Regarding to drawing a syntax tree, "there" and "everything" in linguistics is a "pronoun" or "noun"?

For example, 1. There is an apple. 2. It is not everything.

  • 3
    My understanding is that in some analyses, "pronouns" are a subset of "nouns". Oct 13 '18 at 3:44
  • 1
    Honest question: does it matter for the syntax? Does anything break if you just call them both N and leave the exact details for the semantics, which is where indexicality and such are dealt with?
    – Draconis
    Oct 13 '18 at 3:50
  • Existential "there" is a pronoun, but there is no category (part of speech) 'pronoun'' -- it is thus a subclass of noun and labelled N in a tree. By contrast, "everything" is a compound determinative ("every" + "thing") and hence labelled D.
    – BillJ
    Oct 13 '18 at 7:37
  • 1
    May I ask if you intended "there" to express the existence of an apple, or its location?
    – BillJ
    Oct 13 '18 at 16:43
  • @BillJ - although there is a difference between the (few) traditional 'parts of speech' and the (more numerous) POS tags that are needed for a parser, 'pronoun' can be found in both sets, so I don't see why you say there is no such category.
    – amI
    Oct 14 '18 at 5:15

There is an apple is ambiguous in writing, but not in speech.
(This is normal for English sentences)

If it's pronounced with stressed there, it refers to the location of an apple, presupposed to exist in context. If it's pronounced with stressed apple, however, it refers to the existence (in context) of an apple, with no information about its location.

Indeed, one can say

  • There is an apple here.

a sentence where there clearly does not indicate location (because here does).

Don't worry about what to call these words. There are names, but they're not important. Besides, I bet they didn't give you a complete list of terms or how to distinguish them; they never do. Grammar books and teachers who go on about "parts of speech" just waste your time; learn the constructions and you can call the chunks anything you want.

But if you think of English grammar as word + word, you're sunk; grammar has little to do with words -- it's all constructions. That's one reason you can't learn grammar from a dictionary, which deals with words one at a time.

  • You're forgetting that the question was precisely about categories (parts of speech). It's not rocket science to allocate the words he asked about to the appropriate categories. And in any case, a decent tree diagram requires two labels to be assigned to each node: a function one and a category one.
    – BillJ
    Oct 14 '18 at 7:47
  • No, it's not rocket science. It's politics. Everybody uses their own category labels, and draws them from a different set of choices. There is no commonly-accepted list of word categories for English. And, as every grammarian knows, it's the structures that are important; node labels are strictly for mnemonic value. Questions about POS here are silly, and always have some false presuppositions behind them. I don't feel any obligation to solve anybody's homework for them.
    – jlawler
    Oct 14 '18 at 10:10
  • 1
    POS are useful if they help you to make accurate or useful predictions. With your two examples in mind, the fact that deictic there is a preposition helps explain why it can function freely as a PC, but less freely as a subject and hardly ever as an object plus many other facts about its modification and distribution. Whilst, other there is problematic, its classification in some grammars as a pronoun helps explain why it can freely function as subject, why it appears in question tags and other such facts (which would be difficult to explain if it was an adverb). POS are useful on occasion Mar 26 '19 at 20:46
  • Category systems are always useful if they represent natural divisions of categories. But you have to use just the right amount of categorization on just the right data, and there are often unwelcome side effects. Plus, of course, classifying there as a preposition doesn't explain anything; it just gives another (and ill-fitting) partial attribute to the lexeme. As noted, there is no universal POS list that everyone subscribes to, and everybody has their own favorites that they see everywhere, so answering questions about them is imo a waste of time.
    – jlawler
    Mar 26 '19 at 20:53

'There' is a spatial deictic as that, this. Traditional grammar considers them adverbs. As for 'everything', it is an indefinite pronoun. It is different from other pronouns (object, indirect object, ...), because it does not share with them any kind of person deixis.

  • 1
    Wait, "that" and "this" are adverbs, and not pronouns? This doesn't match my intuition or previous knowledge, except for when they are used colloquially in phrases like "I can't do it that easily".
    – LjL
    Oct 13 '18 at 14:02
  • Pronominalization does not materialize systematically by a morpheme. There is what it is called null morpheme or ellipsis. So it is assumed that in the sentence as 'I like that-∅' there is a null pronoun, illustrated by ∅, and 'that' is not a pronoun, it is still a demonstrative.
    – amegnunsen
    Oct 13 '18 at 16:03
  • I took "there" as existential, but it could be locative, in which case I would treat it as an intransitive preposition. And I would treat "everything" as a compound determinative that occurs as determiner-head with the syntactic fusion of the two functions marked by the morphological compounding of the determinative base "every" with the nominal one "thing".
    – BillJ
    Oct 13 '18 at 16:33
  • @amegnunsen and a demonstrative is an adverb? Granted, there can be demonstrative adverbs, and "there" would be one of them, but I really cannot see how "that" and "this" could be adverbs no matter how you turn them. I suspect the Wikipedia article would list them in the above section otherwise.
    – LjL
    Oct 14 '18 at 21:14
  • @LjL Locatative "there" is best analysed as an intransitive preposition, not an adverb. Existential "there" is of course a pronoun.
    – BillJ
    Oct 15 '18 at 7:43

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