adjective phrase (AP)

a phrase headed by an adjective. In the complement position we can find PPs and finite and non-finite CPs. DPs and exceptional clauses are excluded since adjectives are not Case assigners. APs are complements of DegPs.


a constituent not selected by a head.


a type of movement where a new position is formed as a result of the movement creating an adjunction structure, like the (simplified) movement of the PP in the following tree structure representation where the S node is doubled:


a constituent with the feature composition [+N, +V, F] used to modify a verb (as in everything went smoothly) or a sentence (as in Unfortunately, I did not pass the first exam). In this approach adverbs and adjectives belong to the same category, the difference between them being what they modify.


the head of a Determiner Phrase, a closed class item taking an NP complement defining its definiteness. Feature composition: [+F, N, +V]

determiner phrase (DP)

a phrase headed by a central determiner or the possessive s morpheme. The complement of a DP is an NP, the specifier the DP the possessive ending attaches to.

noun phrase (NP)

a phrase headed by a noun. Noun heads can take PP or CP complements, DP complements are excluded since nouns are not Case assigners. The specifier position of an NP is occupied by what are generally called post-determiners. NPs are complements of DPs.

preposition phrase (PP)

a phrase headed by a preposition. It usually takes a DP complement but certain types of CPs can also appear in the complement position of PPs. PPs themselves can be complements of different constituents such as verbs, nouns and adjectives.


a DP that usually refers to another DP, but contains only the grammatical features (number, person, gender) of it (I, you, he, she, etc.). Its interpretation depends on linguistic factors or the situation. Within the DP pronouns occupy the D head position, as they cannot be modified by determiners even on very special readings (as opposed to grammaticality of the John I met yesterday)


a determiner that expresses a definite or indefinite amount or number of the nominal expression it modifies, e.g. all, both, some, many, four.

Basic English Syntax with Exercises

4.2.3 Adjunction within the DP

Adjunction within the DP itself is a rather limited phenomenon. We know that APs and PPs act as modifiers of nouns and adjoin within the NP, but these do not adjoin within the DP ever as can be seen by the fact that they never precede determiners or never modify pronouns:

(55)a*tall the building(the tall building)
b*he in the smart suit(the man in the smart suit)

Certain adverbs may precede determiners and hence might be analysed as DP adjuncts:

(56)anot the right answer
bonly a fool

However, it is not at all clear that these elements form part of the DP at all as their distribution is more limited than we would expect if they were inside the DP:

(57)athis is not the right answer
b*not the right answer is 42
(58)aonly a fool would think that
b*I met only a fool

These observations would be consistent with the idea that these modifiers are not part of the DP at all, but occupy separate positions in the sentence.

There are some cases of modification by an adverb, however, that do seem to behave as though the adverb is part of the DP. This mainly takes place with quantificational determiners, the meaning of which is modified by the adverb:

(59)aalmost all men have two legs and one head
bI like almost all Renaissance paintings

It seems that such adverbs are adjoined at the DP level, rather than at the D' level as can be seen from the fact that they precede possessives:

(60)aalmost Johns whole life was spent avoiding work
b*his almost whole life

Thus, we propose the following analysis for these structures: