imposing tills tax.

She is sometimes used for inanimate objects, especially ships,
; motor cars, aircraft, etc.

e.g. Come along and have a look at my new car. She is a beauty.
She is also used for countries, and even cities, especially in
rather formal and rhetoric speech.

e.g. France has made it plain that she will regret the proposal.

You may be used with reference to nobody in particular, to
any person who might find himself in a similar position.

e.g. You don't know him. He is dishonest. You feel that he is ly-
ing to you every moment of the day.

"Have you been aboard Mrs Wilcox's yacht? What do people
do aboard yachts?" "I don't know. You drink, I suppose,"
Gregory said, shrugging his shoulders.

In my youth during Christmas holidays I loved to visit my
classmates who all lived in small provincial towns. Once

you got into them, each anonymous house held a promise
of fun. You didn't know who lived in them, but maybe in
one of them, as you went from the station to the house of
the people you were visiting, there would be a pretty girl
getting ready for a dance.

They may be used to mean 'people in general', especially in
the phrase they say.

e,g. They say he's going to resign.

No wonder they say the present generation hasn't got a scrap

of enterprise.
The personal pronouns are used as nouns in the sentence.

§ 4. The personal pronouns change for case. There are two cases
for personal pronouns — the nominative case and the objective case.


The Nominative Case The Objective Case
I you he she it we you they me you him her it us you them

The forms of the nominative case function in the sentence as

e.g. I expect they will laugh at me.

Why, don't you know what he's up to?

The forms of the objective case function in the sentence as objects.

e.g. I met himin the street, (direct object)

He gave me some advice, (indirect object)

Please, don't tell anyone about us. (prepositional object)

When personal pronouns are used as predicatives or after than-'
and but, the nominative case is considered to be very formal; the
use of the objective case is preferred in spoken English.

e.g. "Who is it?" "It's me (I)."

"Do you need anything?" "A secretary that I'lldictate my

piece to." "I'll be her."
You're better off than them (they).
She is as tall as him(he).
No one can do it but him(he).

But only a nominative case personal pronoun can be used in
the following sentence pattern where the pronoun is followed by a

e.g. It was I who did it.

The Use of it

§ 5. As has been said, the pronoun it is generally used for con-
crete things, abstract notions and animals.

e.g. I tried the door. It was locked.

He promised his help if ever I needed it.

He got down the horse and tied it to the rail.

Yet the pronoun it may be used to identify an unknown person.
Then, once it has been done, he or she must be used.

e.g. There was a knock at the door. I thought it was the postman.

He usually came at that time.

When the waiter came up to his table he did not at once real-
ize it was Paul. He was as handsome as ever.

It may also refer to an idea expressed in a preceding word-
group (a), clause (b), sentence (c) or even context (d).

e.g. a) He tried to break the lock. It was not easy either.

There was some mutual hesitation about shaking hands,
with both deciding against it.

b) He knew that his father was dying but he did not want to

speak with anyone about it.

c) The music had stopped. He didn't notice it.

d) He studied her, then shook his head. He waited a moment

and then decided not to say what he might have been go-
ing to say. He swallowed half his whiskey before going
on, and when he did, he returned to the conventional

questions. She had watched him do it all without any in-

It is very often used as a formal subject in impersonal state-
ments about weather conditions, time, distance and all kinds of

e.g. It is raining heavily.

It was very cold in the room.
It is half past three now.

It is six miles to the nearest hospital from here.
It is three feet deep here.

It as the formal subject is also found in sentences in which the
predicate is modified by an infinitive phrase (a), or an ing-iorm
phrase (b), or a clause (c). We usually find nominal predicates in
this kind of sentences:

e.g. a) It is stupid to fall asleep like that.
It is a pleasure to see you again.

b) It won't be easy finding our way home.

It's no use hoping he'll ever change his mind.

c) It was clear that he was going to give in.

It was a surprise that he had come back so soon.
The formal it may be used not only as the subject of the sen-
tence but also as an object followed by an adjective or a noun
which is modified by an infinitive phrase, an ing-iorm phrase or a

e.g. I found it difficult to explain to him what had happened.
He thought it no use going over the subject again.
He thought it odd that they had left him no message.
The pronoun it is also used in the so-called emphatic con-
struction, i.e. a special sentence pattern that serves to emphasize
some word or phrase in the sentence,
e.g. It was my question that made him angry.

It was on the terrace that he wanted them to lay the table.

Finally, the pronoun it is rather often used in various idi-
omatic expressions where it seems to have very little lexical
meaning of its own, if any at all. Most of these expressions are
colloquial or even slangy.

e.g. Hang it all, we can't wait all day for him.
Hop it, old thing, you are in the way here.
When I see him, I'll have it out with him.
If you are found out, you'll catch it.

