Word combinations with the head element 

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Head elements are usually used only for identifying a part of a document, as in the case of metadata. However, head elements can also be used to identify sections of a document. For example, a section of a document may have a title or may have a header that identifies the topic of the section.


Classification of word combinations
Word combinations without headings

Word combinations with a main element are represented by word groups that form a grammatically organized structure in which one element is subordinate to another. The subordinate element is called the head of the word combination. In the following examples, the header elements are underlined: green leaves, type a letter, smile happily, very simple.

As we can see, the relations in headword combinations are based on subordination and can be represented by all types of subordination relations, i.e. attributive, objective, adverbial and existential. The dependent element(s) makes its syntactic status explicit at the collocation level, while the head does not reveal its syntactic function at this level. This is an element of differentiation of the head. In other words: The head of subordinate structures (main structures) is an element whose syntactic function within the respective structure is not recognizable. For example, in the sentence quite simple, the simple adjective is a leading adjective because its syntactic function cannot be determined at the level of this particular structure.

The adverb rather is a dependent element, so its syntactic function is determined in this word combination, namely as an adverbial modifier of degree. When lying down the head is moved: see the fairly simple tasks. In this collocation, the functions of two elements are explicit – the adverb enough (adverbial modifier of degree) and the adjective simple (attribute); the function of the noun remains undefined in the collocation, which gives us reason to consider this element as a head. Another extension of the word combination shifts the head again: in to give quite simple tasks, the infinitive to give functions as the head, while the noun tasks is used as the direct object.

By considering the mutual arrangement of main and dependent elements in the main word combination, we can distinguish between regressive and progressive word combinations. Let’s take a closer look at this breakdown.

Regressive word combinations with adverbial predicate

This type of word combination is structurally the most homogeneous, because the dependent element can be represented by a single morphological class – adverbial intensifications. The most typical representatives of these word combinations are constructions like very sweet, rather unexpected, rather light, extremely angry, rather obvious.

Some adverbs cannot form a construction with intensifiers. These are mainly qualitative adverbs and adverbs that indicate temporal properties (e.g., sudden). Regressive word combinations with an adverb can also be adverbs of place – far, further north. Other types of spatial adverbs, as well as temporal adverbs, cannot normally be combined with a subordinate element.

In most cases, regressive groups with an adverb are represented by two-part structures, although three-part constructions are also possible: so easy, almost too late, much too long.

Although adverbial compositions with head tend to go backwards, there is a dependent element, namely the adverb enough, which always follows head. This results in the formation of a progressive word combination: I can do it pretty quickly.

Regressive word combinations with an attributive head

Word combinations derived from an adjective can be either regressive or progressive. Regressive word combinations with a leading adjective are very similar to adverbial structures and usually contain two members. The dependent elements in these constructions can be expressed by intensifiers or by adverbs: very sweet, very unexpected, very simple, very angry, very clear.

In addition to intensifiers and other adverbs, dependent elements can also be expressed by nouns: cheap, icy, kneeling, tired dog.

As in adverbial groups, the adverb enough is to the right of the head in adjectival structures: professional enough.

This type should include combinations of words with participles and state words: extremely scared, all alone.

Regressive adjective groups, like adverbial word compositions, are characterized by the left position of the dependent element in relation to the head.

We find cases where a regressive adverbial group is combined with a regressive adjectival group, creating mixed constructions with a two-level hierarchical structure: very happy, almost too polite.

Regressive word combinations with the head noun

Noun combinations can have both regressive and progressive positions of the dependent elements, making them similar to adjectival constructions.

Regressive word combinations with a nominative head may differ in the number and morphological properties of the link-dependent elements. If there is only one dependent element, the possibilities of morphological expression are also quite numerous. This position is usually occupied by possessive pronouns (my house, her parents), demonstrative pronouns (this restaurant, these actors), adjectives (white roses, happy day), participles (lost generation, falling leaf). It is impossible not to mention the group of adjectives that can only function in the preposition, i.e. as left-dependent elements: a trifle, total fear, sheer nonsense.

The left dependent elements in the considered word combinations are often occupied by nouns: World War II, electricity, cigarette smoke, family reunions. The name can also be formed with the s form: Frank’s invitation, Cynthia’s opinion, toys for the boys. The left position may be occupied by numbers, both cardinal and ordinal: five pounds, first love.

When there are multiple dependent elements in noun combinations, the dependent elements are usually morphologically distinct: my own decision, these hot summer days, the sole occupant of the upstairs.

Although the infinitive or finite verb forms are not traditionally mentioned as possible expressions of prepositional characteristics, there are some examples of their use in modern English, for example. B. his collection of cars to die for, his I’m going to treat you like an adult discussions, a dog-eat-dog world, etc.

One of the most controversial issues related to the structure of regressive noun groups is the order of prepositional adjectives, especially when multiple adjectives are involved. This issue has been addressed in many studies, but scientists have come to opposite conclusions.

Practical grammarians generally recommend the following order, based on the semantic classes of adjectives. The scheme looks like this: personal assessment – size – age – shape – colour – origin – material (for example, a beautiful small round medieval table in black Italian wood).

Let’s move on to progressive keyword combinations. It should be noted that regressive and progressive word combinations consist mainly of nouns and leading adjectives. Nevertheless, the verb can also acquire this capacity. This can be seen in word combinations with adverbs.

As for noun combinations with right-handed dependent elements, these are characterized by a different morphological status of the dependent components than word combinations with left-handed expansion. Nouns that act as progressive group heads are usually combined with prepositions: State of the art, book in question, food for thought. Nouns in prepositional groups can be possessive: a friend of John.

In addition to prepositional phrases, the function of dependent elements in progressive word combinations can also be performed by adverbials: for example. B. the man who delivered the goods; the story he could never forget or

I can’t change the sequence of events after that fateful trip. (Parks)

I liked the places you chose. (Parks)

The emotion he felt, he hadn’t felt in a long time. (Brown) Although postpositional attributes expressed by isolated adjectives are rare in English, such structures exist, for example. B. Paradise Lost (used as title), lyrics not spoken. This word order is particularly characteristic of word combinations with heads other than names: something strange, someone familiar.

Isolated adverbs of place and time are used quite often as attributes in postposition of a noun: the man upstairs, the way back, a year later, the next dinner. This position is also characteristic of isolated non-final forms: an offer to be considered, a study conducted in a particular field, articles reporting on an event.

It should be noted that noun-word combinations can have a complex structure in which the noun not only subordinates certain parts of speech, but also prepositional groups, non-terminal forms, and predicative units: Reader.

However, the most typical feature of this type of word combination is the preposition of, which can have very different meanings. Thus, if a noun denotes an action, the preposition of a subject or a suffering object relation may denote it. For example, punishing a criminal means that someone has punished the criminal. Therefore, there is an object relation between the modifier and the modified noun, because the modifier designates the object of the action expressed by the modified noun punishment. In contrast, the expression perpetrator flees reflects a different relationship between the modifier and the modifiable, since the performer of the action expressed by the noun flee is expressed by the noun perpetrator. This word combination can be transformed into a predicative construction The Escaped Criminal, showing the subjective relationship between the head and the attribute.

In regressive and progressive noun-word combinations, dependent elements are traditionally defined as attributes, regardless of the meaning conveyed. Although there is a tendency to distinguish between attributes and objects in these constructions, this approach has not received much support. Therefore, elements that are subordinate to names are treated as attributes.

Progressive word combinations adjective

Unlike noun phrases, where all dependent elements have the syntactic status of attributes, the syntactic relations in adjectival constructions depend on the position of the dependent element with respect to the main element. In the case of the adjective head, all left-dependent elements are classified as adverbial modifiers of degree, while all right-dependent elements (with the exception of the adverb enough, which is also interpreted as an adverbial modifier) are treated as objects. The adjective is usually the head of preposition-object constructions, for example. B. resourceful, hopeful, music loving, approachable to strangers.

Adjectives are rarely followed by a dependent element without a preposition, e.g., “I’m not going to use a preposition. B. However, the object function is often fulfilled by the infinitive: interesting to look at, pleasant to approve of, difficult to understand. This interpretation of the infinitive is confirmed by the substitution. The substitution proves that the infinitive can be replaced by a substantive word of the type wh, which indicates the substantive character of the element to be replaced: what for/to what.

