LINGUIST List 5.180

Sat 19 Feb 1994

Sum: All, and multiple parts of speech

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  1. "Ronald Lee Stone", Summary 5.76: ALL, multiple parts of speech

Message 1: Summary 5.76: ALL, multiple parts of speech

Date: Sat, 12 Feb 94 19:59:05 -0Summary 5.76: ALL, multiple parts of speech
From: "Ronald Lee Stone" <>
Subject: Summary 5.76: ALL, multiple parts of speech

LINGUIST community,

In LINGUIST volume 5.76, January 21, 1994, I posted a query
about whether a word could function as more than one part of speech
at the same time. I am grateful for the many thoughtful responses and
wish to repost some of the results to the list. Most of the responses
can be grouped into a few major categories.

Again, the sentence examined follows, and the word in question is ALL:

<<Organization, tone, style, grammar, and mechanics all
factor into this [the grade].>>

I apologize for not including more of the sentence's context in the
initial query, an important consideration in determining the classification
of part of the sentence. In reading the responses, I was also reminded that
my interest in language exceeds my linguistic training. Yet the issue
intrigued me and I'm glad that so many others were interested also.
Thanks to those who responded for sharing expertise and thus
clarifying this question.

I brought many of the responses back to the class, discussing differences
of opinion as well as elements of persuasion.

After reviewing the responses, I am of the opinion that in the context
of the sentence, ALL can be constructed most strongly as an adjective,
less strongly as an adverb, and weakly as an appositive. Good cases
were made for each of these classifications by several respondents.

I think that Dick Hudson, in LINGUIST 5.90, best explained how a
word can function as more than one part of speech at the same time--portions
of this and other responses follow:


(8) They have all gone home.

This shows that when "all" follows "they" as subject in examples like (9), it
could be taken equally well as either an adverb (depending on the verb), or as
an `adjective', depending on "they":

(9) They all went to bed.

Which just goes to show that syntactic ambiguity is possible without any trace
of semantic ambiguity. I don't think that's what the discussion was really
meant to be about, but anyway the facts about "all" are rather fascinating,
I think.

Dick Hudson
Dept of Phonetics and Linguistics,
University College London,
Gower Street,
London WC1E 6BT
(071) 387 7050 ext 3152


 From: Joseph Brown <> (RHO)

My parser says its a quantifying adjective, as in:

Chris and Pat both ate the popcorn.

as opposed to the adverb in

Chris and Pat together ate the popcorn.


 From: "George Fowler h(317)726-1482 o(812)855-2829" <>

I'm responding to you Linguist posting that appeared today about "all". In
your sentence "all" is a quantifier, i.e., a type of modifier. You could
substitute "each", another quantifier, and get what you want--a sentence with a
different modifier.

Organization, tone, style, grammar, and mechanics each factor into this.

The point is that quantifiers have some freedom as to position in the sentence,
and don't have to occur in the canonical pre-nominal modifier position. There's
a ton of literature on quantifier floating; see James McCawley's The Major
Syntactic Structures of English for some good discussion.
 George Fowler
 Dept. of Slavic Languages
 Indiana University


 From: Larry Hutchinson <>

I have nothing profound to say about your puzzle, but I could note that there
are other such puzzles out there. I'm thinking of the things that caused
early prescriptivists trouble because "simple" rules either didn't seem to
apply or applied "incorrectly." Certain case forms and number agreements, for
example. Things like "A few thousand men are ..." and "We expected him to

What do you think about your part of speech assignment to ALL when proper
names are involved? "McClellan, Grant, and Sherman all disagreed with

[It seems to me that ALL can function more strongly as an adjective in a
sentence with proper names, possibly because the focus on the subject(s) is
stronger. Q rls ]


 From: shetzer heidi <>

You asked if a word can function dually as more than one part of speech at
the same time--I definately think so and the reason is context--the
context in which the sentence "lives" seems to affect the part of speech
it represents. By context I mean more than just sentence-level
context, i'm referring to something a bit larger that encompasses
the "idea" you're trying to get across. A lot of syntactic
research I've been exposed to dealt with analyzing syntax on the sentence
level, which I will
attempt to do here, however, sometimes you loose a lot by only
looking at one sentence and not surrounding ones also.

So on the basis of only this sentence I immediately thought the
subject-noun phrase was "organization,tone, style, grammar, and mechanics"
which you can "check" by substituting another noun or noun phrase in its
place. Another "test" you can use is coordination--that is, conjoining
another noun or noun phrase with it. For example,
<<Organization, tone, style, grammar and mechanics, and persuasion all
factor into this [the grade]>>
Coordination works better i think in simpler sentences, but anyhow, it's
another test besides substitution that I thought I'd pass on to you.

