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AdjGps; AdvGps; VGps; NGps; PPhrases

 Difference between Groups and Phrases

They make up clauses as participants They make up clauses too as
or circumstances circumstances or qualifiers within
Groups. This explains why they are
both at the same rank.
Groups are “extended words” or Phrases are structures of
“extensions of words”. Thus, NGps, complementation and thus they are
AdGps, AdvGps, VGps are extended made up of a head (the preposition)
nouns, adjectives, adverbs and verbs and its complement (the completive,
respectively. usually a Ngp). Just like verbs have
complements and make up clauses
together w/them, prepositions have
complements. This is why they are
called “mini-clauses”

 Test to confirm differences between Gps and PPs

If we progressively remove the elements in the pre-modification or post-

modification structure of Groups as below, we get a single word, which proves
that Groups are extended words.

 Nominal group (NGp): those three splendid express trains with

pantographs, those three splendid express trains; those three express
trains; those three trains, those trains, trains

 Verbal group (VGp): must have been being understood, had been
being understood; had been understood; had understood, understood

 Adjective and the Adverb Group: They met at the new railway station,
they met at the railway station, they met at the station,

 Prepositional phrases:

If we strip a PP of all the elements, as above, except for the Head (i.e., the
Preposition), the structure that we obtain in the end is incomplete. This confirms
the PP is a structure of complementation that can only make sense if the
Preposition is followed by a Complement that completes its meaning (this is why
the Complement of a Preposition is also called a Completive). (i.e., they met
 Structure of the AdjG

It is composed of three structural elements: a head (h), a modifier (m) and a


The head of an AdjG is always realized by an adjective, which may function

alone in representation of a whole AdjG. The AdjG is thus also an expanded

 General characteristics

The adjective group always functions as Subject Complement in clauses after

linking verbs or, in transitivity terms, as Attributes. Examples of adjective groups
in this function are the following:

 These goods are tax-free.  The news is most distressing.

 It was getting darker and  He was afraid of the dark.
darker.  The problem was difficult to
 His acting was brilliant. solve
 The knife is too sharp.  He was so afraid that he
 He looked awfully tired. could barely talk.

 General characteristics

The Adverb is a more heterogeneous word class than the Adjective and
consists of three major sets.

 Circumstantial: C. of spatial location (here, there, outside, inside), C. of

spatial location (today, yesterday), C. of manner (carefully, recklessly,
quickly, slowly, despondently)

 Expressive/Interpersonal: modality (probably/certainly), degree

(extremely, highly, too), comment (thankfully, hopefully)

 Conjunctive: addition (moreover, furthermore), contrast (yet), condition

(otherwise), etc.

All can be extended, but the one with most potential for being extended is the
first class

 Circumstantial AdvGps – Meaning

Semantically, circumstantial adverbial groups express qualities of processes
(verbs) (= circumstances), just as adjectives express qualities of „things‟.

 “She drove recklessly” (C. of manner)

 “She got up early” (C. of time)
 “She went outside/inside” (C. of spatial location)
 “They worked long” (C. of extent: duration)

 Structure of the AdvGp

The structure of the AdvGp is similar to that of the AdjGp, that is, it is composed
of three elements: the head (h), the modifier (m) and the qualifier (q). These
elements combine to form the following four basic structures:

 Structure illustrated

 The head is always realised by an adverb.

 The modifier is realised typically by grading and intensifying adverbs.

 The qualifier expresses a different type of meaning from that of the

modifier, as it does in AdjGps. It further specifies the meaning of the
adverbial Head, by expressing the scope or context of the meaning
expressed or by defining the modifier more explicitly (e.g. more correctly
than before).

 She decided to live far away from civilization.

 She ran so fast that I couldn’t catch him.
 She said it (quite) clearly (enough).

 Different kinds of verbal groups

The verbal group (VG) structure can be:


 Non-extended: Those consisting of one element only (a lexical verb, as

in runs, asked), or

 Extended: Those consisting of one or more auxiliaries + a lexical verb (as

in “may have been running, has been running, was run over by a car”,


A non-extended VGp structure consists of a single element, usually the lexical

element, realised by a finite or non-finite form of a lexical verb, for example


 They drive on the left in the UK  (to) drive It is important to drive
with care

 He drives to work every day.  Driving to work, I listen to the news.

