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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.

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