Syntagmatic relations are immediate linear relations between units in a segmental sequence. The combination of two words or word-groups one of which is modified by the other forms a unit which is reffered to as a syntactic » syntagma».

There are four main types of notional syntagmas: predicative (the combination of a subject and a predicate), objective (-/- a verb and its object), attributive (a noun and attribute), adverbial (a modified notional word, such as a verb, adjective, or adverb, with its adverbial modifier). The other type of relations, opposed to syntagmatic and called «paradigmatic», are such as  exist between elements of the system outside the strings where they co-occur. Unlike syntagmatic relations, paradigmatic relations cannot be directly observed in utterances, that is why they are reffered to as relations «in absentia».

Paradigmatic relations coexist with syntagmatic relations in such a way that some sort of syntagmatic connection is necessery for the realization of any paradigmatic series. This is especially evident in a classical grammatical paradigm which presents a productive series of forms each consisting of a syntagmatic connection of two elements: one common for the whole of the series, the other specific for every individual form in the series.

A linguistic unit can enter into relations of two different kinds. It enters into paradigmatic relations with all the units that can also occur in the same environment. PR are relations based on the principles of similarity. They exist between the units that can substitute one another. For instance, in the word-group A PINT OF MILK the word PINT is in paradigmatic relations with the words bottle, cup, etc. The article A can enter into PR with the units the, this, one, same, etc. According to different principles of similarity PR can be of...

three types: semantic, formal and functional.

Semantic PR are based on the similarity of meaning: a book to read = a book for reading. He used to practice English every day — He would practice English every day.

Formal PR are based on the similarity of forms. Such relations exist between the members of a paradigm: man — men; play — played — will play — is playing.

Functional PR are based on the similarity of function. They are established between the elements that can occur in the same position. For instance, noun determiners: a, the, this, his, Ann’s, some, each, etc.

PR are associated with the sphere of ‘language’.

A linguistic unit enters into syntagmatic relations with other units of the same level it occurs with. SR exist at every language level. E.g. in the word-group A PINT OF MILK the word PINT contrasts SR with A, OF, MILK; within the word PINT — P, I, N and T are in syntagmatic relations. SR are linear relations, that is why they are manifested in speech. They can be of three different types: coordinate, subordinate and predicative.

Coordinate SR exist between the homogeneous linguistic units that are equal in rank, that is, they are the relations of independence: you and me; They were tired but happy.

Subordinate SR are the relations of dependence when one linguistic unit depends on the other: teach + er — morphological level; a smart student — word-group level; predicative and subordinate clauses — sentence level.

Predicative SR are the relations of interdependence: primary and secondary predication.

As mentioned above, SR may be observed in utterances, which is impossible when we deal with PR. Therefore, PR are identified with ‘language’ while SR are identified with ‘speech’.



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Syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations in Grammar