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Syntactic Theory

The Adjective Phrase (AP)

The distribution of the adjective phrase

An AP can occur

  • following a 'linking verb' (copula verb): Kim is/feels/sounds/smells __.

The pro-form so can be used to refer to an AP: Kim is [very interested in snooker] and so is Pat.

The internal structure of the adjective phrase

  • An AP must contain an adjective
  • An AP may contain:
    • a degree word (very, quite, extremely) at the left periphery of the AP
    • a PP following the AP (proud [PP: of their children], fond [PP: of icecream])
    • an infinitival VP introduced with to following the AP (eager [to leave early], easy [to read])
    • a clause (certain [that Kim will arrive on time])

In English, an AP in prenominal (i.e. attributive) position may not contain elements following the adjective:

  • Kim is [AP: very proud [PP: of the children]].
  • the [AP: very proud] teacher
  • *the [AP: very proud [PP: of the children]] teacher

Example 1: An AP with a degree word and a clause
               /  |         \
              /   |      ____S_____
            Adv   A     /          \
             |    |    /____________\
    Kim is very happy that Pat called.

Further reading on the other major phrases, NP, VP, PP.

Categories: Glossary