Questions tagged [grammar]

A body of rules, features, or generalizations which reliably differentiate between grammatical and ungrammatical constructions.

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Grammaticality of "as was common" [closed]

This structure stood out to me (a non-native speaker) because of the omission of the pronoun it: The Nihon Shoki was written in classical Chinese, as was common for official documents at that time. ...
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143 views

When/how did "articles" like "the" first appear in language?

I am wondering this sort of cross-linguistically. I know many (most?) languages don't have a word for "the", but the English language does. First part of the question is, did Middle English ...
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(how) do natural languages distinguish classes and instances of things?

In data modeling and other areas of knowledge organization there is often a strict separation between abstract classes of things and individual objects. For instance I am an instance of the class ...
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The grammatical analysis - "most of them civilians"

I came across this sentence today: They were most of them civilians. Now how will we analyse"most of them" here? Is it just a modifier in Noun Phrase - "most of them civilians"? ...
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1answer
60 views

Is there a root final stop in English?

Is there a root final stop in English? I can't seem to find any
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When can FOR be used as a preposition and a complementiser?

This question is based on several suppositions: For as a preposition is able to be transformed into a wh- question with the wh- phrase preposed with for, as below with senators John acting as the ...
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1answer
81 views

The verb "to hit" does not change the form between active voice and passive voice - implications [closed]

As adults we confidently grasp the concept of searching for context when information in a few words spoken to us is not enough. Moreover, we apply logic and cause-effect dependencies, filtering out ...
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2answers
86 views

Meaning of Old Babylonian word pāqidūtum [closed]

I am learning the Old Babylonian language and just stumbled over the word/form pāqidūtum. It seems to be a third person male stativ singular + u + the female ending tum of the verb paqadum (to care ...
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Could the at symbol '@' be considered a vocative marker?

Specifically, the at-symbol as used e.g. on Twitter or Github (or many other sites besides), e.g. '@somename, what do you think about this?' or '@foobar, I'm waiting!' Comparing it with English/German ...
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1answer
83 views

Does grammar allow two questions in one sentence? [closed]

This is not an English-specific question. In Japanese, you might also ask "何時から何時までですか。" Or "nan ji kare nan ji made desu ka", "From what time to what time?" (from Google)...
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Is there a name for the idea of having grammatical rules for the purpose of easy pronunciation?

For instance, in German you'll have Der Mann singular, Die Männer plural, instead of, say, Die Männen. It seems this is because you don't want to over-expose the speaker to the "n" sound. ...
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116 views

What's a grammatical feature?

This is not a naif question asked by a layman just out of curiosity. I am presently editing a book by a colleague which is devoted to the notion of grammatical feature (with a special focus on ...
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Combinatory categorial grammar for English

I am working on theoretical NLP things, in particular to do with combinatory categorial grammar (CCG). I don't have much knowledge of CCG, or of grammar in general. I was wondering how much of English ...
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Is there a universal (general) definition of gerund, infinitive and participle?

Is there a universal (general) definition of gerund, infinitive and participle applicable to all languages despite the differences between them?
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I have my hair cut - "my hair" a Direct Object?

I am confused about the following sentence: I have my hair cut. Now here I am not sure whether "my hair" is the Direct Object (DO) of the verb "have", or if it is just the ...
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4answers
132 views

What are some reasons why grammar is often more complex than needed for communication purposes?

It shouldn't be controversial to say that the grammar of certain languages is more complex than what communication calls for. For instance, some languages have gendered nouns, and it is often unclear ...
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What is terminology for the difference between, for instance, "see" and "sees"?

To clarify, I'm referring to the terminology for the difference between just a the word "see" as a verb, and the word in a statement like "Alice sees Bob". What is the correct ...
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115 views

Grammatical function vs. Semantic role

What is the difference between grammatical functions and semantic roles? Are they the same?
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972 views

Can one sentence have two or multiple possible phrase structure grammars? And what is this called?

After reading about syntactic structure and phrase structure grammar in Wikipedia and on the internet, I was wondering if there are any sentences with more than one possible phrase structure grammar? ...
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1answer
98 views

How do you tell a spelling mistake from a grammar mistake?

How do you tell a spelling mistake from a grammar mistake? For example: Your the best. This iz the end. I likes music. She preatend to be asleep. One method is to read the erroneous sentence aloud (...
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66 views

Question about a specific grammatical feature

In one Conlang I am developing there is a feature where owned items are treated as the subject of a verb, and the owner as the Object. So, for example: Car sohi Amelia Would mean Amelia's Car, with ...
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316 views

Is 'clothes' countable or uncountable? [closed]

I can't decide if the word 'clothes' is countable or uncountable. The dictionary only writes - plural.
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1answer
49 views

Past Simple vs Present Perfect Continuous in questions [closed]

It is my first ask in this forum. I am not sure about proper grammar usage, so I want to ask someone who knows it well. If I want to ask a person for a duration of time he has worked at the specific ...
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Interleaving (Cross serial dependency) using context sensitive grammars

I saw from different sources that Context Free Grammars are insufficient to generate cross serial dependencies (interleaving) in languages and it would require mildly context sensitive grammars to do ...
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Automating the identification of a language grammar based on samples -- is this something that is done, and what is it called?

I'm trying (not very successfully) to find research papers to help with a project. Suppose you had a relatively small sample of a target language (e.g. a bible translation) and you would like to write ...
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What are some more examples of doubly centre embedded clauses?

Hey guys I am a uni student doing psycholinguistics and currently studying doubly centre embedded clauses for a study on comprehension. For example a phrase such as: "The man the boy the cat ...
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172 views

What makes "can't get any" a double-negative, according to Steven Pinker?

