3

What part of speech is i.e. ?

If translated it means "that is", so a sentence like

I like citrus fruits, i.e., the juicy, edible fruits with leathery, aromatic rinds.

(from https://www.dictionary.com/e/ie-vs-eg/)

can be rewritten to

I like citrus fruits, that is, the juicy, edible fruits with leathery, aromatic rinds.

It sounds like a subordinating complementizer to me in this case, equivalent to

I like citrus fruits, which are juicy, edible fruits with leathery, aromatic rinds.

introducing the non-restrictive relative clause which are juicy, edible fruits with leathery, aromatic rinds.

Does that mean that in the original sentence:

I like citrus fruits, i.e., the juicy, edible fruits with leathery, aromatic rinds.

i.e. is a complementizer that introduces the non-restrictive relative clause i.e., the juicy, edible fruits with leathery, aromatic rinds? Is i.e. both the verb of the subclause and its C-head at the same time?

Or should i.e. be treated like a preposition in syntactic analysis? (I couldn't find a way to replace it with a preposition in the sentence).

1
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 2:40

1 Answer 1

7

Id est is a Latin phrase, and as it lacks the ability to take modifiers or dependents of any kind, it is difficult (and largely pointless) to categorize it as a part of speech - especially if we expect part of speech classifications to tell us about the form of the item in question, describing its internal structure and possible dependents.

The relevant question to ask is what function it has in this clause. Its function is that of indicator in a supplement with the anchor citrus fruits; the same function could also be performed by an adverb or a preposition phrase.

I like citrus fruits, [i.e., the juicy, edible fruits with leathery, aromatic rinds].

I like citrus fruits, [namely, the juicy, edible fruits with leathery, aromatic rinds].

I like citrus fruits, [in other words, the juicy, edible fruits with leathery, aromatic rinds].

Indicators generally serve to clarify the nature of the supplement's semantic relation to the anchor.

9
  • We could say that since the NPs are of the specifying kind, they qualify as appositives.
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 10:25
  • Are there other names for "supplements" and "indicators of supplements"? I've not heard of these before. Are supplements a type of adjunct? So i.e., the juicy, edible fruits ... is an adjunct of citrus fruits ? Is it correct to consider your second two examples of supplements to be adverbial phrases? Is i.e., the juicy, edible fruits ... also an adverbial phrase?
    – minseong
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 16:09
  • 1
    @theonlygusti Yes: supplements are adjuncts (note though that they are not modifiers). All the expressions in brackets are noun phrases serving as supplementary appositives. The elements in bold are simply indicators. I think DW256 will agree with that.
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 16:42
  • 3
    @theonlygusti The NPs are supplements to the NP "citrus fruits". Elements like "i.e.", "namely", "viz" etc. are not adverbial but simply indicators, which are similar to coordinators in that they link the elements together in the construction.
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 17:03
  • 2
    @theonlygusti No: they are different constructions. "I like [citrus fruits], and [the juicy, edible fruits with leathery, aromatic rinds]" consists of the coordination of two NPs linked with "and", where the second NP is integrated into the clause. Supplements are not integrated into clause structure, but stand as non-integrated elements outside the main structure. In these example they serve as supplementary appositives,
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 17:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.