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What is a predicate? Definition and concept

It is difficult to explain what a predicate is, because this term is used in the most opposite fields of knowledge - from mathematics to logic and linguistics. The word is derived from the Latin praedicatum and is translated as "spoken," that is, it means that the subject at a given moment is said - no matter, with a negative or an affirmation. The predicate is widely used as a term in linguistics, especially in the terminology systems of Western Europe. In Russian, too, it is known what a predicate is, only here we replace this term with a "predicate", although this is not exactly the same thing.

The concept of

Not all information about a subject can be indicated by this term. To understand what a predicate is, it is possible, having previously understood, what semantic requirements are presented to it. If you indicate the feature of the subject, as well as its state along with the relation to other subjects, then this term can be used. The very underlining of existence or being in the ordinary meaning of this word does not answer the question of what a predicate is, since there is no judgment in it. For example: unicorns do not exist ; This is cherry ; Almonds are not a nut . In all these indications there are no predicate objects.

Modern lines of logic often replace the concept of a predicate by another, called a propositional function, where the main arguments are actants - the object and the subject. Terminological mixing in grammatical and logical categories was not avoided, but in linguistic usage the term we are using is always used. For example, predicate-type terms of the predicate type are associated in the formal aspect of the given sentence member. They can be nominal, verbal and so on. While the definition of a predicate is expressed in its meaningful aspect.

Types of predicates

Among the semantic types are taxonomic, relational, evaluation, characterizing. Taxonomic indicate the class of the object. For example: your favorite shoes are bast shoes; The grown tree is cedar; New movie - fantasy . A relational predicate is the value of an indication of how one object relates to another. For example: on the bast shoes there is a bast; Cedar - from the family of pine; Fantasy - a fantasy genre . Characterizing predicates indicate the attributes of the object are static or dynamic, transient or permanent. For example: bast shoes worn out; Cedar grows; Fantasy is fascinating .

Particular attention should be paid to the type, which is called the predicate evaluation. For example: shoes - ecological shoes; Cedars are very beautiful; Fantasy immerse the viewer in a fairy tale . There are also word-predicates related to the type of spatial and temporal localization. For example: bast shoes in a box; Cedar cones will be in September; Fantasy reading at home . It must be remembered that it is not so easy to determine the type of a predicate precisely because different types of the predicate are usually represented syncretic in the language. That is, one verb can express not only one relation of objects to each other, but at the same time characteristics and localization.

Other classification

You can classify these words on other grounds. The type of the subject plays a decisive role: the lowest order predicates refer to the material entities, and the higher - to characterize the various types of non-material objects. Here two types are sharply contrasted: relating to the event and characterizing the proposition, an invariant. For example: the bast shoes broke only yesterday - the bast shoes broke, but yesterday - it is very doubtful .

Further, according to this classification, it is necessary to divide the predicates by the number of actants. Single: bast shoes are easy; Cedar - powerful ; Double: l apty are easy on legs; Cedar covered the sun ; Triple: the bast shoes are easy on the feet when walking; The cedar covered the sun for the underbrush . Another way to divide predicates into first-order (non-derivative - cedar is ); Second order (being derived from the first - cedar resistant ); Third-order (derived from the second), and so on.


In logic and linguistics, the predicate is the predicate of judgment, that is, what is expressed with the negation or affirmation of the subject. Such words show the absence or presence of a feature in the subject. From the point of view of linguistics, it speaks of semantic and syntactic predicates. The latter is an element of the surface of the structure, that is, the predicate, and the first is the kernel of the semantic configuration that reflects the situation outside the language, that is, its nuclear semantheme.

In the same way, the semantic predicate is represented in a variety of ways and at the level of the surface of the structure. There is no one-to-one correspondence between these two types of predicates, because any of them can reflect the same situation. For example: I put bast shoes in a corner; I put the bast shoes in a corner; Put in a corner bast . Traditionally, the problem of linguistics that does not have a solution belongs to the definition of the predicate concept. A positive response would be essential for the development of the concept - semantic or syntactic, but the predicate has not yet been unambiguously defined.