Progressive word combinations with verb head

The progressive word constructions are numerous and varied. They are generally divided into three main types: 1) object-related, 2) adverbial, and 3) existential.

The object subgroup is based on the two relationships that exist between a verb and an object: with and without a preposition. Constructions without prepositions contain transitive and non-transitive verbs that can be used with so-called homogeneous objects: live a miserable life, smile happily, die a violent death, smile wryly, etc.

Word-verb combinations with transitive verbs are formed from verbs with different meanings. These are verbs denoting certain physical actions (closing the door, wrapping the cake, pouring water), verbs of perception (seeing a picture, hearing voices), verbs of mental state (needing attention, forgetting a sentence). This group also includes verbs like say, answer, tell, whisper.

The structures of prepositional verbs can be illustrated using the phrases laugh at the joke, disagree with the suggestion, etc. As we can see, prepositional phrases and nonprepositional combinations can contain dependent elements with different morphological status: both nouns and non-terminal forms, e.g., “nouns” and “non-terminal forms”. B. argues hatred, starts smoking, suggests coming back, insists on refund, speculates on what he would have done.

Intransitive verbs cannot be combined with any object other than homonyms, but these verbs are usually combined with different kinds of adverbial modifiers: give hand, drive slowly, come on time, drive north. Here the dependent element can be expressed not only by an adverb (although this is often the case), but also by a prepositional phrase, non-end forms or predicative units: go to Edinburgh, stay two days, turn up to help, go somewhere else, Jack wanted to talk to you before he left home.

The existential keyword combinations are based on existential relations, form only progressive structures and are represented by a very limited number of morphological variants. The only morphological type of the head of these word combinations may be a linking verb (copula), the dependent element may belong to different word types, the most typical of which is an adjective: to be happy, to appear happy, to remain calm, to appear surprised, to become happy.

When a linking verb is used in the final form, the whole word combination performs the function of a compound nominal predicate. Non-terminating verb forms in existential collocations indicate that they can function as any part of a sentence that is not a proverb: Staying brave in the face of danger is nearly impossible; turning into an old woman remains the scariest thing in the world for Claire.

Progressive word combinations with a prepositioned head

Progressive constructions of the prepositional head require special theoretical reasoning. Traditionally, the preposition is given the status of a function word. So the question is whether a prepositional phrase can act as the head of a prepositional phrase. Nevertheless, the claim that prepositional phrase combinations exist is supported by the fact that the preposition is able to control the following element: The control indicates the subordination relationship within the word combination and helps in determining the head, as it is the control element that dominates the given word combination. Although in English subordination is specific only to personal pronouns, it is theoretically sufficient to demonstrate the main status of the preposition. In some cases, the form of the element following the preposition remains unchanged. This phenomenon is due to the fact that English nouns have lost their accusative form.

Recently, the interpretation of the lexical meaning expressed by the preposition has been reconsidered. Some linguists believe that prepositions have a lexical meaning, which has led to a different interpretation of this part of speech. If we consider the preposition as a word with its own semantic content and an extra-linguistic reference, as a word that, when included in a sentence, can contribute to the information expressed, then the preposition cannot be understood as an element connecting lexical words, or as the equivalent of case endings or other morphological connecting elements. Therefore, the preposition is assumed to have two functions in syntactically organized groups: On the one hand, it is an element with its own lexical meaning, used together with other elements to express certain information; on the other hand, the preposition links these other elements. The functions of the preposition have much in common with those of the verbs in the subjunctive: They are also used to indicate the connection between the subject and the proverb, and to convey a certain semantic message: cf. His hair is grey and his hair is turning grey. The assertion that the preposition has a lexical meaning leads to the following conclusion: The preposition is not a formal word used to connect two lexical words. It carries a meaning of its own and can be linked to other words in various syntactic relationships, including government: looking at her, relying on her.

This source has been very much helpful in doing our research. Read more about what is the order of development of different sentence types? and let us know what you think.


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