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Constituents of the sentence

A sentence is composed of words. The construction of a sentence shows that there is an intermediate level between the words and the sentence. This intermediate level can be found by changing the word order, and by substituting words for other words:

Changing word order:

Der Chef     fährt    heute    nach Basel. 
Heute fährt der Chef     nach Basel.
Nach Basel    fährt  der Chef     heute.

Substituting words:

Der Chef     fährt     heute   nach Basel.
Der Chef     fährt     schnell  nach Basel.
Der Angestellte  fährt  heute nach Basel.
Der Chef  fährt  heute dorthin.
Der Chef reist heute nach Basel.

An element that can change its position and be substituted in this way, is called a "constituent of the sentence". The examples show that a constituent can consist of one or more words, and that a constituent can be represented by words of different word classes.

The constituents are described under the following topics:

Functional classification  What kinds of constituents are there?
Formal classification Words of which word classes can be constituents?

See also:
Phrases How are phrases constructed?

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