Sep08 –  A Constructed Language

Sep08 Phrase and Clause Syntax

Legend: Definitions, Terms, <Text>, [IPA], -Tags-, and "Glosses".


The syntactical word classes are verb, quantity word, noun, pronoun, adverb, determiner, conjunction, postposition, and particle.

A verb phrase consists of a verb form of finite, imperative, or participial type.

Nominal Phrases

A nominal phrase is either a simple phrase or a compound phrase. A simple phrase is either a pronoun or a noun phrase. A noun phrase consists of a possibly null determiner, any number of participles, a required noun, and a possibly null quantity word, in that order. Note that a quantity word can appear only if the noun is singular. A genitive case nominal phrase may appear in place of the determiner and a relative clause may precede the entire noun phrase construction. Genitive phrases have both possessive and non-possessive uses.

Note that partitive and superlative constructions are noun phrases.

Nominal Phrase Examples

in shakhrik pradik
in shakhre-ik pradi-k
Ind hungry-CoS cat-analogue-P
"some hungry cat-analogues"

los hobano hanjus yami
los hoban-o hanju-s yam-i
D2 pretty-CoO house-E "6"-Num
"those 6 pretty houses"

shiniso rilee
shinis-o ril-ee
hot-CoO water-LNR
"hot water" (location)

Partitive and Superlative Phrases

A partitive phrase represents a subset of some whole. It consists of a nominalized quantity word denoting the cardinality of the subset preceded by a genitive phrase denoting the whole.

ek silaqko nazaszo
ek silaq-ko nazo-as-zo
D3 woman-PGen many-A-PErg
"many of the women" (plural ergative)

A superlative phrase represents a subset of some whole selected according to some scale of comparison. It consists of a superlative noun specifying the scale and direction of comparison and a genitive phrase denoting the whole. It may also contain a quantity word specifying the cardinality of the subset and/or an ordinal number following the noun (used in such phrases as "the 2nd oldest of us").

Compound Phrases

A compound phrase is a sequence of simple phrases separated by instances of one of the phrase conjunctions, which are shown in the following table:

Phrase Conjunctions
Word Tag Description
- Agg Aggregative
- Alt Alternative


A clause always contains a verb phrase. The kind of clause limits the type of verb used. The clause may also contain nominal phrases for the arguments of the verb as well as postpositional phrases and adverbial constituents of various types. Each of these constituents precedes the verb except when focused; in that case, the focused constituent follows the verb.

A vocative case nominal phrase, identifying the addressee(s), may be inserted before or after any constituent.

Argument Phrases

A clause may have 1 instrumental argument, 1 locational argument, and 2 everything else arguments. The 1st everything else argument phrase to appear is the object and the 2nd everything else argument phrase is the subject. Instrumental and locational argument phrases can appear in any order.

If the verb's type is participial, 1 of the arguments, as specified by the verb's coreferential marker, is relativized and doesn't appear within the clause. If the type is imperative, the most agentive argument is marked on the verb and also doesn't appear as a phrase.

An argument may be omitted. If an everything else argument is omitted and the verb allows both, the verb's argument structure class (and the inversion marking, if the verb is finite) determines whether this is the subject or the object. This complication doesn't affect instrumental and locational arguments.

hobano vor guma shakhrik pradi konchot.
hoban-o vor gu-ma shakhre-ik pradi konch-ot
pretty-CoO fish 2-SGen hungry-CoS cat eat-Pro
"The hungry cat is going to eat the pretty fish."

Postpositional Phrases

A postpositional phrase consists of a nominal phrase in the locative case followed by a postposition. There are only a few postpositions, such as Cpr ("compare"). Postpositional phrases appear before any argument phrases with the phrase most relevent to the postposition appearing immediately after the postposition (unless the argument is focused or marked on the verb).

Adverbial Constituents

An adverb is either a particle, an adverb of manner, or an adverbial phrase.

An adverb of manner consists of a scalar verb placed immediately after the matrix verb.

Adverbial phrases are used for specifying scalar precision, duration, the number of iterations or occasions, and the time when the situation occurs. Except for time when phrases (which are treated along with tense in the Temporal Syntax and Lexicon chapter), no determiner is used.

In a number of iterations phrase, the adverbial iteration noun Itr is used. In a number of occasions phrase, the adverbial occasion noun Occ is used. These usually don't occur with singular quantities.

A duration phrase consists of a quantity word and a time-unit noun. If the quantity is omitted, "1" is assumed. Duration phrases are equivalent to scalar precision phrases accompanying absolute positive constructions where the scalar verb denotes duration. The uses of scalar precision phrases are given in the scalar section.

Relative Clauses

There are 2 kinds of relative clauses: participial and correlative. Each of these appears immediately before the modified nominal phrase. A participial clause is a clause whose verb phrase is participial while a correlative clause has a finite verb phrase.

tok hobano vor konchiik de pradi shakhre.
tok hoban-o vor konch-i-ik de pradi shakhre
D3Pst pretty-CoO fish eat-Cul-CoS D0 cat hungry
"The cat that ate the pretty fish was hungry."

There are 2 major varieties of correlative clauses. In one, the modified phrase appears within the relative clause and contains the relative determiner Rel; the correlative pronoun Cor appears within the matrix clause, with gender and case according to its use within the matrix clause. In the other, the modified phrase appears within the matrix clause and contains the correlative determiner Cor; the relative pronoun Rel appears in the relative clause, with gender and case according to its use within the relative clause.

page started: 2018.Sep.20 Thu
current date: 2018.Sep.21 Fri
content and form originated by qiihoskeh

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