A Linguistics Glossary

actant – “the elements in a clause that identify the participants in a process, etc, referred to by a verb. Thus in French and English, a subject, direct object, and indirect object.” (Matthews)


argument – “any syntactic element seen as required by a verb: e.g. love takes two arguments, represented by she and me in She loves me. Thence generally of elements required by words of other categories: e.g. the adjective happy has the argument she in She is happy.” (Matthews)

element – “a basic or indivisible unit at some level of analysis or representation.” (Matthews)




valency – “the range of syntactic elements either required or specifically permitted by a verb or other lexical unit.” (Matthews)