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Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Mar 8, 2019 in Questions about English Grammar by 116070100232dsy (580 points) | 1,393 views

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主谓宾 refers to following grammatical terms: subject, predicate and object. As in English, simple clauses the subject (S) precedes the verb (V) and the object (O) follows.

The grammatical subject in English simple clauses precedes the verb, is morphologically unmarked (i.e. appears without a preposition), and requires grammatical agreement with the verb, at least to the limited extent that exists in English, as in:

The woman is tall

From a discourse-pragmatic perspective, the subject is the primary topic of the clause. It is the most important participant of the discourse at the point when the clause is processed. This role of the subject can be demonstrated independently of grammar, but also explains many of the grammatical properties of subjects.

The direct object in English simple clauses follows the verb, is morphologically unmarked (i.e. appears without a preposition), and does not require grammatical agreement with the verb. In discourse pragmatic terms, the direct object tends to be the secondary topic of the clause. That is, it tends to be less important ('topical') in the discourse than the subject, but more important than the indirect object (if present). As noted earlier, the direct object position may be occupied by various semantic roles, as in:

They cut the meat

Indirect objects in English simple clauses follow the verb, as well as the direct object (if present). They are morphologically marked by a preposition, one that most typically marks the semantic role of the participant occupying the indirect object grammatical role. Put another way, prepositions in English have a strong semantic role. In discourse-pragmatic terms, the indirect object is non-topical. Typical indirect objects are:

She went to the store

Nominal predicates in English follow copular verbs such as 'be', are morphologically unmarked (take no preposition), and are pragmatically non-topical. As illustrations, consider:

She is a teacher

[1] Givón T. English grammar: A function-based introduction[M]. John Benjamins Publishing, 1993.

answered Oct 14, 2020 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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