Syntax


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.

Exception:
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).
Example:
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)

Complication:
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)

Note:
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