The Rolling Stones famously sang "I can't get no satisfaction", which is a double-negative. "I can't get any satisfaction" is seen as more grammatical in modern English. In his ...
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For English, is there a finite set of patterns for constructing sentences?

I am wondering about conlangs and thinking about English currently. I'm wondering does English have a finite set of patterns for constructing sentences? That is, could you build a computer program ...
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219 views

Why is the subject outside the VP in most theories of syntax?

I'm trying to understand why in most theories of syntax, the subject of a sentence is the sister of the verb, and not the child eg: S -> NP VP instead of VP -> NP V (NP...) The latter feels more ...
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81 views

Verb-ing after this phrase or clause "this is my first time"

Is the verb with '-ing' in the phrase or clause "this is my first time eating this" a gerund or a present participle verb? I think now I see that "this" probably is or means "...
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Where can I find a table/list of all/many languages' plural/singular forms for hours/time?

Even though I'm natively Swedish, I'm seriously unsure if it's "1,1 timme" or "1,1 timmar". That is, what in English would be "1.1 hour" or "1.1 hours". Even as ...
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1answer
201 views

Arabic grammar: The difference between the terms raf` and marfu'

I have begun to learn Arabic, and the difference between following terms confuse me. There is this topic of ʾirāb—the science which deals with how the Arabic noun inflects with respect to its ...
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230 views

What exactly is the Structure-Dependency Principle

Could someone explain what structure-dependency is in layman terms, and why it's so important? Resources I've found on the internet weren't of much help so I'm asking on here. Thanks!
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135 views

What can explain the appearance of "self-made" language features if neither of languages a person speaks or learns have similar features?

I know a woman, whose native language is Kyrgyz (Turkic family) and who learned Russian as an adult (mostly, maybe she was somewhat exposed to it before as well). What striked me is that she invented ...
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44 views

Adjunct vs complement with intransitive verb

Tony came from outside the traditional media Am I right in thinking because came is intransitive that "outside the traditional media" is an adjunct rather than a subject complement?
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87 views

Where did English get its perfect tense(s) from?

Apologies if this is too basic, but I know very little about linguistics and figured this would be a good place to ask. English seems like it draws from several other langiuages, notably the romance ...
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56 views

What is the name of the formulation where you specify sentence parts

Say I have the sentence: The cat sat on the mat What's the name of the formulation: The-DET. cat-NOUN. sat-VERB. on-PREP. the-DET. mat-NOUN Or this example from Wikipedia Kin á-ø-sh-łééh make-3....
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1answer
125 views

Is English grammar teaching tradition rooted in Latin?

I heard once that the way English grammar was taught as school was rooted in Latin and it wasn't a correct approach for a number of reason ? This was a long time ago, so I cannot remember the details. ...
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1answer
73 views

What do the numbers 206.835, 1.015, 84.6, 0.39, 11.8, 15.59 mean in the Flesch reading ease and Flesch-Kincaid grade level formulas?

I am looking to understand what do these numbers mean in the formulas, and how do they affect results, and why they were specifically chosen. Here are the formulas: Flesh reading Ease = 206.835 - 1....
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472 views

Is it possible in Sanskrit to distinguish between the names Rāma and Rām i.e. राम and राम् when used in a sentence?

Consider this sentence: रामो लेखन्या लिखति Is रामो in that sentence always referring to someone named राम (Rāma) or could it be equally possible that the person's name was राम् (Rām)? Are names like ...
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448 views

Subconscious grammar knowledge

I am reading the textbook Contemporary Linguistic Analysis by William O'Grady ninth edition. The text makes the claim that "grammatical knowledge is subconscious". They submit that most ...
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174 views

Is there evidence of a disposition for certain races to learn certain languages? [closed]

For example would those of Chinese descent have a disposition to learn Chinese? Chinese is a quite different language being logographic then say English which is alphabetic. Another example would be ...
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How does syntax of our language affect our thoughts?

Our language affects the way we perceive the world. I know it is not only because the words that don’t exist in one of the languages may exist in the other ones, but also because of the grammar. We ...
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Are there languages that don't have this kind of ambiguity?

In the sentence "John told James that he's happy.", the pronoun "he" is ambiguous, since it could refer to either John or James. Are there any languages which try to solve this ...
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96 views

How to differenciate the long vowels from the actual letters in arabic?

I'm learning beginner in arabic and I can't find a proper grammar rule to figure it out. There is a lot of lessons on long vowels but they are totally disjointed from the question "How to ...
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1answer
97 views

How to determine grammatical complexity using quantitative features?

I'm doing a research on defining the complexity of language used in technical documentations for technologies (libraries and modules) used in data science and machine learning engineering. And I'm ...
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71 views

Are there approaches to/theories of grammar that do not deal with the acceptability problem?

As I understand, grammars boil down to the acceptability problem: Is an utterance acceptable to the users of some language X? How to differentiate acceptable from non-acceptable utterances? Those who ...
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1answer
74 views

The semantics of grammatical transformations? [closed]

Please see the following: We start with a sentence/clause like - Mr Wilkins is the oldest person in the village. It seems like we can "transform" the clause using certain "grammatical rules": Mr ...
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43 views

Do nouns in simple apposition semantically unpack to predicate nominatives in English?

A Koine Greek grammar states that nouns in simple apposition are semantically understood as predicate nominatives. So, "Paul the apostle" unpacks to "Paul is the apostle" and "the apostle is Paul" ...
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586 views

Why is Spanish SVO and not VSO?

I understand that Spanish sentences have an SVO sentence structure. (S)(Yo) (V)compro (O)los zapatos. What confuses me is the fact that when the subject is a pronoun, it is omitted so often that you ...

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