last changed in 2002
As explained in complement, the function `complement' has to be further subdivided when applied to the complements of verbs because verbs allow more than one complement, each of which is controlled by a different set of rules. The following list covers most possibilities, but it has serious weaknesses which suggest that further research will be able to improve it.One hurdle that has to be crossed before we can improve it, however, is the problem of understanding exactly what distinguishes complements (and other valents) from adjuncts (see adjunct).
Each of the complement-types has its own entry, where further details can be found. In each of the example sentences, the underlined word has the function in question.
o: object or direct object (They like you.)
i: indirect object (They lent you a book.)
p: prepositional (They rely on you.)
e: particle (They picked it up.)
r: sharer (They seem happy.)
f: free complement (They put it there.)
n: negative (I have not seen it.)
These complements differ on two dimensions.
The table below shows how the seven complement types are related on these two dimensions:
|grammatical function||formal restrictions on complement||semantic type|
|object||o||varies with verb||[any]||[any] or THAT||yes||no|
|prepositional complement||p||preposition||maybe||some lexeme||yes||no|
|sharer||r||varies with verb||[any]||[any]||no||yes|
|free complement||f||[any]||[any]||[any]||yes or||yes|
The table shows how these dimensions cut across each other in a way which is obscured by our simple list of six functions. A more satisfactory analysis might replace these functions by a shorter list which can combine with each other, as suggested by And Rosta; but the details remain to be worked out so for the time being we have to make do with the longer list.
This is an article from the Encyclopedia of Word Grammar and English grammar. If you refer to it, please give the url as "http://tinyurl.com/wg-encyc".