Possessive Pronouns

§ 6. There are the following possessive pronouns in English:


  Singular Plural
1 st person my our
2nd person your your
3d person his ha- lts their

Possessive pronouns serve to modify nouns in the sentence,
i.e. they function as attributes,
e.g. The doctor usually came to his office at three o'clock.
Do you think you are losing your popularity?
Prom my place I could watch the people eating their lunch.
It should be noted that in English the possessive pronouns are
often used instead of articles with nouns denoting relations, parts
of the body, articles of clothing and various other personal be-

e.g. Bob nodded at his wife as if he wanted to say "You see?"
He bit his lips, but said nothing.
He took off his jacket and loosened his tie.
Amy put her cigarette back into her bag.

But there are certain idiomatic phrases where the definite ar-

ticle is used instead of a possessive pronoun,
e.g. I have a cold in the head.
He was shot through the heart.

He got red in the face.

He took me by the hand.

The ball struck him in the back.

He patted his wife on the shoulder.

§ 7. The possessive pronouns may also perform noun func-
tions. Then they are used in their so-called absolute forms: mine,
yours, his, hers, its, ours
and theirs.

e.g. She put her arm through mine.

They are not my gloves; I thought they were yours.
Theirs is a very large family.

Incidentally, its is hardly ever used as an absolute form.
Note. The form yours is commonly used as a conventional ending to letters,
e.g. Yours sincerely (truly, faithfully). J. Smith

Sometimes we find absolute forms of possessive pronouns pre-
ceded by the preposition of. This combination is called a double

e.g. He is a friend of mine.

It happened through no fault of his.

We had a slight accident and, luckily, that neighbour of
yours came along or we would still be there.

Reflexive Pronouns

§ 8. The reflexive pronouns are formed by adding -self (in the
plural selves) to the possessive pronouns in the 1st and 2nd persons
and to the objective case of the personal pronouns in the 3d person.


  Singular Plural
1st person myself ourselves
2nd person yourself yourselves
3d person himself herself itself themselves

There is one more reflexive pronoun which is formed from the
indefinite pronoun one — oneself.

These pronouns are used as noun pronouns in the sentence.
They are called reflexive pronouns because they show that the ac-
tion performed by the person which is indicated by the subject of
the sentence passes back again to the same person. In other
words, the subject of the sentence and its object indicate the same
person. In this case the reflexive pronouns are weakly stressed.

e.g. He wrapped himself in his blanket and fell off to sleep.
She cooked herself a big meal.

I'm sure you both remember the day when you talked about
yourselves and the past.

As is seen from the above examples, the reflexive pronouns
may serve in the sentence as different kinds of objects — direct,
indirect and prepositional.

Note 1. Note the following sentences where personal pronouns are preferred to
reflexive pronouns.

e.g. He went in, closing the door behind him.
She put the thought from her.
He looked about him.

Note 2. Note that both personal and reflexive pronouns are found in sentences
expressing comparison.

e.g. My brother is as tall as myself (me).

No one realizes it better than yourself (you).

§ 9. Reflexive pronouns may also be used in a different way:
together with the verb they may form set phrases characterized
by idiomatic meaning. The reflexive meaning of the self-pronoun

weakened in this case. The meaning of the verb differs from the
meaning of the same verb when it is followed by an object ex-
essed by a noun or an indefinite pronoun.
eg. He forgot Jane's address, ('забыл')
I'm afraid he's forgetting himself, ('забывается')
Finally I found the answer to the riddle, ('нашел')
Finally I found myself near a railway station, ('оказался')
She came to the theater ten minutes late, ('пришла')
At last she came to herself, ('пришла в себя')

A few other verbs are always followed by reflexive pronouns
with which they form a close sense-unit, e.g. to pride oneself on
something, to avail oneself of something.

We also find idiomatic uses of reflexive pronouns in such set
phrases as to be myself (himself, etc.) meaning to be or behave as
e.g. I'm glad to see that he is himselfagain.

Besides, there are a few prepositional phrases with reflexive
pronouns which are to be treated as set phrases because they have
idiomatic meaning,
e.g. Are we actually by ourselves again? ('одни')

He was almost beside himselfwith excitement, ('вне себя')
In spite of himselfhe was interested, ('наперекор себе', 'вопре-
ки своему желанию')

Go and find for yourselfhow it is done, ('сам')
It is a word complete in itself,('само по себе')
As formyself, I have no complaint to make, ('что касается


I came away and left him to himself,('оставил его одного')
We can drive the car amongourselves, ('вдвоем по очереди')

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