 He drove out of the garage.  Driven away by night, the car was

 Extended Verbal Groups

Extended VGs can contain up to 4 auxiliaries in the following sequencing when

they all occur:

 Modal + Aux of the Perfect tenses + Aux of the Progressive tenses + Aux of
the Passive voice

 He must have been being robbed at that very moment

The first auxiliary or the only auxiliary in the VGp is called the operator (o). It has
a special status in the VGp. It is the auxiliary that can express modality, tense,
number, person and that can express negative or positive polarity by
combining or not with the negative particle “not”. It can also signal mood by
the relative position it takes with respect to the S or its absence or presence or
inversion with the Subject they can signal different moods (imperative;
declarative, interrogative).

 Extended structures of the VG:

In VGs with more than one auxiliary, the first one is the operator (o), the others
being just auxiliaries indicating modality, perfect tense, progressive aspect,
voice, etc. and being identified with an (x). The lexical verb is marked with a


 Must drive ov
 Will have driven oxv
 Should have been driving oxxv
 Can have been being driven oxxxv

 Non-finite Verbal Groups:

Non-Finite VGs can also be non-extended or extended as shown in the

following examples:

 Non-extended “He passed the subject by studying hard”

 Extended “Having been invited to a party, she decided to go out and

buy something nice to wear.”

Extended VGs in Non-Finite clauses can express Perfect time, Passive Voice,
Polarity, but not person or number.

 A second classification for VGs


There are VGps that have more than one lexical verb, like “have had to face”
or “began to work” or “managed to pass”. These ones are included in a second
classification of VGs, according to which VGs can be simple or complex verbal

 Simple VGps are made up of only one lexical verb and they can be
non-extended or extended: “he fought in the war”; “he has fought in the
war”; “he has been fighting in Afghanistan for two years”.

 Complex VGps are made up of two lexical verbs, the first of which can
be finite or non-finite and the second of which is always non-finite. Again
they can be non-extended or extended: “he managed to convince
her”(non-extended), “he has managed to convince her”, “He has been
trying to convince her for some time now” (extended)

VGps can be cross-classified as non-extended or extended and simultaneously
as simple or complex, as shown in the following table:


(One lexical verb) (Two lexical verbs)

(made up of one main  She convinced him.  She managed to convince him.

Extended  She has convinced him.  She has managed to convince him.
(made up of main verb  She will convince him.  She will manage to convince him.
and auxiliaries)  She didn’t convince him.  She didn’t try to convince him.

 Complex Verbal Groups

Which of the two verbs is more central to the clause?

In Complex VGs the second verb that is more central to the clause. The reason
for this is that the second verb makes more meaning and also determines the
structure of the clause. The first verb makes an additional meaning, which is
called “phase”.

 Complex Verbal Groups Subclassification:



 Structure

The elements of the PP are: the „modifier‟ (m): straight to bed; the „head‟ (h)
straight to bed; and the „completive‟ (c): straight to bed. The internal structure
of PPs can be represented as follows. Not all PPs contain a modifier, but all of
them contain a preposition and a completive. In fact, the modifier normally
relates to the preposition + completive taken together as a single item.

M (Modifier) H (Head) C (Completive)

right into the policeman’ arms
completely out of date
straight along this road
just at that moment
quite near here
only about studying harder

 Functions

The PPhrase can function as qualifier within a NGp, an Adj Gp or an AdvGp OR

as Circumstance in a clause.

