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Hi guys

I have to draw a syntax tree diagram for my seminar as a part of "active participation" and I am not quite certain if I've done it right so far. So I would appreciate it if you guys could take a look at it.
And one more thing concerning adjuncts in a Verbal Phrase: How are they marked in syntax trees? i.e. do they fall into the category of Determiner phrase or do I simply mark them as adjunct? In the following tree I've marked them as DP... But as I said I am not sure if it's right or not.

I sincerely hope you can help me.  :)

Thanks a lot in advance.


I've seen so many different versions of trees in books and been in different classes at different universities where they introduce things at one stage and then move on to add categories, so it really becomes quite impossible to look at another person's tree and say, "Yep, that's fine." In some cases, the class teacher might have made some assumptions that might not fit, and so a positive answer here might not always mean that it will be considered correct in the context of your class. Having said that, it looks okay to me on a general basis. For the adjunct, you need to label it with the part of speech of that category. 'Soon' is not a determiner, it is a [FILL IN BLANK], so you need a [FILL IN BLANK] bar-level and a [FILL IN BLANK] phrase instead of DP.

Hi Chewy and welcome!

Be aware that there are different styles of drawing trees along with different theories. Some vary only just slightly, while others are substantially different.

Based on what I see in your tree, I'm assuming you're using standard X-bar theory. Does that sound right?

Always remember that for the grade in your class, your textbook and ultimately your instructor are all that matter. Beyond your class (and based on what you've learned there) there are lots of options.

That said, I'll make some comments.

X-bar theory is based on the idea that phrases have heads. In almost all cases (all in the standard approach), each phrase has one head, and each head has one phrase. Every X has an XP, and every XP has an X. There is a one-to-one correspondence.

Your tree violates this a number of times by having layered XPs on top of each other. That's what the theory looked like before X-bar (and in fact probably how your book originally introduced it), but that's what X-bar is for. Instead of duplicating XP, you'll simply call the intermediate node X', whatever it is. You can have as many X' nodes as required. So you might have a tree (imagine this vertically) like XP-X'-X'-X'-X'-X. One head. One phrase. Many intermediate nodes (X').
That's the first thing I fixed below. I just changed your extra (lower) XPs to X'. Along with that, you had an extra level in the NP because you can just use N' next. Fixed. Same in the IP.

Now that the technicalities have been dealt with, let's look at the content.

The first problem is the position of "soon" as an adjunct. The first branch after an XP is the specifier. The intermediate branches are adjuncts. The last one is the complement.

Therefore, if you have an adjunct "soon" it should not be immediately under VP. It should be one level lower, attached to V'.
As a minor point, why DP for "soon"? I think lx was hinting at this too. What class is it?

The next problem involves the placement of the direct object ("his pretty girlfriend"). Direct objects are arguments of the verbs. They're always complements. See the example tree above. So you don't need the extra V' level. Just make the DP sister to the V itself.

Finally, there are some very complicated issues with "Will John" (your current IP level). Dealing with this will most likely get beyond where you are in the textbook at the moment, but maybe not. Ask for more clarification or let us know if this is too much information. It's hard when I'm not sure exactly where you are in the book/theory/course at the moment.

Basic constituency makes it clear that "Will John" is not a constituent. For example (based on my favorite test), "Will John" would be a terrible book title. Therefore, you cannot create a tree in which a node represents the apparent constituent "will John". That's wrong. Here your IP contains "will John" like that. How can this be solved? Here's an outline:
1. Subjects start off within the VP as specifiers. But they move!
[This is possibly/probably beyond where you are at the moment.]
2. Subjects then move to the IP as specifiers.
You probably have encountered this, given where you're trying to put the subject at the moment. So it should go before "will". But that would give you the declarative (non-question) order "John will...."
3. In special cases, including questions, the I of the IP can move up to C of CP, via Subject-Auxiliary Inversion. The subject does NOT move again. But the verb does.
[I would think this is also past where you are now in the class, except that your instructor apparently gave you a question to analyze rather than a statement. Odd.]
The details, beyond that, get complicated.

I haven't fixed the final tree for you because it's better if you figure it out yourself. But feel free to ask questions.

Wow, my rustiness in syntactic trees is showing.
Listen to what Daniel said, he's very much in his element here it seems. Can't believe I didn't notice 'soon' was under the VP!

Haha, not to worry. I'm a TA for syntax. We use standard X-bar theory in there, so I'm used to that. When I'm not in that mindset it's often easy to overlook details, and in my daily work I'm often doing other things, with other assumptions.


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