English grammar

English grammar


  1. Short answer questions (4 points each, 8 total)


  1. Briefly discuss the difference between tense and aspect (in general) and describe the tense/aspect system in English.
  2. What are some linguistic differences you would expect to find between a conversation and an academic text?


  1. Clause types

    For the sentences below, the number of finite and non-finite clauses is indicated. Put brackets around each of these clauses and identify them.  For the finite clause, do the following:
    (a)  identify the valency pattern; (b) identify the main arguments (subject, direct object, indirect object, subject predicative, object predicative, as relevant for the specific valency pattern).
    For the non-finite clause, identify (a) the type of clause (to clause, -ing clause, or –ed clause)  and (b) its function in the sentence (including all the above + adverbial + object/complement of preposition).  (3 points for each clause, 24 points total) 
  2. In 1789, the United States elected George Washington president, elevating the general to the country’s highest office in gratitude for his service.

Finite Clause 1   

Valency pattern:



Non-finite Clause 1 



  1. Depriving a dog of his ability to run away by immobilizing him with a hug can increase his stress level, and, if the dog’s anxiety becomes significantly intense, he may bite.

Finite Clause 1

Valency pattern:


Finite Clause 2

Valency pattern:

Finite Clause 3

Valency pattern:

Non-finite Clause 1 



Non-finite Clause 2



Non-finite Clause 3




  1. A. The paragraph below contains 6 finite verb phrases (labeled a through f).  Write down the complete verb phrase and indicate the tense/aspect/modality/voice for each verb phrase. (1 point each, 6 total)


Example:  Dinner was prepared by the cook.   was prepared:  Simple past passive


Signed languages (a) have been recognized as autonomous languages in many countries, including the USA and most of Europe, and (b) are used worldwide by large numbers of deaf individuals. Yet, sign language research (c) can be considered a fairly young field, which (d) did not start until the 1960s, whereas studies of hearing children’s language development (e) have a much longer history and traditionally (f) have focused on spoken languages, exploiting the auditory modality.



a      ___________________________           d.   ___________________________

  1. __________________________ e.  ___________________________
  2. ___________________________             f.  ___________________________


  1. Choose one of the passive clauses in the paragraph above and rewrite it in the active voice. If the agent does not appear in the original sentence, you will need to include an appropriate agent.   (2 points)





  1. The paragraph below contains five clauses beginning with ‘that’. Note that the entire clause is in bold and within brackets; two of the clauses are embedded within other clauses. For each clause, identify whether it is a noun complement clause, a verb complement clause, or a relative clause. (1 point each, 5 total)

Scientists increasingly realize the importance of gut and other microbes to our health and well-being, but one University of California, Berkeley, biologist is asking whether these microbes – our microbiota – might also have played a role in shaping who we are by steering evolution. Biologists have gathered evidence (a) [that the interdependence between animals and their symbionts – the organisms, typically bacteria, (b) [that live in or on them] – has consequences for the evolution of both.] But Michael Shapira, a UC Berkeley assistant professor of integrative biology, believes (c) [that the diverse microbial communities (d) [that we harbor] have a more profound effect, significantly ratcheting up evolution in an intimate collaboration for survival.]  In a recent paper in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Shapira, who studies the gut microbes of the nematode C. elegans, reviews evidence (e) [that demonstrates how microbiotas affect and contribute to host evolution, either by evolving along with the host, or by stepping in at critical moments to help the host adapt to a new environmental challenge.]

  1. _________________________________________________________
  2. _________________________________________________________
  3. _________________________________________________________
  4. _________________________________________________________
  5. _________________________________________________________



  1. Label the word class for each word in the following sentence. ( 1/2 point each, 6 points total)


The very hungry caterpillar likes life on leaves and eats them voraciously.



  1. Identify the following linguistic phenomena in the text below by labeling them and using brackets or underlining, except when instructed otherwise. (1 or 2 points each, 20 total)


  1. Relative clause with gap in object position (put brackets around the clause, circle the noun being modified, underline the relative pronoun, and identify the location of the gap) 2 points
  2. Relative clause with gap in subject position (put brackets around the clause, circle the noun being modified, underline the relative pronoun, and identify the location of the gap) 2 points
  3. Non-restrictive relative clause
  4. Copular clause with nominal SP (underline the verb and label the SP) 2 points
  5. Copular clause with adjectival SP (underline the verb and label the SP) 2 points
  6. Long passive
  7. Short passive
  8. Coordinated finite clauses
  9. Coordinated noun phrases
  10. Modal verb
  11. Preposition phrase that is a noun complement (postmodifier) (underline the noun that it modifies)
  12. Prepositional phrase that is an adverbial (underline the clause that it modifies)
  13. Finite adverbial clause
  14. Adjective used attributively
  15. Circumstance adverbial
  16. Stance OR linking adverbial


Facial expressions have been called the “universal language of emotion,” but people from different cultures perceive happy, sad or angry facial expressions in unique ways, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

“By conducting this study, we hoped to show that people from different cultures think about facial expressions in different ways,” said lead researcher Rachael E. Jack, PhD, of the University of Glasgow. “East Asians and Western Caucasians differ in terms of the features they think constitute an angry face or a happy face.”

The study, which was part of Jack’s doctoral thesis, was published online in APA’s Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Jack is a post-doctoral research assistant, and the study was co-authored by Philippe Schyns, PhD, director of the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Glasgow, and Roberto Caldara, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.

Some prior research has supported the notion that facial expressions are a hard-wired human behavior with evolutionary origins, so facial expressions wouldn’t differ across cultures. But this study challenges that theory and used statistical image processing techniques to examine how study participants perceived facial expressions through their own mental representations.

“A mental representation of a facial expression is the image we see in our ‘mind’s eye’ when we think about what a fearful or happy face looks like,” Jack said. “Mental representations are shaped by our past experiences and help us know what to expect when we are interpreting facial expressions.”

Fifteen Chinese people and 15 Caucasians living in Glasgow took part in the study. They viewed emotion-neutral faces that were randomly altered on a computer screen and then categorized the facial expressions as happy, sad, surprised, fearful, disgusted or angry. The responses allowed researchers to identify the expressive facial features that participants associated with each emotion.

The study found that the Chinese participants relied on the eyes more to represent facial expressions, while Western Caucasians relied on the eyebrows and mouth. Consequently,  cultural distinctions could lead to missed cues or misinterpreted signals about emotions during cross-cultural communications, the study reported.

“Our findings highlight the importance of understanding cultural differences in communication, which is particularly relevant in our increasingly connected world,” Jack said. “We hope that our work will facilitate clearer channels of communication between diverse cultures and help promote the understanding of cultural differences within society.”


  1. In the text below, locate and label the following: (1 point each, 10 points)
  2. a to- clause used as an adverbial
    b.         an –ed clause used as a noun postmodifier
    c           an –ing clause used as the object (complement) of a preposition
    d          an –ing clause used as an adverbial
    e,f,g     three noun complement clauses
    h,i        two relative clauses
    J           a verb complement clause

That old trope about there being at least 50 Eskimo words for snow has a new twist. Researchers at UC Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon University have taken a fresh look at words for snow, taking on an urban legend that has been referred to by some as “the great Eskimo vocabulary hoax.”

But instead of counting the words for snow used by Inuit, Yupik and other natives of the Arctic regions, as others have done, they looked at how people in warmer climates speak of snow and ice compared to their cold-weather counterparts. “We found that languages from warm parts of the world are more likely to use the same word for snow and ice,” said Alexandra Carstensen, a doctoral student in psychology and co-author of the study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The finding that people in warmer regions are less likely to distinguish between ice and snow indirectly supports a claim by anthropologist Franz Boas in 1911 that the words used to describe different types of snow in Arctic languages reflect the “chief interests of a people.” By the same principle, people in warmer climates, in which snow is less of a concern, are less likely to care as much about the difference between snow and ice, and so use one word to describe both, just as Hawaiians use the word hau for snow and ice.

To test that theory, researchers used multiple dictionaries and linguistic and meteorological data — as well as Google Translate and Twitter — to conduct an extensive search for words for snow and ice in nearly 300 diverse languages. They then linked those words to local climates and geography worldwide.

“We wanted to broaden the investigation past Eskimo languages in particular,” said study senior author Charles Kemp, an associate professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University. “The idea that languages reflect the needs of their speakers is general, and can be explored using data from all over the world.”

The study builds on the team’s previous research showing how language is shaped by our need to communicate precisely and efficiently.

“We think that terms for snow and ice reveal the same basic principle at work, modulated by local communicative need,” said study lead author Terry Regier, a professor of linguistics and cognitive science at UC Berkeley.