Why can’tWhy can’t
we draw awe draw a sharp linesharp line
content wordscontent words
function wordsfunction words??
Resource Person:Resource Person:
Sir Khalil AhmadSir Khalil Ahmad
Presented by:-Presented by:-
Maqsood AhmadMaqsood Ahmad
ID# 090418002 (MSc AL)ID# 090418002 (MSc AL)
University of Management and TechnologyUniversity of Management and Technology
Johar Town. Lahore.Johar Town. Lahore.
Criteria for Word Classes
We use a combination of three criteria for
determining the word class of a word
The meaning of the word
The form or `shape' of the word
The position or environment of the word in a sentence
What is a function word?
Little semantic content of its own
Indicates a grammatical relationship.
No identifiable meaning
such as preposition, conjunction or article
Different names for function words:
Auto semantic words
Little lexical meaning
Have ambiguous meaning
This is a boy.
This boy is running.
Serve to express grammatical
relationships with other words
within a sentence
Specify the attitude or mood of the
The following is a list considered to be function
Articles: the, a
Pronouns: he, him, she, her, etc.
Conjunctions: and, that, when, while, although,
Interjections: sometimes called "filled pauses",
Modal verbs: can, must, will, should, ought,
Auxiliary verbs: be (is, am, are), have, got, do
Particles: if, then, well, however, thus,
no, not, nor, as etc.
Expletives: take the place of sentences,
among other functions.
Pro-sentences: yes, okay, etc.
Prepositions: of, at, in, without, between
Pronouns: he, they, anybody, it, one
Determiners: the, a, that, my, more, much,
More fine-grained distinction
All grammatical morphology is “functional”
Derivation affixes: -er. -ly, -ment etc.
What is a content word?
Not function word
open class word
Uninflected stems are content “words”
Nouns: John, room, answer
Full verbs: search, grow, hold, have
Adjectives: happy, new, large, grey
Adverbs: really, completely, very, also, enough
Numerals: one, thousand, first
Interjections: eh, ugh, phew, well
Yes/No answers: yes, no (as answers)
content and function words
The class of function words is closed.
Do not easily add new words to this set.
English has 300 closed class words.
The class of content words is open.
New words are being added in every language
content and function words
Content words obey the minimal word constraint
but function words do not.
Little function words: I, the, a, it, of, etc…
No open class words are this little!
Function words are acquired later than content
Can we draw a sharp line between
Because, The same lexical word
either content or function word
depending on its function in an utterance.
"I have come to see you"
"have" is a function word (auxiliary verb)
"I have three apples"
"have" is a content word (full verb)
"One has one's principles"
"one" is a function word (pronoun)
"I have one apple"
"one" is a content word (numeral)
"I have no more money"
"no" is a function word (a negative particle)
"No. I am not coming"
"no" is a content word (Yes/No answer)
Numerals are a subclass of nouns:
like nouns, they can take determiners
the two of us,
the first of many
They can even have numerals as determiners
“five twos are ten”
twos is a plural noun
It has the determiner five before it.
Considerable overlap between the
determiner class and the
subclass of pronouns. Many words can be both:
This is a very boring book
That's an excellent film
That film is excellent
This book is very boring
Determiners function in much the same way
as nouns and they can be replaced by nouns.
This is a very boring book Ivanhoe is a very boring book
That's an excellent film Witness is an excellent film
On the other hand, when these words are determiners,
they cannot be replaced by nouns:
This book is very boring Ivanhoe book is very boring
That film is excellent Witness film is excellent
Personal pronouns (I, you, he, etc) cannot be determiners. This
is also true for possessive pronouns (mine, yours, his/hers,
ours, and theirs).
These pronouns do have corresponding forms which are
Possessive Pronoun Determiner
The white car is mine. My car is white.
Yours is the blue coat. Your coat is blue.
The car in the garage is his/hers. His/her car is in the garage.
David's house is big but ours is bigger. Our house is bigger than David's.
Theirs is the house on the left. Their house is on the left.
Stressed words carry the meaning or the sense behind
For this reason they are called “Content Words”
They carry the content of the sentence
Unstressed words tend to be smaller words
Have more of a grammatical significance
They help the sentence “function” syntactically
For this reason they are called “Function Words”
Sometimes “Function Words” are referred to as
I am talking to the clever students.
You’re sitting on the desk
but you aren’t listening to me.
“ No!” screamed David angrily
as he wiped away the tears from his face
and ran into his bedroom.
“What’s your name and how are you today?”
This is all from my side.