For example:

The man refused to send any letters to that place.

This is what I have so far from the Syntax Tree Generator.

What should replace the X there?

  • "Refuse" is a catenative verb, so I'd label it a VP functioning as catenative complement of "refuse" – BillJ Dec 15 '16 at 20:24

I am not a fan of X-bar syntax, so I'll just offer a couple of remarks which might be relevant.

Your tree does not show that "send any letters to that place" is a constituent, but clearly it is. (1) It can undergo the rule of VP (or V') deletion: "Henry told the man to send them, but he refused to (0=send them)." (2) it can be coordinated with a like constituent: "The man refused to send them or destroy them." (3) It can be replaced by "do so" (see Lakoff and Ross "Criterion for VP constituency").

The X constituent is a complement of "refuse", but it doesn't seem to be nominal -- at least "He refused it" with "it" referring back to "to send them" sounds pretty bad to me, so that makes X some sort of S or verbal constituent. I think McCawley would make it a V'.

In my own theory How can PSG describe the vertical dimension of sentence structure?, which has no bars but distinguishes 4 degrees of obliqueness of phrases, it's an S2, meaning that it cannot contain any constituent of obliqueness less than 2 (which precludes Tense, Subject, sentence -ly adverb like "possibly", performative adverb, vocative, appositive). The grammatical relation "2" is like the same relation of Relational Grammar, and is the phrasal correspondent to a traditional accusative.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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