Variations of Syntax Trees


Variations of Glossary Link Syntax Trees

There is a lot more to a syntax tree than meets the eye.  Different professors may focus on different aspects of tree structures depending on the amount of class time devoted to the Glossary Link subject and the level of analysis.  Most introduction classes do not discuss X bar theory .  Accordingly the syntax trees in this section are written as the simplest structures which are most commonly seen in text books.  However, in the Glossary Link case that your professor draws trees with more detail, here are some of the variations you may see.

Variations on an NP

The most basic NP does not display a detailed structure of the phrase. 


             /      \                              

        Det        N                      

       the         boy                                                                     

In (1) we do not see the possibility of adding anything to the N boy.  However, if N becomes NP we create another NP which will dominate the Glossary Link adjective and Glossary Link head Glossary Link noun yet still maintains the sister relationship between the Det and N. 


            /      \                                            

        Det      NP                                    

       the     /     \                                   

               Adj     N                                                

             little   boy                                                                             

This structure also gives us the possibility of adding an adjunct such as the PP down the street. We maintain the relationship of sisterhood between the Det and the NP, the relationship of sisterhood between the Adj and N, plus we have added a PP which modifies the entire NP and is adjoined as an adjunct.


           /       \                                             

        Det         NP                                    

       the      /            \

                NP               PP

             /     \           /        \                                                  

          Adj     N       P          NP                           

        little      |   down    /       \

                     boy           Det      N         

                                    the       street

In (4) we have now added the possibility of expanding our AdjP in the event that we want to modify it with an Glossary Link adverb, i.e., very little.

(4) NP

   /       \

Det      NP

the    /       \

     AdjP        N

     /      \      boy

 Adv     Adj    

 very    little  

Now we have a sister relationship between the Glossary Link adjective phrase which modifies the noun, as well as between the adverb very which modifies the adjective little.

Variations on a VP

Glossary Link Verb phrases are a little more tricky in that it is necessary to understand the relationship the VP has to its NP complements and adjuncts.   Keep in mind that there are three types of verbs: transitive, intransitive, and ditransitive. 

Transitive verbs require an NP Glossary Link direct object Glossary Link complement.                         (5) VP

                                                                                                              /     \

                                                                                                            V       N (NP)

                                                                                                           call    Martha

The VP tree must show the sister relationship between V and N (NP).

Intransitive verbs will never have a direct object.   They will look like this:          (6)    VP
                                                                                                                             |                                                                                                                                                                V


Ditransitive verbs either require or are most commonly accompanied by two objects, one direct and one indirect.  The relationship of the direct object to the verb is the same as (5).  Indirect objects can be attached to the V along with the NP (ternary branching).                      

(7)      VP

                                                                                                  /        |        \

                                                                                             V           NP         PP

                                                                                            give      money    to the poor

This shows that the verb requires a sister relationship with both objects.

Sometimes the indirect object is optional. 

(8)                   VP

                   /          \ 

               VP                 PP 

           /        \            /        \

         V          NP      P         NP

       wrote    /     \    to        her

               Det       N

                a       letter 

In (8) the PP is adjoined to the VP thus modifying the entire verb phrase wrote a letter.   The NP is still attached to the V as a sister.

Lastly, it is important of understand the nature of auxiliary and modal verbs ( Glossary Link aux). 

The simplest trees show aux tucked in between NP and VP.

(9)       S

       / aux \

   NP          VP

For the formation of yes/no questions, aux will move above the S, forming a new S.

(10)      S

         /       \

      aux        S

                /   |   \

            NP          VP

Another common, more detailed structure of aux is seen in (11).   Here aux is placed in the specifier position of VP which allows recursivity (repetition) of aux in the case that there are several auxiliary or modal verbs.

(11)    VP

        /        \

  aux          VP

 may      /        \

          aux       VP

        have    /        \

                aux        VP

               been     /     \

                            V       NP

                      calling    Mary

Regardless of how detailed your trees may be, it is important to understand the difference between Glossary Link sisters (complements) and adjuncts and how they are adjoined to the phrases they modify.