 Examples of PPhrases as qualifiers

 The gentleman with the tilted hat is a very well know physician
 Lady in red, you are dancing with me, cheek to cheek
 The clothes on the bed are the ones I will carry with me
 The trip through the jungle was tiring but interesting
 We want to avoid the loss of life

 Examples of PPhrases as circumstances

 She drove the car with great care/without any care. (C. of manner)
 She left the room on her own/with some friends. (C. of
 She works as a stewardess for an international air company. (C. of role: guise)
 In my opinion/To my mind/According to a friend of mine, the accident was
simulated. (C. of angle)
 Due to her negligence/owing to her negligence/On account of her negligence
the company lost millions of dollars. (C. of cause: reason)
 We work for peace and understanding. (C. of cause: purpose)

 Definition in terms of meaning

Nominal groups can be defined in terms of the meanings they express/encode

or the function they perform in the higher-ranking unit they make up.
Meaningwise, they are extended nouns that name and describe things, people,
places and events/qualities. The last ones are abstract nouns, usually
nominalizations. Ngps express experiential meaning (i. e. meaning about the
world), as they represent things, people, places and events and qualities (in the
case of nominalizations) in the world, and indirectly realize field, i.e. the subject-
matter of the text (a text with football as field/subject-matter will have very
different NGps as a text with, say, art as field).


 the child’s teddy-  my mother  the kitchen  the
bear  my dearest  those very ample industrialization
 some flour friend, the boss rooms of Great Britain
 those interesting  the very capable  the mountains  Great Britain’s
histories German Prime  the country claim over the
 books over there Minister where she lived islands
 many large  that lady next for so many years  his argument that
windows looking door nothing can be
onto the street done about it
 houses  the beauty of the
 computer place

 Definition in terms of function

In terms of their function in the higher-ranking unit they make up, the clause,
NGps typically, but not always, realize in the clause the participants of an
action or process, though they can also be part of a circumstance in the
clause as they can be completive of prepositions in PPhrases.

 The German Prime Minister did not attend the meeting (participants).

 The house had many windows looking onto the street. (participants).

 The industrialization of Britain started in the 18th c. (participant; part of a

circumstance of time).

 The visitors remarked on the beauty of the place (participant; part of a circumstance
 of matter).

 Summing up definition

NGps are extended nouns that represent experience by naming and

describing things, people, objects, places and sometimes events and qualities
(nominalizations), and that typically, but not always, realize, in the clause, the
participants of an action or process or are part of a circumstance in the clause.

 Elements/Functions/Meanings in it

In general, a NGp consists of a main noun or “head-word” (called the Thing by

Halliday) and has the potential to be expanded by adding information before
the head-word (pre-modification) and after it (post-modification). For example,
we could say:

“I enjoy looking at trains”, where the NGp that is a completive of the Pphrase
(trains) is made up of only a head, or we could extend the NGp further by pre-
and post-modification as in

“Look at those two splendid electric trains with pantographs*”.


THING (head)

Wihin SFG the premodifier is analysed in more detail and several functions are
identified in it using semantic labels, and the post-modifier is seen more
specifically as a qualifier.

 Functions/Elements/Meanings in it: preliminary presentation


Thing (Th.)
trains What (is being represented)?
Deictic (D) pointing word those, these, the, my, your Which/Whose (thing is this)?
etc. Point to it
First, second (ordinal); one, In which order (does the
two, three (cardinal) Thing occur with respect two
Numerative (N) other members of the class)?;
How many (members of the
class of thing are involved)?
Epithet (E) splendid What (is the Thing) like?
Classifier (C) electric What kind (of Thing) is it?
Qualifier (Q) with pantographs/fitted with Which one/ones more
pantographs/that have been precisely/exactly? Adding
fitted with pantographs more specification after the

 Functions in the NGp explained


Points to the Thing in terms of whether This, those; his, my, John’s; the;
it’s close or far from speaker some (of the), any (of the), all (of
(demonstratives), known or unknown the), neither (of the), one; a, an;
Deictic information (the); who its possessor is; it
relates the Thing to the speaker-now,
especially with demonstratives and
Postdeictic: same, different,
complete, entire, whole
Gives specific or non-specific numerical -Specific: first, second; two,
Numerative information about quantity or -Non specific: several, many, few
information about order
Describes what the Thing is like: aspects
or qualities such as size, age, shape, -Descriptive: green, tall, dusty,
colour, etc. (descriptive Epithet =Ed), or sharp, old, smelly
Epithet expresses attitude, evaluation to it
(attitudinal Epithet =Ea). It’s always an -Attitudinal: important,
adjective and can be intensified (very fantastic, wonderful, splendid
Indicates sub-class; can be an adjective Computer technology, fruit
Classifier or a noun trees, native animals

 the trees [in the garden/in

Occurs after the noun-head or Thing and bloom/with yellow leaves]
it further restricts or qualifies the PPhrase Qualifier
Qualifier meaning or scope of meaning of the  the man [[knocking at the
Thing (through a phrase or clause after door]]
it)  the doctor [[appointed head
of staff]] Non-Finite -ing or -
ed participial clauses

 The sequencing of elements in the Ngp

The elements in the NGp have the following relatively fixed sequence. The
relative sequencing of elements with respect to each other also helps
distinguish among them. If a word that is not the head or Thing follows the
Epithet, well, it‟s likely to be another Epithet or a Classifier. The Ea ^ Ed
sequencing is the only one that is not so fixed:

Deictic ^ (Post Deictic) ^ Numerative (Ordinal ^ Cardinal) ^Epithet (attitudinal ^ descriptive)

^ Classifier ^ Head ^ Qualifier

I ate the entire first three delicious hot chocolate muffins [[baked by her mother]]
D PD No Nca Ea Ed Cl Th Q

 Some clarifications:

1. Why Post-Deictic?

The Post-Deictic is a constituent we need to recognize in the NGp because the

Deictic is sometimes followed by an element which is neither a Numerative, nor
an Epithet or Classifier and that stands between the Deictic and one or some of
these other constituents, as in the following example:

“She had the same silly idea that I might be to blame” (Here “same” is
obviously not a Numerative, because it does not express number or quantity,
and it cannot be said to be an Epithet because it is neither describing the idea
nor evaluating it or expressing an attitude to it). So, in cases like these, where
there is a word after the Deictic that does not properly suit the function of the
constituents we have identified, we speak of Post-Deictic.

2. Deictic or Numerative?

The Numeratives indicate quantity or order in very specific terms (I have

basically two problems; He was the first student to hand in the exam) or in non-
specific terms (He has many/several/lots of problems).

Many of the non-specific Numeratives can also be used as Deictic, in which

case they precede other Deictics, usually the definite article and

 Several/Many of the/those people I know will vote the Democratic Party.

Note that the meaning here is partitive (part of a whole) as opposed to

 He has several/many/lots of problems.

where the meaning made is that of non-specific quantity.

 “several/many/lots of/some of” followed by “the/these/those/your/etc.”  Deictics
 “several/many/lots of” not followed by other deictics  Numerative

3. Classifier or Epithet?

Classifiers can be nouns or adjectives (art gallery; native speakers). Since

Epithets are also realized by adjectives, it is sometimes difficult to decide if a
pre-modifying adjective is an Epithet or a Classifier. Some criteria that can help

a. A classifier comes from a finite set of options. There are any number of
qualities which can be assigned to something but a more limited range
of types or sub-sets (Consider excellent, expensive, fine, good, cheap
(wine) as opposed to red, rosé, white wine ).

b. A classifier cannot be intensified or compared (non-gradable), whereas

an Epithet can. We can speak of „a very/more expensive wine‟ but NOT
of „a very/more red wine‟

c. A classifier cannot be paraphrased by an attributive clause or a clause

with “be + SC”, whereas an Epithet can: “a musical/metal instrument” (=
* the instrument is musical/metal) as opposed to “a well-designed
instrument” (= the instrument is well-designed). The first one, non-
paraphrasable by an attribute, is a classifier; the second one,
paraphrasable by an attribute is an Epithet

 Qualifiers

Qualifiers further restrict (qualify) the referent or the Thing of the Ngp.
Grammatically speaking they can be of three kinds:

1. Prepositional Phrase: “The man [in the grey suit]”

2. Finite clause: “The man [[(that) I fell in love with]]”
3. Non-Finite clause, reduced “ed-” or “ing-clause” or clause reduced
from a clause with linking verb, or “Non-Finite to Infinitive clause”
 “The man [[killed yesterday]]”; “The man [[standing at the corner]]”
 “The man [[responsible for the job]]”
 “The man [[to resort to in the event of a catastrophe]] is the janitor.”

Note the use of single brackets for PPhrase Qualifiers and of double brackets for clause-qualifiers

 Qualifiers or Circumstances

Since Qualifiers and Circumstances can both be realized by PPhrases, it could

sometimes be difficult to decide whether a PPhrase following a Noun is to be
interpreted as a Qualifier of that Noun or as a Circumstance to a verb (of time,
place, etc.). A test that can help is trying to move the PP around in the Clause.
If the PP is mobile, this means it is not part of the structure of the NGp but part of
the structure of the Clause and thus a Circumstance.


 I talked to the girl in the red dress. (cannot be moved around; therefore a Qualifier of
 I talked to the girl during the trip (can be moved around (can be placed, e.g., at the
beginning of the Clause = “During the trip I talked to the girl”) and is therefore a
Circumstance of time: duration attendant upon the verb)

In some cases, as in the following, the structure could be ambiguous

 I talk to people on the radio.

“On the radio” could be interpreted as a Circumstance (where from do you talk to people? I
talk to them on the radio) or as a Qualifier (people on the radio as opposed to other people)

In the following context “on the radio” would be interpreted as Circumstance. In this case it
would be mobile in the clause:

 Every day from 8 to 10 a.m. (on the radio) I talk to people (on the radio)

Further examples:

 by his bed in the Bedford Hotel - Circumstance: location: spatial

 like an angry snake - Circumstance: manner: comparison
 [[with the conflict [[between them]] ]] - Qualifier of AdjGp
 [[between them]] - Qualifier of NG
 Through the wall - Circumstance: location: spatial
 for the fifth time that day - Circumstance: extent: temporal
 before and after meals - Circumstance: location: temporal
 in this climate - Circumstance: location: spatial
 like a noise [[in the pipes]] - Circumstance: manner: comparison
 [[in the pipes]] - Qualifier in a NG
 on the edge [[of his bed]] - Circumstance: location: spatial
 [[of his bed]] - Qualifier in NG
 for coolness - Circumstance: cause: purpose
 across the passage - Circumstance: extent: spatial
 into the bathroom - Circumstance: location: spatial
 [[with the turban]] - Qualifier in NG
 on the side [[of the bath]] - Circumstance: location spatial
 [[of the bath]] - Qualifier in a NG

 NGps without Deictic

When analysing NGps we must also take account of groups without Deictic,
usually with a mass noun or with a count noun in the plural as head, that
express non-specific meaning (that is, which refer to all members or instances of
a given class of people, objects or places):

 “I love literature.”
 “Water must be used rationally these days, as it is scarce.”
 “Evidence of another Soviet nuclear catastrophe has been uncovered.”
 “Children of divorced parents often have difficulties at school.”
 “Officials in the Soviet Union refused to talk about the matter.”

 Complex NGps

Complex NGps are NGps with more than one head. They can be of two
different kinds or can combine these two kinds

1- When I won the lottery I bought a new car and a new house.

a new car and a new house (Complex NGp through coordination)

D E Th1 D E Th2

2- the famous entrepreneur, Bill Gates (Complex NGp through Apposition)

D E Th 1 Th2 (Apposition of Th1)

3- The famous entrepreneur and well-known millionaire, Bill Gates (coord.

D E Th1 E Th2 Th3 + App)

 NGp as an extended word revisited

 -journalist
 -the journalist (which one?/point it to me = Deictic + Th)
 -the two journalists (which? how many? D + Numerative + Th)
 -the first two journalists (which? which by order? how many? D + No + Nca + Th)
 -the first two Russian journalists (which? which by order? how many? which by kind
or class (nationality)? D + No + Nca + C + Th)
 the first two Russian journalists [[to speak to people in Chernobyl/that spoke to people
in Chernobyl]] (which? which by order? how many? which by class; the first to do
what? Further specification as Non-Finite/Finite Clause-Qualifier D + No + Nca + C +
Th + Qualifier)

 Nominalization illustrated

Noun Group Noun Group as Nominalization

The new textile factory [[producing Factory production increased with the
sweaters and other woolen clothes]] industrial revolution
has created many new jobs .
She has a new well-paid office job. Her great capacity [[to convince
people ]] got her the job.
My friend drives an automatic car Her utter carelessness in driving has
resulted in many fines.
Many young innocent people are They would return the kidnapped child
kidnapped these days under the condition that a huge
ranson be paid.

 Nominalization defined

A nominalization is a Nominal Group the head of which is a noun derived from

a process (verb), a quality (adjective or adverb) or a logico-semantic
(conjunction, like „if‟ or „because‟)

 How does a nominalization come into being

A nominalization is a clause that has become a NGp (rankshift), a structure in

which one of the constituents of the original clause (a process, quality or logico-
semantic relation) has become a noun (transcategorization) and the other
constituents of the original clause have distributed themselves in the NGP.

 Examples

 Nominalization as non-congruent/non-typical realization


Clause with Process in it The decline of The Roman Empire
led to its destruction by Barbarians.
The Roman Empire declined Noun or Noun group A clause becomes a nominal
and, as a consequence, the group; a verb becomes a noun
Babarians destroyed it
Quality (Adjective) The reliability of these results
makes for the trustworthiness of
These results are reliable and Noun or Noun group the research
this makes the research A clause becomes a nominal
trustworthy group; an adjective becomes a

Logico-semantic relation The cause for his illness is deep

He was ill because he was Noun or Noun group/ Verb (Nominalization: because 
deeply sad. /PP with nominalization as cause)
His illness was caused by deep
(Not nominalization but non-
congruent realization)

He was ill out of/due to/owing to

(Nominalization within PP)

 Nominalization of complex VGps


Process (Complex verb group) Noun or Noun group -His attempt/his efforts/his
struggle [[to help]] allowed him to
He strove/tried/ struggled to (The noun-head does not need save his country.
help and finally saved his to have the same root as the
country. process it replaces in the NGP. -His success in [[passing the exam]]
Semantic approach) determined the obtention of his
He succeeded in passing the degree.
exam and got his degree.
He intended to help us and he -His intention [[to help us]] was
did. finally realized.

 Nominalization of modals


Modals There is the possibility [[that he
might get angry and punch you in
He might get angry and punch the face ] ]
you in the face..
His (in)ability [[to resolve difficult
He can(not) resolve difficult Noun, Ngp situations] ] prevents him from
situations and go on with his going on with his life.
One is under the obligation [[to
One must help one’s parents help one’s parents] and care after
and care after them. them.]

 Nominalization of existential clauses


Existential clauses

There is life on other planets as Noun, Ngp The existence of life on other
several studies demonstrate/ planets is demonstrated by several
Life exists on other planets as studies.
several studies demonstrate.

 Nominalization for Verbal processes


Verbal processes

He didn’t state/say anything He didn`t make any statement

about the recently announced Noun, NGp (with PP Qualifier about the recently announced
policy. specifying matter, introduced policy
by “about”, “on”, or with
He answered that he could not embedded projected “that“ His answer/ response (to us) was
possibly know. OR “I can’t clause: The projected [[that he could not possibly know]]
possibly know” dependent clause becomes
an embedded clause of His demand [[that we (should) pay
He demanded that we pay for projection in the for our own education]] was hard
our own education. OR “Pay for nominalization) and insensitive.
your own education”, he
demanded., which was hard
and insensitive.

 Nominalization for Mental processes


Mental processes
His thoughts about/upon / with
He thought that they should respect to this matter were that
resign.… Noun, NGp (with PP Qualifier they should resign.
specifying matter, introduced
He understood the problem and by “about”, “of”, “upon”, or His understanding of the problem
could solve it. with embedded projected made it possible to solve it.
“that” clause)
He believes that success His belief [[that success depends on
depends on hard work and lives hard work]] is reflected in how he
by that principle. behaves. .

 Characterization of nominalization

Nominalization is a more condensed, distilled way of expressing certain

meanings. This distillation makes it

 More abstract
 More impersonal and objective (as people doing actions or
experiencing a process are removed/ left aside in the process of
 More difficult to wield than the more congruent resources of the
language (this is why nominalization emerges late in the linguistic
evolution and in the life of a person).

Given its properties, nominalization is more a feature of written than of spoken


 Spoken discourse is characterized by a higher proportion of clauses with

their participants, processes and circumstances, which makes it more
grammatically complex;
 Written (Journalistic, Academic, Scientific) discourse is characterized by
a higher frequency of nominalization, which makes it more lexically