This 57th collection of students’ pearls of wisdom, laboriously digitised from hand-
Propose a syntactic label for the underlined constituent in the sentence below, using constituency tests to explain your choice of label.
The room looked rather dark and damp.
It is a statement. ‘rather dark and damp’ can be passivised into ‘unappealing’ and only one NP is present.
‘rather dark and damp’ is a PP because we can replace it with a noun such as ‘uncomfortable’.
Movement test: rather dark, the room looked damp, which is an interchangeable phrase.
You can replace it with mysterious, in paradigmatic relations.
Label: gloomy. You can replace it with dim and wet, or musty, so the constituent is well-
Head. Since the sentence cannot be passivised, ‘the room’ becomes the subject.
Can be passivied: dark and damp was how the room looked.
This is an adverbial phase. ‘rather’ is a premodifier to the condition of the room.
It is a phrase structure because it must occur with a direct object, room.
Adjunct, because it conveys the manner of event, in this case the state of the room.
The label is VP → V NP. ‘rather’ is an adverb which acts like a verb.
This is a copular verb and the sentence means ‘depressing’.
There is structural ambiguity in the grouping.
Movement: if you change dark and damp, the room will look different.
More to come...