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Grammatical Functions of English P-words

Grammatical Functions of English P-words

P-words are prepositions and adverbs that no longer perform prepositional or adverbial functions. P-words are function words, which are defined as words that perform definite grammatical functions but that lack definite lexical meaning. P-words perform two grammatical functions within sentences in the English language. The two functions of p-words are:

The following sections explain and exemplify the two grammatical functions of p-words in English grammar.

P-words as Particles

The first grammatical function that p-words perform is the particle. A particle is a function word that expresses a grammatical relationship with another word or words. Particles appear within three constructions in English: phrasal verbs, quasi-modal verbs, and determiner phrases. For example, the following italicized p-words function as particles:

  • Can you look some addresses up for me? (phrasal verb)
  • Her boss really laid in on her lack of initiative. (phrasal verb)
  • He ought to consider buying some new dress shoes. (quasi-modal verb)
  • You had better pick up some milk and eggs on your way home. (quasi-modal verb)
  • Two of the chickens escaped from the hen house again. (determiner phrase)
  • I have already read many of the assigned readings. (determiner phrase)

P-words as Infinitive Markers

The second grammatical function that p-words perform is the infinitive marker. An infinitive markers is a function words that distinguishes the base form from the infinitive form of an English verb. For example, the following italicized p-words function as infinitive markers:

  • To err is human.
  • To not graduate now would be a shame.
  • She likes to read.
  • Grandma still needs to pickle the eggs.
  • His uncle is afraid to fly.
  • Too many people will never find someone to love.

The two grammatical functions of p-words in English grammar are particle and infinitive marker.

References

Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Using Verbs and Verb Phrases as Noun Phrase Modifiers

Using Verbs and Verb Phrases as Noun Phrase Modifiers

Using Adjective Clauses as Noun Phrase Modifiers

Using Adjective Clauses as Noun Phrase Modifiers