Sample Syntax Exercises Using Trees 3 Grammar Tools

The following are a sample of Trees-based exercises and exam questions that have been used in teaching syntax courses at the University of Pennsylvania. Further exercises can be found in Beatrice Santorini's online textbook.
  1. Tree substitution grammar is a strict notational variant of the more standard phrase structure grammar notation based on rewrite rules. The "Trees" program works with tree substitution grammars, which may be extended in various ways, for example by the addition of adjunction or transformations. This assignment is based on a grammar in which the substitution operation is supplemented with adjunction to handle modification by PPs and adverbs. Download the grammar tool structural-ambiguity1, to do the exercise below.

    The following sentences are structurally ambiguous. For each one, use the grammar tool to construct two tree diagrams, one corresponding to each interpretation.

    1. I enthusiastically recommend this candidate with no qualifications.
    2. I like the house on the corner with no sign.
    3. John will answer the question precisely at noon.

  2. Download the grammar tool one tool. Use the tool to answer the questions under the "Questions" menu. Note that the "Instructions" menu contains instructions on how to use the grammar tool.

  3. Download the grammar tool adv-placement. Use the tool to answer the questions under the "Instructions and Questions" menu. Note that the menu also contains instructions on how to use the grammar tool.

  4. Download the grammar tool simple-grammar and use it to answer this exercise. The lexicon for this tool consists of one letter expressions. Try building complex expressions out of the lexical entries by dragging them on top of each other or onto other nodes that appear in the course of a derivation. Before beginning a derivation, you must select a grammar (G1 or G2) in the "choose-grammar" menu above the workspace. The grammar tool requires that the first combination be produced by dragged one roman letters onto the Greek phi. Play with the tool to see what can happen next. Once you are able to construct complex expressions, answer the following questions: If presented with substrings generated by G1 and G2 containing only roman letters (i.e., if the phi were somehow invisible), can one tell which grammar has generated the string? What is the difference between G1 and G2?

  5. Download the grammar tool noun-mod. Using the tool, build structures for each of the following complex phrases to reflect their structural ambiguity. Are any of them more than two ways ambiguous? Are any of them unambiguous?

    1. headquarters painting agreement
    2. extensive headquarters painting
    3. headquarters painting strike
    4. European newspaper strike coverage

  6. Download the grammar passive+ and follow the instructions given in the tool to explore the grammar of "NP-movement."

  7. The following sentences with have and get are all grammatical in English.

    get sentences:
    1. John got arrested.
    2. John got Mary arrested.
    3. John got the bicycle stolen from him.
    have sentences:
    1. Mary had John arrested.
    2. Mary had John steal the bicycle.

    Download the have-get grammar tool to construct underlying structures and derivations for each of these sentences. What are the case and thematic properties of all of the verbs in each of these sentences? The grammar tool contains three variants of get and two of have. Which variant goes with each of the above sentences?

  8. Download the grammar tool binding, and use it to answer this question. The tool generates a fragment of an artificial language with English words but with its own syntax. Explore the fragment by constructing trees and performing the grammatical transformations that the tool allows or requires. Note that the language fragment generated by the tool includes sentences with reflexive pronouns. Make sure that your exploration of the tool is extensive enough to cover the whole range of alternatives allowed. Follow the instructions in the ``Instructions'' menu as a guide to constructing and testing the trees. Check the derivations with the ``Test Derivation'' menu item under the ``Grammar Check'' menu. For trees containing reflexives use the ``Test Reflexive Binding'' menu item to find the grammatically permissible binders of these pronouns. {\bf In playing with the tool, do not use the scissors to cut and paste subtrees, as this will produce unintended results. Instead use ``Undo'' in the File menu. Also, save partial trees in document files for repeated use.) Based on your exploration of the tool, describe the binding behavior of tool's language fragment and compare it to binding in English. In some ways, it is similar and in some ways, quite different. Describe these differences and similarities.