As far as "ALL" being the subject, of the entire sentence, I don't think
that is the case here. If you just delete what we think is the complex
subject, I think the meaning of the sentence left is changed. Unless we
have other previous sentences that show us what all represents, that
meaning is lost and I think we have a different idea. That's why I think
context is really important when analyzing syntax, because in cases like
this you need a referent not present in the sentence to give you the full
meaning of the idea. I am not saying that in any other sentence "all"
can't be a subject, obviously it can in other places--eg All were present
at the meeting.

So to answer one of your questions I do think there are limitations to
substitution and as I've tried to explain it's because of context and

You mentioned the dictionary and grammar checkers too in your query.
There's a danger to those because context is not considered, and meaning
and context like I've tried to show is sometimes a delicate thing--you
really need to view words in general, i think, in the contexts they exist
in. "All" will refer to different things depending on different contexts.

If you're interested in references to research in syntax and context I'd
be happy to send you some references. Marianne Celce-Murcia from UCLA has
written articles on this--She came and gave a talk here at the U. of
Illinois Urbana-Champaign last fall--it was really interesting.

Also, I can give you some references and information I got from a course
in Syntactic Analysis If you'd like. These would detail different "tests"
you can use to analyze sentences with. (eg: substitution, coordination,
and others) There's a textbook on english grammar by Lyles that goes over
tests for different parts of speech that is interesting to look at.

Well, sorry to be so long-winded in this response, I was glad to get a
chance to respond to a query--I'm a grad student too--some of the stuff
posted on this list is pretty technical and when I say a query that I
thought I could add my own two cents I thought I'd jump at the chance.

Have fun with all the responses you get! I posted something a couple
months ago and found it exciting to get tons of email messages from around
the globe.

Good Luck,

Heidi Shetzer
Division of English as an International Language
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


 From: (lc22)

You'll probably get responses from better grammarians than I am, but my
analysis would take _all_ in that context as a pronoun in apposition to the
compound noun-phrase consisting of that list of things that factor in. . . .

Reasoning: _all_, like _both_, _some/any_, etc., are identified by Quirk &
Greenbaum as "predeterminers", usable also as pronouns:

(1) Both June and Henry left.
(2) Both left.
(3) I didn't see any birds.
(4) I looked for the birds, but didn't see any.

_All_ can be replaced easily enough with things that are more obviously NPs
in apposition:

(5) Organization, tone, style, grammar and mechanics--all of
 them--factor into the grade.
(6) June and Henry both left.

I don't know what you're going to do with the fact that this kind of _all_
seems able to drift around the sentence a bit and can land in the middle of
a VP:

(7) We all must die.
(8) We must all die.

But probably real syntacticians already have all that figured out.

Hope this helps.


 From: "Leslie Z. Morgan" <MORGANLOYOLA.EDU>

In your message to *Linguist*, you omit one possibility
for the sentence
Organization, tone, style, grammar and mechanics all factor...

I would have construed "all" as the subject in apposition with
"Organization..." etc. (A pronoun, similar to the noun
in your dictionary citation.) All normally takes a plural
verb as you noticed in other examples with All as subject:

All came late. All wrote compositions that week... etc.

Perhaps my analysis comes from the Romance Languages where
Tutto/Tutti (Italian) and Tous (French) function as pronouns
in similar situations.

Tutti sono arrivati in orario. (Everyone/All arrived on time.)

Leslie Morgan
Dept. of Modern Langs. and Lits.
Loyola College in Md.



If someone hasn't already told you, _all_ is not an adjective. For one
thing, you can't compare it (all, aller, allest). Neither can you use
it in typical adjective position, between article and noun (the all
students). It must either precede the article (all the students) or
follow the noun -- but that's tricky, since it's one of the "quantifiers"
that goes floating away from its "natural" position.

 The students were all complaining.
 The students are all in bed.

Tradititional grammars are no help here. They have the mistaken belief
that there are only eight parts of speech (give or take a few -- you've
probably noticed that different "authorities" cannot agree), that there
are only two articles (there are actually a great deal more; linguists,
for reasons that I cannot fathom, generally prefer to call them
determiners), that the subject is the doer of the action (patently
untrue) or "what is being talked about" (even worse), etc. etc.

Best solution to your problem in teaching about _all_? (Note the lack
of a verb; not all sentences have one.) That _all_ is an entity
associated with a noun or pronoun but which (a) cannot stand between
article and noun and (b) can float away from the noun or pronoun with
which is is logically connected. *No traditional part of speech has these

Good luck. Teaching students the real grammar of English instead of the
junk they're taught in schools is a real challenge.

