Coordination test

I. Basis of test

(a) Only constituents can be coordinated; non-constituent sequences cannot be.
(b) Only constituents of the same syntactic category and projection can be coordinated.

Certain constituents of the same projection but different syntactic categories can be coordinated if the two constituents serve the same semantic function:
[AP stupid] and [NP a Republican]
[AdvP easily] and [PP in no time]

II. The structure of coordination

Conjuncts are sisters dominated by a mother node of the same category (producing an odd X' structure which has more than one head).
John annoyed [his father and his mother].
Proform test:
John annoyed them. (his father and his mother is an NP)
John annoyed him and her. (the conjuncts are NPs)

Example: NP [his father and his mother]

III. Application to specific categories

(a) VPs
John will [ [anger his father] and [disturb his mother] ]. (VP & VP)
John will slowly [ [anger his father] and [disturb his mother] ]. (V' & V')
* They will slowly [ [anger his father] and [all disturb his mother] ]. (V' & VP)
John will quickly [ [shred] and [burn] his report card] ]. (V & V)

(b) NPs
They found [NP [NP old records] and [NP furniture] ]. (only the records are old; NP & NP)
They found [NP [N' old [N' [N' records] and [N' furniture] ]. (the records and furniture are old; N' & N')

(c) PPs
She ran [down the hill] and [into the forest]. (PP & PP)
* She looked [up the number] and [out the window]. (out the window is a PP, but up the number is not: up is part of the phrasal verb look up)
The vase fell [right [off the table] and [onto the floor] ]. (P' & P')
She was able to meet him [ [before] or [after] lunch] ]. (P & P)

PPs can be coordinated only when conjuncts serve the same semantic function:
* John ate with his fingers and on Monday. (with his fingers is an adverbial of means and on Monday is an adverbial of time)

In the text above we refer to constituents of the type [determiner + noun] (e.g. the door) as NPs. In a more recent analysis, determiners are considered to be the head (D) of a determiner phrase (DP), and the noun functions as its NP-complement.
For further information on DPs click here.

Exercises on the coordination test