Within each sentence as an immediate speech element of the communication process, definite standard syntactic-semantic features are revealed which make up a typical model, a generalised pattern repeated in an indefinite number of actual utterances.
This complicated predicative pattern does enter the system of language. It exists on its own level in the hierarchy of lingual segmental units in the capacity of a "linguistic sentence" and as such is studied by grammatical theory,
Thus, the sentence is characterised by its specific category of predication which establishes the relation of the named phenomena to actual life. The general semantic category of modality is also defined by linguists as exposing the connection between the named objects and surrounding reality. However, modality, as different from predication, is not specifically confined to the sentence; this is a broader category revealed both in the grammatical elements of language and its lexical, purely nominative elements. In this sense, every word expressing a definite correlation between the named substance and objective reality should be recognised as modal. Here belong such lexemes of full notional standing as "probability", "desirability", "necessity" and the like, together with all the derivationally relevant words making up the corresponding series of the lexical paradigm of nomination; here belong semi-functional words and phrases of probability and existential evaluation, such as perhaps, may be, by all means, etc.; here belong further, word-particles of specifying modal semantics, such as just, even, would-be, etc.; here belong, finally, modal verbs expressing a broad range of modal meanings which are actually turned into elements of predicative semantics in concrete, contextually-bound utterances.
As for predication proper, it embodies not any kind of modality, but only syntactic modality as the fundamental distinguishing feature of the sentence. It is the feature of predication, fully and explicitly expressed by a contextually relevant grammatical complex, that identifies the sentence in distinction to any other combination of words having a situational referent.
The centre of predication in a sentence of verbal type (which is the predominant type of sentence-structure in English) is a finite verb. The finite verb expresses essential predicative meanings by its categorial forms, first of all, the categories of tense and mood (the category of person, as we have seen before, reflects the corresponding category of the subject). However, proceeding from the principles of sentence analysis worked out in the Russian school of theoretical syntax, in particular, in the classical treatises of V.V. Vinogradov, we insist that predication is effected not only by the forms of the finite verb connecting it with the subject, but also by all the other forms and elements of the sentence establishing the connection between the named objects and reality, including such means of expression as intonation, word order, different functional words. Besides the purely verbal categories, in the predicative semantics are included such syntactic sentence meanings as purposes of communication (declaration interrogation inducement), modal probability, affirmation and negation, and others, which, taken together, provide for the sentence to be identified on its own, proposemic level of lingual hierarchy.
From what has been said about the category of predication, we see quite clearly that the general semantic content of the sentence is not at all reduced to predicative meanings only. Indeed, in order to establish the connection between some substance and reality, it is first necessary to name the substance itself. This latter task is effected in the sentence with the help of its nominative means. Hence, the sentence as a lingual unit performs not one, but two essential signemic (meaningful) functions: first, substance-naming, or nominative function; second, reality-evaluating, or predicative function.
The terminological definition of the sentence as a predicative unit gives prominence to the main feature distinguishing the sentence from the word among the meaningful lingual units (signernes). However, since every predication is effected upon a certain nomination as its material semantic base, we gain a more profound insight into the difference between the sentence and the word by pointing out the two-aspective meaningful nature of the sentence. The semantics of the sentence presents a unity of its nominative and predicative aspects, while the semantics of the word, in this sense, is monoaspective.
Some linguists do not accept the definition of the sentence through predication, considering it to contain tautology, since, allegedly, it equates the sentence with predication ("the sentence is predication, predication is the sentence"). However, the identification of the two aspects of the sentence pointed out above shows that this negative attitude is wholly unjustified; the real content of the predicative interpretation of the sentence has nothing to do with definitions of the "vicious circle" type. In point of fact» as follows from the given exposition of predication, predicative meanings do not exhaust the semantics of the sentence; on the contrary, they presuppose the presence in the sentence of meanings of quite another nature, which form its deeper nominative basis. Predicative functions work upon this deep nominative basis, and as a result the actual utterance-sentence is finally produced.
1. SYNTAGMATIC CONNECTIONS OF WORDS.
2. SENTENCE: GENERAL.
3. ACTUAL DIVISION OF THE SENTENCE.
Predication is defined as creation of predicative connection between the members of the sentence.
1. SYNTAGMATIC CONNECTIONS OF WORDS.
The predicative connection of words, uniting the subject and the predicate, builds up the basis of the sentence. The reciprocal nature of this connection consists in the fact that the subject dominates the predicate determining the person of predication, while the predicate dominates the subject, determining the event of predication, i. e. ascribing to the predicative person some action, or state, or quality. This difference in meaning between the elements of predication, underlying the mutually opposite directions of domination, explains the seeming paradox of the notion of reciprocal domination, exposing its dialectic essence. Both directions of domination in a predicative group can be demonstrated by a formal test.
The domination of the subject over the predicate is exposed by the reflective character of the verbal category of person and also the verbal category of number which is closely connected with the former.
The English grammatical forms of explicit subject-verb agreement (concord) are very scarce (the inflexion marking the Third person singular present, and some special forms of the verb be). Still, these scarce forms are dynamically correlated with the other, grammatically non-agreed forms. Cf.: he went he goes I went I go.
But apart from the grammatical forms of agreement, the predicative person is directly reflected upon the verb-predicate as such; the very semantics of the person determines the subject reference of the predicative event (action, state, quality). Thus, the subject unconditionally dominates over the predicate by its specific substantive categories in both agreed, and non-agreed forms of predicative connection.
As for the predicate dominating the subject in its own sphere of grammatical functions, this fact is clearly demonstrated by the correlation of the sentence and the corresponding noun-phrase. Namely, the transformation of the sentence into the noun-phrase places the predicate in the position of the head-word, and the subject, in the position of the adjunct. Cf.: The train arrived. → The arrival of the train.
Alongside of fully predicative groupings of the subject and the finite verb-predicate, there exist in language partially predicative groupings formed by a combination of a non-finite verbal form (verbid) with a substantive element. Such are infinitival, gerundial, and participial constructions.
The predicative person is expressed in the infinitival construction by the prepositional for-phrase, in the gerundial construction by the possessive or objective form of the substantive, in the participial construction by the nominative (common) form of the substantive. Cf.: The pupil understands his mistake » for the pupil to understand his mistake » the pupil('s) understanding his mistake the pupil understanding his mistake.
In the cited semi-predicative (or potentially-predicative) combinations the "event"-expressing element is devoid of the formal agreement with the "person"-expressing element, but the two directions of domination remain valid by virtue of the very predicative nature of the syntactic connection in question (although presented in an incomplete form).
Thus, among the syntagmatic connections of the reciprocal domination the two basic subtypes are distinguished: first, complete predicative connections, second, incomplete predicative connections (semi-predicative, potentially-predicative connections).
Different completive noun combinations are distinguished by a feature that makes them into quite special units on the phrasemic level of language. Namely, in distinction to all the other combinations' of words they are directly related to whole sentences, i. e. predicative combinations of words. This fact was illustrated above when we described the verbal domination over the subject in a predicative grouping of words.
Compare some more examples given in the reverse order:
The arrival of the train → The train arrived. The baked potatoes → The potatoes are baked. The gifted pupil → The pupil has a gift.
Completive combinations of adjectives and adverbs (adjective-phrases and adverb-phrases), as different from noun combinations (noun-phrases), are related to predicative constructions but indirectly, through the intermediary stage of the corresponding noun-phrase. Cf.: utterly neglected utter neglect The neglect is utter; very carefully great carefulness The carefulness is great; speechlessly reproachful speechless reproach The reproach is speechless.
These distinctions of completive word combinations are very important to understand for analysing paradigmatic relations in syntax.