Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum, A STUDENT'S INTRODUCTION TO ENGLISH GRAMMAR (Cambridge University Press, 2005)


1. For each of the following adjectives, decide whether it can be used in attributive function, whether it can be used in predicative function, and whether it can be used in postpositive function. Give your evidence in detail.

Example: key
Answer: attributivethe key factor
  predicativeThis is key to the success of the project. (Note: This represents a relative recent usage: key was formerly an attributive-only adjective.)
  postpositiveKey cannot be used on its own in postpositive function: *the factor key. It is, however, marginally acceptable if it has its own complement: ?The factor key to the success of the project was our access to superior technology).

2. Classify the underlined words below as adjectives or nouns, justifying your answer by reference to the criteria given in Chs. 5 and 6.

Example: She's a thorough professional.
Answer: In this use, professional is clearly a noun. It takes determiners such as a; it takes adjectives rather than adverbs as modifier (cf. thorough), and it has a plural counterpart (They are thorough professionals). In Her conduct was thoroughly professional, by contrast, professional is an adjective.

Example: There's an obvious flaw in the proposal.
Answer: Obvious is an adjective. It can be used both attributively (as here) and predicatively (Their intentions were obvious). It takes adverbs rather than adjectives as modifier: a highly obvious flaw, not *a high obvious flaw. It doesn't take determiners, such as a or some: *He has an obvious. One complication is that it is found in the special fused-head construction, as in He has a tendency to state the obvious; note that in this construction it still takes adverbs as modifier (the highly obvious, not *the high obvious), doesn't have a plural form (*the obviouses), and doesn't accept other determiners than the (*He stated an obvious).

3. [This exercise asks you to figure out what the change is that has occurred in the dialects of many younger-generation speakers who say It was so fun, It was the funnest thing I ever did, and so on. We can't give an example of how to answer this. We will just point out that it is very simple, and the best thing would be to give not just a short answer but a detailed description of what the evidence shows about the change that has occurred.]

4. Which of the underlined words below are adjectives, which are verbs, and which are ambiguous between the two categories in the examples given? Give evidence for your answers.

Example: The dog is barking again.
Answer: Barking is a verb. It has a corresponding preterite form (The dog barked again), but doesn't have a comparative (*Rex is more barking than Fido). It doesn't accept such modifiers as very (*The dog is very barking). It can't occur in predicative complement function: be in the example is the progressive auxiliary, and can't be replaced by such verbs as become and seem (*The dog seems barking).

Example: Their behaviour was disgusting.
Answer: Disgusting is here an adjective. It allows the comparative construction (Their behaviour was more disgusting than ever), and can be modified by very, too in the sense "excessively", and so on (Their behaviour was too disgusting for words). Be can be replaced by verbs such as become and seem (Their behaviour seems quite disgusting). Disgusting can also be a verb, as in They were clearly disgusting the audience yet again: note that the properties just described do not apply to this latter use.

5. For each of the following adjectives say whether it is (a) gradable; (b) non-gradable; or (c) ambiguous, usable in two senses of which one is gradable and the other is not. In case (c), give examples of the two uses, commenting on the difference in meaning.

Example: utter
Answer: Non-gradable — an utter fool, but not *a more utter fool than I'd ever met

Example: perfect
Answer: Gradable — compare with You couldn't wish for a more perfect day.

6. For each of these examples, identify the predicand of the underlined predicative AdjP.

Example: Everyone who had to deal with Janet was becoming somewhat irritable.
Answer: everyone

Example: The committee considered his remarks highly offensive.
Answer: his remarks

7. Which of the following adjectives license PP complements with a particular preposition as head? Give examples for those that do. If you cannot find any example in which the adjective has a PP complement, just write `none'.

Example: equivalent
Answer: Licenses a PP headed by to: That is equivalent to a refusal.

Example: intellectual
Answer: None

8. Classify the underlined words below as adjectives or adverbs, giving your reasons in each case.

Example: I found his remarks slightly offensive.
Answer: Adverb. It functions as modifier of an adjective; it can't occur in the adjectival functions of noun modifier (*a slightly mistake) or predicative complement (*Our chances of success are slightly).

Example: I found them very friendly.
Answer: Adjective. It functions as predicative complement (cf. also They are very friendly), and can also function as modifier to a noun (a friendly person). The ·ly suffix here forms an adjective from a noun, not an adverb from an adjective.

9. [We do not supply any sample answer here, since what you are asked to do is to make up some simple examples illustrating the uses of quite.]