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What part of speech is "Something smells fishy?"

 
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Manny3



Joined: 22 Jan 2005
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 12:46 pm    Post subject: What part of speech is "Something smells fishy?" Reply with quote

I'm in the middle of doing an assignment for class and wanted to know the part of speech for "Something smells fishy?" Is an idiomatic expression a part of speech?
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3003
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The whole is a clause (in fact, a simple sentence) with three parts of speech: a noun (functioning as Subject, or S for short), a copula(BE)-like 'linking verb' (you can call this function simply 'Verb', or V for short), and an adjective (functioning as Complement (~ to the verb and here the Subject that precede it), or C for short). The fact that it might (or might not!) be an 'idiomatic expression' has nothing really to do with (its) parts of speech or its holistic versus potentially part-only nature. Consider: This smells (said of some milk that is going off), which is to say that about the only thing potentially idiomatic (non-literal) in the phrase 'be/smell fishy', 'This smells fishy' etc is the adjective 'fishy' (see my reply to your other thread here: http://forums.eslcafe.com/teacher/viewtopic.php?p=42235#42235 , regarding the figurative use/meaning-extension of this adjective from literal smell to describing a situation as somehow "off"). But I suppose that if one said something stronger e.g. (of a situation) This STINKS! then the (stronger) verb almost alone could be said to be somewhat more idiomatic in and of itself.

[And just to be clear, a clause isn't a part of speech (POSs are what make up such bigger units!), but clauses (plural) in more complex sentences (i.e. sentences with more than one clause in them) can assume grammatical functions. If you want to know more about this stuff, buy a book that explains how words build up into phrases, clauses, and sentences i.e. that explains 'parsing', such as Leech et al's English Grammar for Today, or take at least a quick look at threads such as http://forums.eslcafe.com/teacher/viewtopic.php?p=40930#40930
and http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?t=72006 Wink ].
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