The Verb Phrase (VP)
The distribution of the verb phrase
A VP can occur
- Following a noun phrase: The teacher __.
- Following an auxiliary: The teacher can __.
- Following infinitival to: Chis wants to __.
A VP can be substituted by the pro-form do so
- Pat [read the newspaper] and Chris , too.
- Pat is [reading the newspaper] and Chris is , too.
- Pat is reading the newspaper in the kitchen ...
- ... and Chris is , too. (doing so refers to reading the newspaper in the kitchen)
- ... and Chris is in the living room. (doing so refers to reading the newspaper)
The internal structure of the verb phrase
- A VP must contain a verb.
- A VP can contain:
- an NP (in accusative)
- a PP (in particular, a PP starting with to, for, about)
- a subordinate clause introduced with a complementizer
The VP has the same relation to the verb as the N' level to the noun. Therefore, there may be several VPs embedded in one another.
Example 1: A VP with an NP and a that-clause.
Example 2: A VP with temporal modifier.
Syntactic theories differ with respect to the way they treat auxiliaries. In GB, auxiliaries are lexical items of a particular functional word class, (Inflection).
In HPSG, auxiliaries are considered as a subclass of verb.
Both theories, however, agree that the auxiliary is the central element in such a combination. For the purpose of the Traditional Grammar part, we will simply write AuxP for this constitutent.
Example 3: A combination of an auxiliary and a VP.
Avoiding theoretical discussions, we will assume that the negation particle not (or n't) is a sister of Aux and VP.
Example 4: A combination of a negated auxiliary and a VP: