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Practising Syntax

Class at Faculty of Arts |


Verbal idioms (Šaldová)

An enquiry into the syntax and the semantics of verbal idioms containing an NP and transitive prepositions and their ability to occur in the passive and with modifiers (*The secretary was lost patience with.), idioms of verbs + adjective (come true), Co of result (he drank himself silly), copular (light) verbs with eventive objects (He had a lie down).

Verb complementation - prepositions (Šaldová)

A survey of special combinations of verb + preposition and related types of complementation, and syntactic constraints on mobile vs. fixed prepositions (It was to her book that I referred. x *It was across these letters that I came.). Using gap-filling, transformation and translation exercises we shall practise these combinations in terms of their syntactic behaviour.

Verb complementation -ing forms and infinitives (Br?hová)

Syntactic and lexical description of the complementation by the two nonfinite verb forms.

Adjective patterns (Malá)

Categories of complementation in adjective phrases are similar in variety to those of verb complementation. They include complementation by a prepositional phrase, by a that- or wh-clause, by a non-finite to-infinitive or -ing participle clause. Using gap-filling, transformation and translation exercises we shall try to classify adjectives into several complementation types, noting also multiple class membership and exceptional cases.

Verbs with multiple patterns of complementation -ditransitive verbs (Br?hová)

A survey of verbs with multiple patterns of complementation (I gave her the key x the key to her. I envied him his freedom x him for his freedom, etc.). We will focus on the syntactic possibilities of these verbs in terms of verb order and the corresponding prepositions.

Word order - Adverb(ial) placement, negation (Šaldová)

An overview of the word-order principles concerning the adverbial elements and negation.

There and it subjects (Malá)

We shall be concerned firstly with existential and existential-locative sentences (both bare and extended), and secondly with various clauses with it subjects. We hope that transformation exercises will reveal the variation in the verb phrase and the properties of the notional subject in the simple existential sentence as well as the various types of the there construction extensions (locative, temporal, predicative, infinitival, participial). Translation practice will point to some of the reasons why the there and it subjects are used. Time permitting, we may also discuss other 'special' subjects (quantifiers and problems of concord, expressing the 'general human agent').

Phrasal verbs, collocations of make and do (Br?hová)

Practising syntactic and lexical aspects of multiword verb combinations and collocations.

Comparative constructions (Šaldová)

A survey of comparative constructions, with focus on recognizing and mastering the respective syntactic structures.

Irregular sentences and nonsentences (Malá)

Focusing on informal spoken English, we shall explore the structure and discourse functions of sentences which deviate formally form the standard sentence types. An attempt at a classification of the various irregular sentences and 'nonsentences' will be made. Apart form individual examples, we shall analyse segments of texts of contemporary British plays (A. Ayckbourn).

Subordinate clauses (Šaldová)

A survey of the types of finite subordinate clauses, their syntactic properties and relation to other means of expression.

Punctuation (Šaldová)

A survey of the main principles governing the use of punctuation marks in English.


A practical seminar dealing with selected topics in English syntax (see syllabus). Following a brief introduction each topic is practised in various types of exercises, including translation.