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Grammatical Relation 2021

In linguistics, grammatical relations (also called grammatical functions, grammatical roles, or syntactic functions) are functional relationships between constituents in a clause. The standard examples of grammatical functions from traditional grammar are subject, direct object, and indirect object. In recent times, the syntactic functions (more generally referred to as grammatical relations), typified by the traditional categories of subject and object, have assumed an important role in linguistic theorizing, within a variety of approaches ranging from generative grammar to functional and cognitive theories.[1] Many modern theories of grammar are likely to acknowledge numerous further types of grammatical relations (e.g. complement, specifier, predicative, etc.). The role of grammatical relations in theories of grammar is greatest in dependency grammars, which tend to posit dozens of distinct grammatical relations. Every head-dependent dependency bears a grammatical function.

grammatical relation

Grammatical categories are assigned to the words and phrases that have the relations. This includes traditional parts of speech like nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc., and features like number and tense.

The subject Fred performs or is the source of the action. The direct object the book is acted upon by the subject, and the indirect object Susan receives the direct object or otherwise benefits from the action. Traditional grammars often begin with these rather vague notions of the grammatical functions. When one begins to examine the distinctions more closely, it quickly becomes clear that these basic definitions do not provide much more than a loose orientation point.

What is indisputable about the grammatical relations is that they are relational. That is, subject and object can exist as such only by virtue of the context in which they appear. A noun such as Fred or a noun phrase such as the book cannot qualify as subject and direct object, respectively, unless they appear in an environment, e.g. a clause, where they are related to each other and/or to an action or state. In this regard, the main verb in a clause is responsible for assigning grammatical relations to the clause "participants".

Most grammarians and students of language intuitively know in most cases what the subject and object in a given clause are. But when one attempts to produce theoretically satisfying definitions of these notions, the results are usually less than clear and therefore controversial.[2] The contradictory impulses have resulted in a situation where most theories of grammar acknowledge the grammatical relations and rely on them heavily for describing phenomena of grammar but at the same time, avoid providing concrete definitions of them. Nevertheless, various principles can be acknowledged that attempts to define the grammatical relations are based on.

The thematic relations (also known as thematic roles, and semantic roles, e.g. agent, patient, theme, goal) can provide semantic orientation for defining the grammatical relations. There is a tendency for subjects to be agents and objects to be patients or themes. However, the thematic relations cannot be substituted for the grammatical relations, nor vice versa. This point is evident with the active-passive diathesis and ergative verbs:

The grammatical relations belong to the level of surface syntax, whereas the thematic relations reside on a deeper semantic level. If, however, the correspondences across these levels are acknowledged, then the thematic relations can be seen as providing prototypical thematic traits for defining the grammatical relations.

Another prominent means used to define the syntactic relations is in terms of the syntactic configuration. The subject is defined as the verb argument that appears outside of the canonical finite verb phrase, whereas the object is taken to be the verb argument that appears inside the verb phrase.[3] This approach takes the configuration as primitive, whereby the grammatical relations are then derived from the configuration. This "configurational" understanding of the grammatical relations is associated with Chomskyan phrase structure grammars (Transformational grammar, Government and Binding and Minimalism).

Many efforts to define the grammatical relations emphasize the role inflectional morphology. In English, the subject can or must agree with the finite verb in person and number, and in languages that have morphological case, the subject and object (and other verb arguments) are identified in terms of the case markers that they bear (e.g. nominative, accusative, dative, genitive, ergative, absolutive, etc.). Inflectional morphology may be a more reliable means for defining the grammatical relations than the configuration, but its utility can be very limited in many cases. For instance, inflectional morphology is not going to help in languages that lack inflectional morphology almost entirely such as Mandarin, and even with English, inflectional morphology does not help much, since English largely lacks morphological case.

The difficulties facing attempts to define the grammatical relations in terms of thematic or configurational or morphological criteria can be overcome by an approach that posits prototypical traits. The prototypical subject has a cluster of thematic, configurational, and/or morphological traits, and the same is true of the prototypical object and other verb arguments. Across languages and across constructions within a language, there can be many cases where a given subject argument may not be a prototypical subject, but it has enough subject-like traits to be granted subject status. Similarly, a given object argument may not be prototypical in one way or another, but if it has enough object-like traits, then it can nevertheless receive the status of object.

This third strategy is tacitly preferred by most work in theoretical syntax. All those theories of syntax that avoid providing concrete definitions of the grammatical relations but yet reference them often are (perhaps unknowingly) pursuing an approach in terms of prototypical traits.[clarification needed]

Grammatical relations (GRs) are structurally defined relations between words in phrases and clauses. Common terms used to refer to particular grammatical relations are subject, direct object, indirect object, ergative, absolutive, genitive, and oblique. Sometimes the oblique relation (discussed below) is considered to be the absence of a grammatical relation. Like other structural notions, GRs are defined independently of function (such as semantics or topicality), though they clearly have communicative functions. Even as the structure of any tool is logically distinct from (though intimately connected to) its function, so GRs are logically distinct from the functions that they perform. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that GRs play a significant role in expressing meaningful distinctions, such as who is acting upon whom, what is topical, and so on.

Grammatical relations indicate the syntactic relationships between a verb and the noun phrases present in a clause. Commonly used grammatical relations include subject, direct object and indirect object. Noun phrases which are not a core argument (i.e., are not a subject or object of the verb) are called oblique. In English, oblique noun phrases are usually objects of prepositions.

Note that now, although the events described in (1) and (2) are similar, the two non-subject noun phrases Jones and a kumquat change grammatical relations. It is important to remember that although grammatical relations correlate to some degree with thematic relations (a semantic concept), grammatical relations are not semantic and they are not the same as thematic relations. Consider (3):

Grammatical relation is a part of linguistics that studies the relationships of elements within a clause, phrase, or sentence from a grammatical point of view. The primary means of studying this is through the relationships of the subject, objects, adjuncts, and complements. These relationships then determine the grammatical cases and categories of the words contained with the sentence and thus help to determine the syntax of the sentence.

Linguists have used grammatical relation theory to determine the idea of relational grammar and also a further development called arc pair grammar. Both are counter-theories to Noam Chomsky's ideas of transformational grammar, which looks at the deeper meanings of sentence structure. In relational grammar, the basic grammatical relationships of a language determine the later development of syntactic relationships. In other words, all conceptual notions are born out of function and not vice versa.

The grammatical relation the subject has with the verb and the object determines the structure. This makes the subject the most important part of the sentence. In the sentence "Bob hit Jim with a cream pie," Bob is the subject and determines the form of the rest of the sentence.

In the field of grammatical relation, the subject is always the subject and the object is always the object. This is the major difference between grammatical relation and syntax. Once the basic functions and forms of all the words in the sentence have been determined, their thematic or syntactic values can be identified.

Differentiating grammatical relation and syntax in this sense is like splitting apart a layer cake. The layer of cake is the function and the layer of cream is the thematic value. While the subject and object are constant, either one of them can be the agent or the patient, or even the instrument in syntactic terms.

The agent is the person or object that does the action. Patients are the ones that receive the action. Instruments are used to do the action by the agent. The following three sentences demonstrate how the grammatical relation of the words determines the syntactic functions: 041b061a72


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