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Patterns of combinability





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§ 232. Numerals combine mostly with nouns and function as their attributes, usually as premodifying attributes. If a noun has several premodifying attributes including a cardinal or an ordinal, these come first, as in:

three tiny green leaves, seven iron men, the second pale little boy, etc.

 

The only exception is pronoun determiners, which always begin a series of attributes:

his second beautiful wife; these four rooms; her three little children; every second day, etc.

If both a cardinal and an ordinal refer to one head-nounthe ordinal comes first:

the first three tall girls, the second two grey dogs, etc.

 

Nouns premodified by ordinals are used withthe definite article:

The first men in the moon, the third month, etc.

 

When used with the indefinite article, they lose their numerical meaning and acquire that of a pronoun (another, one more), as in:

a second man entered, then a third

(вошел еще один человек, потом еще).

 

Postmodifying numerals combine with a limited number of nouns. Postmodifying cardinals are combinable with some nouns denoting items of certain sets of things:

pages, paragraphs, chapters, parts of books, acts and scenes of plays, lessons in textbooks, apartments

and rooms, buses or trams (means of transport), grammatical terms, etc.;

room two hundred and three, page ten, bus four, participle one, etc.

 

Note:

 

In such cases the cardinals have a numbering meaning and thus differ semantically from the ordinals which have an enumerating meaning. Enumeration indicates the order of a thing in a certain succession of things, while numbering indicates a number constantly attached to a thing either in a certain succession or in a certain set of things. Thus, the first room (enumeration) is not necessarily room one (numbering), etc. Compare:

the first room I looked into was room five,

or

the second page that he read was page twenty-three, etc.

 

Postmodifying ordinals occur in combinations with certain proper names, mostly those denoting the members of well-known dynasties:

King Henry VIII - King Henry the Eighth,

Peter I - Peter the First, etc.

 

Mind the position of the article in such phrases. It is always attached to the numeral.

When used as substitutes numerals combinewith various verbs:

I saw five of them. They took twenty.

As head-words modified by other words numerals are combinable with:

 

1) prepositional phrases:

the first of May, one of the men, two of them, etc.

 

2) pronouns:

every three days, all seven, each fifth, etc.

 

3) adjectives:

the best three of them, the last two weeks, etc.

 

4) particles:

just five days ago, only two, only three books, he is nearly sixty, etc.

Note:

 

The numeral first may combine with the particlevery:

the very first of them.

 

When they have the function of subject or predicative the numerals are combinable with link verbs, generally the verbto be:

ten were present, the first was my father we are seven, she is the second.

Occasionally they are combinable with some other link verbs:

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