Syntactic description

We assume all Croatian valency patterns can be described by ten classes of complements, which are:

  • Nominative Complement (NomC)
  • Genitive Complement (GenC)
  • Dative Complement (DatC)
  • Accusative Complement (AccC)
  • Instrumental Complement (InstC)
  • Prepositional Complement (PrepC)
  • Adverbial Complement (AdvC)
  • Predicative Complement (PredC)
  • Infinitive Complement (InfC)
  • Sentential Complement (SentC)

Nominative Complement (NomC)

The Nominative Complement corresponds to the traditional concept of the subject. The Nominative Complement can be realized as a noun phrase or a pronominal phrase (pronoun), a quantificational phrase, an infinitive, and an adjective phrase. The majority of Croatian verbs require a Nominative Complement while only a small amount does not. Verbs which lack any complements are avalent verbs. There are also verbs which have one or two complements, neither of which belongs to the Nominative Complement. Also, not all noun phrases with the nominative case belong to the Nominative Complement. Nominative nouns or pronouns in copular sentences (Žena je profesorica (nom). ‘The woman is a teacher.’) or in secondary predication (Ivan je postao bogataš (nom). ‘Ivan became a rich man.’) belong to the Predicative Complement. The Nominative Complement is always obligatory, although not always realized phonologically. In Croatian, which is a null pronoun language, pronominal subjects do not need to be expressed in the first and second person (Došla sam. came - 1sg past fem ‘I came’, Jedeš. eat - 2sg pres ‘You are eating.’). We assume the Nominative Complement is also present in these sentences. In such cases, we add personal pronoun in parentheses to sentence examples.

Genitive Complement (GenC)

The Genitive Complement mostly corresponds to the genitive object (e.g. Svijet se sjeća pape-gen Wojtyle-gen. ‘The world remembers Pope Wojtyla.’) and complements of some existential verbs. The Genitive Complement can be realized as a noun, a pronominal (pronoun), a adjective and a quantificational phrase. In processing psychological verbs, we came across some existential verbs which sometimes have as only case complement the noun with the genitive marking. We decided to define the that noun phrase as the Genitive Complement (Ovdje nedostaje etike (gen pl) i morala (gen pl). ‘Ethics and morality are lacking here.’). Genitive noun phrases with existential verbs are considered partitive genitive. Prototypical instances of partitive genitives are found in the object position where the genitive form replaces the accusative. Despite the similarities, we do not consider the partitive genitive in the object position a Genitive Complement, but rather a realization of the Accusative Complement. In the case of existential verbs, we find the partitive genitive only with some verb meanings, while other meanings use the nominative case. This is why we have introduced a separate complement in the case of several existential verbs.

Dative Complement (DatC)

The Dative Complement includes indirect objects (Oko se divi ljepoti (dat). ‘The eye admires beauty.’) and logical subjects marked with the dative case (Vrti mi (dat) se. ‘I am dizzy.’). The Dative Complement can be realized as a noun, pronominal (pronoun), adjective and a quantificational phrase. The Dative Complement can be both obligatory and optional. Apart from being complements, nouns marked with the dative case are frequently adjuncts as well. Logical subjects in the dative case, dative experiencers, or dative stimuli with psychological verbs (Blanki (dat) je dosadila duga kosa. ‘Blanka is bored with long hair.’), equational datives (Lijeva strana odgovara desnoj (dat). ‘The left side corresponds to the right.’), predicative datives (Maslina pripada voću (dat). ‘The olive belongs to [the category of] fruit.’), and some directional datives (Prišao je djevojci (dat) na šanku. ‘He approached the girl at the bar.’) are considered obligatory Dative Complement. Dative nouns with thematic role of recipient frequently belong to the optional category of Dative Complements (Ona mi (dat) se žalila na bolove. ‘She complained (to me) of her pain.’). The ethical dative is an adjunct (Ona mi (dat) se danas dobro osjeća. ‘She (to/for me) feels well today.’). Whether a dative phrase is a complement or adjunct is tested by transforming a dative noun/pronoun phrase to a possessive pronoun or possessive adjective. If such transformation is possible, the dative is considered an adjunct (Nismo ti zabilježili grijehe. ‘We have not written down to-you (dat) sins.’ → Nismo zabilježili tvoje grijehe. ‘We have not written down your sins.’).

The accusative Complement (AccC)

The Accusative Complement corresponds to the direct object. The Accusative Complement can be realized as a nominal (noun), pronominal (pronoun), adjective phrase, e.g. Govorim njemački. 'I speak German (adj.)', quantificational phrase, as kao-phrase 'as-phrase', e. g. Vidim kao neku ženu. I see as some women. 'I see something which looks as a woman.'. The noun or pronominal phrases with partitive (Poželio sam kruha-gen.part ‘I wish for any/some bread.’) or Slavic genitive (Ne osjećam bolnih posljedica-gen.’Idon’t fell bad consequences / repercussions.’) in the object position are also considered the Accusative Complement. The Slavic genitive refers to genitive noun phrases in the object position which appears with negated transitive verbs, otherwise used with accusative objects. The phenomenon is well known in Slavic languages, and is also known under the name Genitive of Negation.

Not all noun phrases marked with the accusative case are part of the Accusative Complement. Some of them belong to the Adverbial Complement, also known as ‘measure accusatives’ (Kaput je stajao hrpu novaca (acc). ‘The coat cost a pile of money.’), or to adjuncts – very often to manner adjuncts (Hodali su ruku pod ruku. ‘They walked arm in arm.’). However, cognate objects belong to the Accusative Complement due to their argumental properties (Birtić, M. & Matas Ivanković. I. 2010: Akuzativne dopune uz neprijelazne glagole: što su unutrašnji objekti?, Rasprave Instituta za hrvatski jezik i jezikoslovlje 35/1).

