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Syntactic Theory

The Oblique Complement

Test for identifying oblique complements in English

  • An oblique complement is a PP or an AdvP which behaves like a complement, i.e. it is
    • semantically implied
    • syntactically necessary
    • cannot be used with a pro-VP form such as do so:
      ''John put a book on the shelf and Mary did so (*into the drawer), too.
  • but: it does not fit the definition of any of the other grammatical functions.
  • typical examples:
    • a particular preposition is required by the verb: wait for, substitute with, rely on, talk to ... about ..., ...
    • the verb requires a directional phrase, independent of how this is lexicalized: put s.th. [somewhere]obl.compl

Categories and structural position

  • Oblique complements are always PPs.
  • It is a sister of V and NP and dominated by a VP.

             /   \
            /     AuxP
           /     /  \
        subj    /   VP
         /     /   /  \
        /     /   / obl.comp
       /     /   /    |       
     NP   Aux   V    _PP__
    /__\   |    |   /_____\
    Pat  will wait  for Kim.

Read further on other grammatical functions:

Categories: Glossary