Okay I'm trying to make a tree and I keep getting stuck and I'm not quite sure where. The structure I'm stuck on is something like "think of the boy as my son" or "think of the president as America's king"

I not sure what to do with the second PP (is it even a PP? AdvP seems wrong but it somehow seems like both?)

I feel like [of the boy] and [as my son] should be sisters in the tree, but I also kind of see [as my son] as being under [of the boy]. Are either of these right? Or close to right? I tried finding an example and can't find anything very similar. Any help would be appreciated!

[S [NP *][VP [V think][V' [PP of the boy][pp as my son]]]] (this seems wrong because of the head sitting like a spec in the VP)

[S [NP *][VP [V think][V' [PP of the boy][V' [pp as my son]]]]] (this seems wrong because a double V'- is that allowed?)

[S [NP *][VP [V think][PP of the boy][pp as my son]]] (this seems wrong because it breaks binary branching)

Then I tried this because it seems to fit nicer, however [as my son] seems to feel more like it needs to be an aspect of 'how' you're thinking. It feels disconnected and misplaced buried in the NP- although it has no reference without [of the boy] so higher seems too important while here doesn't seem important enough.

[S [NP *][VP [V think][PP [P of][NP [D the][N' [N boy][PP as my son]]]]]]

Hopefully you can help point me in the right direction. I'm not in school now so I don't have a teacher/book- just my memories and Google. :)


  • How would you parse "I consider the boy my son?" Commented Feb 14, 2015 at 2:44
  • StonyB- I know you're trying to give me a similar example to help me see the answer in both, unfortunately I don't see it. I'd probably get angry that this isn't the kind of tree that I can burn down and remind myself that linguistics is so lovely when there's no syntax to deal with. Honestly though, my best attempt would openly violate the rules and be: [S [NP I][VP [V consider][NP the boy][NP my son]]] because I want [the boy] and [my son] to be sisters and I don't know how to do that with binary branching w/o the verb being like a spec and the v' holding 2 NPs (all kinds of nutty)
    – Grace
    Commented Feb 14, 2015 at 22:15
  • Well, I don't mind the verb having two complements, one of which is predicated of the other. "I've got you under my skin". Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 2:35
  • Here we're bumping up the underlying weirdness of Chomskian linguistics. Why have only binary branching, when there seems to be no sense in having such a constraint? Ah, but the less sense it makes, the better, because the language organ is distinct from our cognitive abilities, and we wish to characterize the language organ. If a constraint made sense, it would show that we were on the wrong track.
    – Greg Lee
    Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 2:54

1 Answer 1


How do you think of the boy? As your son?

  • Grace asked to be pointed in the right direction. My answer is a hint that does that. It's the best answer.
    – Greg Lee
    Commented Feb 14, 2015 at 1:01
  • Sorry Greg- I ignored your answer because I thought it was a dry attempt at humor because of the repetitive nature of my question. Yes, obviously the boy is being thought of "as a son," I assume you're trying to allude to 'as your son' needing to be like an ADVP to "think" which I like the idea of but still am stuck on the tree since a typical ADVP structure like [VP [AdvP quickly][V' [V jump][PP on the table]]] throws this sentence out of order: [VP [AdvP as my son][V' [V think][PP of the boy]]] but the V needs to be under the V'...? So thanks but I'm still lost...
    – Grace
    Commented Feb 14, 2015 at 22:27
  • I think that's on the right track. I don't think you should be assuming that a multi-word adverb and a single-word adverb of the same category would have the same left-right order with respect to other sentence constituents. Compare the order of "in a calm manner" and "calmly" -- ?"He in a calm manner had eaten his lamb chop." I also don't think you should be assuming that a multi-word constituent is necessarily of a different category than a single-word constituent. (I don't want to give the impression that I know the correct structure for the construction you're working on.)
    – Greg Lee
    Commented Feb 14, 2015 at 22:54
  • Ahh, now we're talking! I didn't mean to assume it needed to follow single-word ADV placement- that's just the only way I know. So you're suggesting something like [VP [V' [V think][PP of the boy]][AdvP as my son]] ? That I really like actually. I just didn't know that I could work right-left. I think that was the key I was missing. (Now is this what StoneyB was hinting at with making a tree for "consider the boy my son" because I suppose it could follow- but [VP [V' [V consider][NP the boy]][NP my son]] seems a bit off...[VP [V' [V consider][NP the boy]][ADVP like my son]] maybe? hmm..)
    – Grace
    Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 2:11
  • "as being my son" seems possible, with "the boy" as the understood subject of "be my son".
    – Greg Lee
    Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 2:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.