The Instrumental Complement (InstC)

The Instrumental Complement comprises of indirect objects in the instrumental case (Ronaldo se ponosi sinom (inst). ‘Ronaldo is proud of his son.’) and of noun phrases with the semantic role of instrument, which traditional grammars sometimes consider adjuncts (Razveseljavali su nas svojim pričama (inst). ‘They cheered us up with their stories.’ Marko se oženio Ivanom (inst). ‘Marko married Ivana.’). Some nouns in the instrumental case are part of a Predicative Complement (Svi ga doživljavaju svecem (inst). ‘They all consider him a saint.’) or belong to adjuncts (Hodao je ulicom (inst). ‘He walked down the street.’). Instrumental Complement can be realized as a noun, pronominal (pronoun), an adjective and a quantificational phrase.

Instrumental Complements can be obligatory (mostly with divalent verbs, e. g. Ronaldo se ponosi sinom. ‘Ronaldo is proud of his son.’) and optional (mostly with trivalent verbs, e. g. Sin je majku iznenadio lošim ponašanjem (inst). ‘The son surprised the mother by his bad behaviour.’).

The Prepositional Complement (PrepC)

The Prepositional Complement includes prepositional objects (Zaljubila sam se u tebe. ‘I fell in love with you’, Ne ljute se svi roditelji na svoju djecu. ‘Not all parents get angry at their children.’). Prepositional phrases also belong to the category of Predicative Complements (Smatrali su ga za prijatelja. ‘They consider him a friend.’), Adverbial Complements (Ona živi u Londonu. ‘She lives in London.’), or frequently to the category of adjuncts (Više se ne uzrujavam zbog sitnih pogrešaka. ‘I do not get upset about minor errors anymore.’). There are two criteria for differentiate between prepositional complements and adverbial complements or adjuncts. First, if a prepositional phrase can be paraphrased by some other syntactic phrase, it is obviously not prepositional complement, but rather an adverbial complement or an adjunct. The second criterion consists of replacing the prepositional phrase by a pronoun (pronominalization). If the preposition is maintained after pronominalization, the phrase in question is prepositional complement, otherwise it is an adverbial pharase or an adjunct. (Mislim na Mariju. ‘I think of Maria.’→ Mislim na nju. ‘I think of her.’ / Vidio sam je na palubi. ’I saw her on the deck.’ → Vidio sam je tamo. ‘I saw her there.’)

Adverbial Complement (AdvC)

The Adverbial complement refers to those adverbial phrases which cannot be omitted without the sentence becoming ungrammatical. The Adverbial Complement can be realized as an adverb (Predstava počinje sada., ‘The show starts now.'), an adverbial phrase (Dvorac se smjestio tamo gore. ' The castle is located up there.'), a prepositional phrase (Ona živi u Londonu. ‘She lives in London.’) or noun (phrase) in genitive, dative, accusative and instrumental case. The Adverbial Complement is obligatory or optional, but the separation between the optional Adverbial Complement and the adjunct is very complex, and depends mostly on the researcher’s intuition and the chosen theory. For example in e-Glava it is assumed that the Adverbial Complement u braku (‘in marriage’) in the sentence Ona se dosađivala u braku. 'She was bored being married (lit. in marriage).' is optional, while the adverb sada 'now ' in the sentence Predstava počinje sada. 'The show starts now.' it is not.

The Predicative Complement (PredC)

The Predicative Complement includes syntactic phrases considered part of the predicate, e.g. nouns and adjectives in copular sentences (Profesor je šutljiv/budala. ‘The professor is quiet / a fool.’) or part of secondary predications (Oni svi su ga smatrali glupim / budalom / za budalu. ‘They all consider him stupid / a fool / as a fool.’). The Predicative Complement is realized by a noun or an adjective phrase in the nominative (Profesor je šutljiv/budala. ‘The professor is quiet / a fool.’) or instrumental case (Bio je vojnikom u 2. svjetskom ratu. 'He was a soldier (ins.) in the Second World War.’, Svi su ga smatrali pametnim. 'They all consider him clever-inst.)', by kao-phrase ‘as-phrase’ (Mi smo ga doživljavali kao oca. ‘We consider/feel him as father.’), prepositional phrase (Drže me za budalu. ‘They consider me (for) fool.’), adverb (Žene doživljavaju ultrazvuk pozitivno. ‘The women experience ultrasound positively.’). The Predicative Complement is always obligatory.

The Infinitive Complement (InfC)

The Infinitive Complement includes all infinitives which can appear as complements of verbs. E-glava treats infinitives as a separate class of complements. In Valbu model infinitive complements are part of some other complement class. Infinitives are often complements of modals and verbs that express phases of an action. Some verbs are not modal by their prototypical semantic class, but they attain a modal component of meaning when used with an infinitive (Bojim se ući. ‘I am afraid to enter.’).

The Sentential Complement (SentC)

The Sentential Complement includes all sentences which we find as complements of verbs. So, E-Glava does not make difference between sentential complements which appear at case position/position for prepositional phrases and can be replaced by noun or prepositional complements and those sentential complements which appear with verbs which does not take (case) complements. We decided to keep all sentential complements in the separate complement class for two reasons. Firstly, sometimes it is difficult to decide whether a sentential complement actually substitutes for some case complement. Hence, it is easier for a lexicographer to describe a syntactic environment of a verb. Secondly, from the viewpoint of the user it is easier to notice that a verb can take sentential complement except case complement if the information is conceptually and visually separated.