I'm reading Goldberg's Constructions and find her employing the symbol 'OBL' to represent a category of syntactic constituent.


I take it that 'OBL' is read 'oblique' in some sense; but I am puzzled to understand exactly what sense, since it seems to embrace both preposition phrases and adjective phrases (e.g. 'OBLPP/AP'), standing in for what I would categorize as adjectival and locative predicate complements. I have found no instance where 'OBL' is realized as a nominal, and it's not the object of a preposition, so it doesn't appear to be an oblique object in either of the senses I'm familiar with.

Can anyone provide a name and definition for this symbol? And for lagniappe, can anyone tell me how folks who use this symbol represent a nominal predicate complement?

1 Answer 1


Arguments that are neither subject nor object nor adjunct are obliques. For example, indirect objects and causees are obliques. They are usually indexed by θ roles.

  • This appears to be exactly what I want. Just to make sure, though: in this use, the bolded terms in these sentences would all be properly named "obliques"? -- Barack Obama was elected president. My car is black. We painted the living room blue. I put my keys on the table. He was eventually found by the forest rangers. Jul 18, 2016 at 11:54
  • @StoneyB In the second sentence "blue" is a nominal predicate. In the first sentence "president" is a secondary object. In most languages it would be an oblique though.
    – Atamiri
    Jul 18, 2016 at 12:36
  • In other words, it's not a very useful term :)
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 18, 2016 at 12:56
  • 1
    @curiousdannii It is useful and well-established.
    – Atamiri
    Jul 18, 2016 at 13:53
  • 1
    @StoneyB "My" definition of OBL comes from LFG. Moreover whether something is an OBL or not is language-specific. It seems that as with other linguistic terms, the definition depends on the theory used.
    – Atamiri
    Jul 18, 2016 at 14:46

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.