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Attribute

 
 
An attribute is a word or group of words that qualifies another word, i.e. it restricts or adds to the sense of the other word:

Heftiger Regen, eine süße Nachspeise, das Haus meiner Eltern,
ziemlich
interessant, sehr bald

Extension of the head of a phrase 
Attribute vs constituent


Extension of the head of a phrase

An attribute qualifies another word, i.e. it restricts or adds to the sense of the other word. Attributes are extensions of the head of a phrase (see Phrases).

Attributes qualifying a noun are the most frequent attributes:

Noun phrase
Determiner Attribute Head
der fleißige Student
die zehn Meter breite Straße
Determiner Head Attribute
das  Haus meiner Eltern

Attributes qualify also words belonging to other word classes (except verbs). For example:

Adjective phrase
Attribute Head
der  äußerst  fleißige  Student
die zehn Meter   breite Straße

Adverb phrase
Attribute   Head
kurz vorher
Head Attribute
dort hinter der Tür 

For more information see:

Noun phrase
Pronoun phrase
Adjective phrase
Participle phrase
Adverb phrase
Prepositional phrase 


Attribute vs constituent

A constituent is a component of a sentence that can change its position in the sentence (see Constituent). An attribute is a component of a constituent. It can change its position only together with the head of the constituent:

Der alte Mann 
hütet    die Kinder seines jüngsten Sohns.
Die Kinder seines jüngsten Sohns 
hütet  der alte Mann.
 
not:
Der alte hütet Mann die Kinder seines jüngsten Sohns.
not:
Seines jüngsten Sohns  hütet  der alte Mann die Kinder.

The two word groups
  • der alte Mann
  • die Kinder seines jüngsten Sohns
are complex constituents of the sentence. They each consist of a group of words that can change its position in the sentence. The heads of the constituents are Mann and Kinder:
Mann hütet Kinder.
The words and the word group
  • der, alte
  • die, seines jüngsten Sohns
are extensions or attributes of the head. They cannot change their position in the sentence independently from the head.







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