--Leo Connolly

P.S. Dictionaries are even less help than grammars. And I suppose you
noticed that one of my sentences above lacked a main clause? English is
not what traditional grammar says it is!



I couldn't work out from your posting to LINGUIST why you
though ALL was an adjective in the sentence you mentioned?
As you say, you couldn't think of any other adjectives
which happily substituted with it. My suspicion is that
ALL is not here an adjective (not least of all because
adjectives modify what follows, not what precedes,
in all but a few set expressions). Is this an answer
to your question? Another possibility is that a sentence
may be syntactically ambiguous i.e. parsable two ways.
Often this may be reflected in a difference in meaning,
but I don't know of any reason in principle why there shouldn't
exist two parses with the same meaning. In which case ALL
wouldn't really be simultaneously an adj and an adv, at least
not in one and the same parse.

A very thought-provoking posting ....


--- John Coleman


 From: John Nerbonne <>

Dowty & Brodie argue that this is a VP-modifying adverb. I don't have the
paper right here, but I think they adduced cases of its appearing in
VPs without adjacent or overt subjects, e.g.

 They have all voted
 They could have all voted.
 They didn't all agree.
 They seemed to all agree.

 author = {David Dowty and Belinda Brodie},
 title = {A Semantic Analysis of "Floated" Quantifiers
 in a Transformationless Grammar},
 booktitle = "Proc. of the 3rd West Coast Conference on
 Formal Linguistics",
 publisher = {Stanford Linguistics Association},
 address = {Stanford},
 editor = {M. Cobler and Suzanne MacKaye and Michael Wescoat},
 pages = {},
 year = {1984}

--John Nerbonne


 From: barrettZELIG.CS.NYU.EDU (Leslie Barrett)

Interesting topic,"all". It comes up alot in the linguistics biz with
regard to issues of scope. We often don't think so much about what part
of speech it reresents so much as how its structural position affects its
interpretation. I'll give you a couple of examples below:

1) We can't all have candy.
2) We all can't have candy.
3) They all left at once.
4) They left all at once.

The position in the sentence, as you can see, is important. Interpretations
vacillate between universally-quantified or existentially quantified
constituents. So in (1), for instance, the meaning is that some members
of the group will not get candy. In (2), however, the meaning is ambiguous
between the reading in (1), and the reading where no one gets candy. The
question relevent to us is why is "all" ambiguous in that particular position?
Similar issues arise with (3) and (4). Here, I would argue that (4), with the
quantifier in the lower position is the ambiguous one.

Anyway, you're probably wondering whether there's a connection between the
scope of "all" and the part of speech it represents. If you have any thoughts
on that, let me know. I'm not sure if any of this has been helpful, but I
hope so. Good luck!


Leslie Barrett (
New York University Linguistics Dept.


 From: Bruce Nevin <bnevinLightStream.COM>

Your example interested me because of some special requirements with

1. Organization, tone, style, grammar, and mechanics all factor into this.

Of course "all factor into this" is a sentence, as you came to recognize.
Less apparent, perhaps, is the status of the construction preceding the
verb "factor": it is an apposition of two subject noun phrases:

 NP1 = organization, tone, style, grammar, and mechanics
 NP2 = all [these things]

The square braces here indicate elision of informationally redundant
words. The elided phrase could be "all these", "all five", "all five
things", "all five items", etc. Here, "all" is clearly adjectival. The
elision of a redundant (low-information) head noun, leaving its modifier
appearing as though itself a nominal, is almost too familiar for special
note, as in:

2. He rode the chestnut, she the bay [horse].
 Which do you want, the red or the blue [one]?
 Bill is cutting the turkey. Do you want dark or light [meat]?
 God must love the poor [people]--he made so many [poor [people]].

For the apposition, compare:

3. In his mind's eye they were Athos, Pothos, and Aramis, the three musketeers.

This is exactly parallel the more familiar types of apposition with a
simple noun phrase (no conjunction), as in:

4. My friend the witch doctor, he told me what to say.

(Here, we actually have the pleonastic apposition of a pronoun, he, with
an apposition, my friend the witch doctor.)

Recognizing this as an apposition, we see that we can easily substitute
another (appropriate) nominal in place of "all [these contributors to
effective prose]", for example:

5. Organization, tone,
style, grammar, and mechanics these five elements factor into the grade
 [these] taken together

You need some kind of deictic like "these/those" or summation word like
"all, severally, taken together" for apposition with a conjunction.

You can also place an adverb like "severally" before "factor", but that
is independent of the apposed nominal (including "all"):

6. Organization, tone, style, grammar, and mechanics, all these things
 severally factor into the grade.

Clearly, "all" is not an adverb here, but rather is parallel to the other
nominal expressions that may occur in apposition to the conjunct noun phrase.

 Bruce Nevin


 From: Geoffrey Williams <>

I just wondered whether the reason your grammar checker flagged that sentence
as potentially bad was the use of 'factor' as a (n intransitive) verb. That's
a rather odd usage to my (British) English ears.

Geoff Williams, Linguistics Dept,
School of Oriental & African Studies,


 From: (Sebastian Shaumyan)

Question: Can a word function as more than one part of speech at the same

Yes it can. More than that: a sentence, as a part of another sentence (that is
as a clause) functions as a part of speech, and, on the other hand, a part
of speech may function as a sentence.

We must distinguish the primary function of a part of speech and a
number of qits secondary functions. For example, the primary function of an
adjective is
to serve as a modifier of a noun. But an adjective can also function as a
noun, as a verb, as an adverb, as a preposition, as a sentence--and these
are its secondary functions. Thus, in "The absent are always at fault",
the adjective "absent" functions as a noun. In "Uncommon pretty company"
the adjective "uncommon" functions as an adverb. In "This is umcommon"
this adjective combined with "is" functions as a verb (as a predicate, in
syntactic terms). In "We travelled round Europe" the adjective "round"
functions as a preposition. In the exclamatory sentence "Excellent", the
adjective excellent functions as a sentence.

As to "all", its primary function is to be a determiner as in "Not all
water is suitable for drinking". And it has secondary functions of a
a pronoun, of a noun, of an adverb--this explains your examples of "all".

The primary function of a word with their secondary functions constitute a
function hierarchy--a class of functions where secondary functions are
SUPERPOSED on the primary functions. "Superposed" means that the secondary
functions are assigned on top of the primary function of a word, that is,
a word that has taken on a secondary function retaines its properties defined
by its primary functions.

Principle of Superposition, which is a universal syntactic principle, says:

For all languages, each sentence part defined by its primary function
can take on the primary function of another sentence part as its secondary

The distinction between the primary function of a sentence part and its
secondary functions is defined by the Principle of Inverse Relation
between the Range and the Load of an Item:

The larger the range of an item, the smaller is its load, and, conversely,
the larger the load of an item, the smaller its range.

(A detailed discussion of the above concepts and principles, and how they
are applied to solve puzzling problems of ergative constructions, passive
constructions and other knotty questions faced by modern syntactic
theories is in my book A SEMIOTIC THEORY OF LANGUAGE, pp. 116-117, 129-45,

-Sebastian Shaumyan


Dear Ronald, after a few minutes' discussion all of us here in the
linguistics postgrad room in UCD came to the conclusion that in this
instance"all" is a floating quantifier, not an adj., adv. or anything
else, and is the head of a syntactic category, called QP(quantifier
phrase). Consequently,your complex subject is the complement of the
quantifier "all", the QP being the subject of the sentence. We are
not talking about adjectives or adverbs anymore. Quantifiers are a
totally different syntactic category.

Yours floatingly,
Shane, Fiona, Feargal and Carmen.



Dear Ron, on your query about `all',
This will only answer part of your (interesting) observations/question
but I'm pretty confident that it does answer that part.
1. I'd vote categorically (pun unintentional but hey why throw it out?)
against an item having two different syntactic values in the same sentence
(on a single constructional reading), but....
2. there are certainly cases where a single item syntactically
qualifies one thing, but applies to a different thing for
interpretation. A lot of examples in Chaps 3 - 5 of
C.Ferris *The Meaning of Syntax...* Longman, New York, 1993


 From: (Laurie Bauer)

I have trouble because you don't seem to be using sufficient labels for
parts of speech. In your sentence (which I didn't copy, sorry) I would
take _all_ to be a displaced predeterminer. _The children all came_ = _All
the children came_ but has a rather different information structure, and so
is more useful when it summarises a bunch of things.
Can something be two things at once? Yes, I think so. Or at least, it can
be more or less something. J.R. Ross had a famous article on this :The
Category Squish: Endstation Hauptwort where he talks about eg nouniness.
Sorry, I can't recall the precise reference. In _Eating fruit is good for
you_ eating is part verb (it has an object) but part noun (it is the main
word in a subject).
Department of Linguistics, Victoria University, PO Box 600, Wellington, New
Ph: +64 4 472 1000 x 8800 Fax: +64 4 471 2070

end of responses

Until later,


Ronald L. Stone : : (612) 644-9706
 graduate student : Scientific & Technical Communication
 Department of Rhetoric : University of Minnesota, St. Paul
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