In the terminology, the concept of a "predicate" is not a basic one, and therefore it is necessary to determine it by checking the configuration of the syntactic representation. The predicate component is usually one that has a verb group. Informally speaking, everything related to the verb of a personal form and constituting a single syntactic group with it is a predicate constituent.

In particular, it includes auxiliary elements (a component of the auxiliary verb). The predicate, together with the subject, exhausts completely in the sentence its syntactic structure. And then each of these components can split into simpler ones. In this concept, levels are distinguished - surface and initial, then the presence of complications will be minimized.


So, the structure of the predicate can be superficial and initial. However, the composition of syntactic groups does not reflect either the order of words, or the pledge - passive or active. For example: the oak grows a thousand years; A thousand years old the oak grows; An oak grows a thousand years . All these sentences have the identical components of the predicate in their original structure.

However, the original structures, with their closeness, are not always related to the surface structures by semantic equivalence. The logic of a predicate can not always be reduced to a single interpretation, even if the components are correlated on a pledge. For example:

  • New trees are grown in the old garden.
  • In the old garden were grown new trees .

Is not it true that in the same words a somewhat different meaning is invested in the same words?

Semantic interpretation

Further development of this model leads to a narrowing of the gap between the surface and initial representations in the sentence. Under different initial structures both active and passive variants will be interpreted in different ways, although equivalent pairs are also possible semantically. Grammar is built in such a way that for these kinds of sentences all syntactic structures are set separately, and the transformation does not affect the final result when a passive variant with a superficial sentence structure is obtained.

It simply happens that syntactic representations are translated into semantic representations by means of grammatical rules, establishing the closeness or even equivalence of the corresponding surface structures. Moreover, the same sentence can have a semantic interpretation of several types of predicate at once.

The logic of predicates

A predicate is a statement in which arguments are added. If one argument is substituted - the predicate will express its property, if more - it will draw the relationship between all the arguments. For example: an oak tree; Spruce is a tree . Here the property is expressed - to be a tree. Hence, this predicate is represented by both oak and spruce. The following example: The bast shoes are woven from a bast . The predicate here is the word "bast shoes", and the arguments are the remaining words, since they refer to it and in themselves do not have sufficient independence. Woven - bast shoes. Of bast - bast shoes.

The logic of the utterance has a very narrowly defined language and therefore is not suitable for human reasoning, therefore people use the language of predicate logic, that is, reasoning. As an example, let us cite a reasoning that can not be expressed by the logic of a statement: All people are mortal. I am human. I, too, are mortal . The language of utterance logic needs to be written down in three separate fragments without any connection with each other. And the language of predicates immediately identifies two main: "to be mortal" and "to be human." Then the first sentence is densely connected with them.


The semantic structure of the sentence has its own categories. They are predicates conveying a state or a concrete action, actants - actors of action or objects of all kinds (direct, indirect, results, etc.), sirkonstanty - various circumstances as a field of actions.

For example: At night, a tree knocked on a tree with branches . The details here, it can be said, are the maximum. Predicate active action will be the word "knocked". Next are the actants: the subject is "tree", the object is "in the window", the instrumental is "branches". The word "night" is the Sirconstant (or temporativ, or the circumstance of time). But there may be a second, local - "from the street", for example.


Predicates are structured according to the semantic principle in this way: actually predicates (for example - states) and actants (participants in the event). Semantically actants also have a division into types:

  • The subject (in other words, the agent) is a subjective type actant or active agent. For example: a tree grows .
  • An object is a direct or indirect addressee that is exposed or not directly affected. For example: a cat catches a mouse .
  • Instructive is an object without which the situation can not be realized. For example: ate soup .
  • The result is the designation of the result of the actions performed. For example: in the spring the grass grew .

In addition, we can not do without the sirkostant - the circumstances of the actions. They, too, are divided into groups. The two most frequent and basic are temporative and locative. For example: in the spring it becomes warm . The word "spring" is temporative. The lilac blossoms everywhere . The word "everywhere" is a locale.


To learn how to accurately establish the subject and predicate in judgment, and this is extremely important for your own eloquence, and for the most accurate understanding of someone else's thoughts, you need to understand very clearly what is the subject in this statement, and what is said about its qualities.

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