The book is a hit.

I'll classify the as a determiner, and parse it as an adjective modifying book.

Is that correct?

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    No, its word category is "determinative" and its function is "determiner". Note the difference in the spelling. Determiners don't modify; their job is to mark an NP as definite or indefinite, "the" being of the former kind. Here's a link that explains: link – BillJ Nov 5 '16 at 14:13
  • Thanks BillJ, that was a great authoritative link. I'm not a grammarian and don't want to be but I'm a descriptionist in spirit. That is one reason to use Huddleston's. – learner Nov 5 '16 at 14:59

I'll classify the as a determiner, and parse it as an adjective modifying book.

I'm afraid this combines two opposed schools of analysis. The may be categorized as a "determiner"; but if you're going to employ that analysis you cannot also parse it as an "adjective". Traditional grammar tended to regard "articles" as a subclass of "adjectives"; but modern grammarians who employ the term determiner categorize determiners and adjectives in different classes.

Indeed, there are many modern grammarians who claim that determiners are not dependents of the noun at all but lie outside the noun phrase; these grammarians identify the "NP" as the constituent composed of the bare noun and its dependent adjectivals and call the combination of this NP with a determiner a "DP" or "determiner phrase", indicating that the "head" of the phrase is not the noun but the determiner.

My own take on this controversy is that the "determiner" (more precisely the "DP", since the determiner function may be realized as a string of words) is a complement to the core NP: syntactically, internally to the clause, it is a dependent of the NP's head, but pragmatically, beyond the clause boundary, it acts to locate the NP within the discourse context.

  • +1 Not straightforward with the all the jargon and the controversy, but it is a good start from where the research will take off. It'll save me some time being aware of the issue. Thanks StoneyB. – learner Nov 5 '16 at 13:39
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    @learner English linguistics has been evolving very rapidly for 60 years now, and it's hard for even specialists to keep up with the theories, much less ordinary teachers and learners. Unless you're planning on becoming a teacher of English linguistics, you'll do better to pick one reasonably authoritative source and stick to that; browsing around at random will be very confusing. Better still: don't worry about the formal grammar, just read lots of good books on other subjects and absorb the grammar the way native speakers do. – StoneyB on hiatus Nov 5 '16 at 13:48
  • I'm thinking of one of Huddleston's books, the big as reference (not available in print form around here) or the student's version. If not, a book from the same school of linguists/descriptionists. My target is a good high school level in both grammar/composition and literature. As for English itself, I know there's no way to learning any natural language, but "living it" as its native speakers. Thanks StoneyB. – learner Nov 5 '16 at 15:18

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