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The theory of syntax addresses three strongly interconnected ranges of facts. The first of these is the combinatorical possibilities of words. It is very clear that The boys ate is a sentence of ordinary English, while four other permutations of these three elements, *The ate boys, *Ate boys the, *Boys the ate, and *Boys ate the, are outside the bounds of ordinary English. The remaining one, ?Ate the boys, is harder to pass judgment on, but it seems clear that its stylistic value is very different from that of the first sentence. Similarly, speakers of English will strongly agree that The boys eat and The boy eats are ordinary sentences of the language, while *The boy eat and *The boy ates are not, a highly generalizable observation that justifies the statement, familiar to all from school grammar, that predicates agree with their subjects in person and number.
KeywordsNoun Phrase Word Order Regular Language Verb Phrase Categorial Grammar
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