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Immediate Constituent analysis analyses each utterance into the smallest meaningful units possible. In this model, we begin by cutting the sentence into two natural divisions, and each is again cut into two. This process of binary segmentation continues until we reach the smallest meaningful units, morphemes at the morphological level, and words at the syntactic level. These units at the last level are called the ultimate constituents.

IC analysis helps us to discover how units are hierarchically layered in sentences, with each lower-level unit or constituent being part of a higher-level construction. Thus, a phrase or sentence (called a construction) is broken into successive layers, each consisting of two constituents of the closest relationship.

Different methods are used for showing the immediate constituents. Some of these are given below.

Segmentation using vertical lines

Segmentation using brackets

Segmentation using a tree diagram

A sentence can also be represented by labelling various constituents. These labels are categorical or formal, indicating the category to which each constituent belongs. Functional labels like subject, predicate, object, etc. can label the constituents. NP, VP, N, etc., are categorical or formal labels. Functional labels can show the relationships among the constituents, which formal labels cannot. An NP, for instance, can function as a subject or object. In terms of the functions of the constituents, constructions can be grouped into five types.

Structure of Coordination

In this case, the ICs in question are presented as coordinates. The structure of coordination consists of independent unit + coordinator + independent unit.

In this type of construction, we have non-binary cuts.

Structure of Predication

Predication is the relationship between a subject and a verb. A simple sentence has a single predication. A compound sentence has two or more predications connected by the structure of coordination. The structure of predication consists of subject + predicate.

Structure of Modification

Modification is the grammatical tie between an adjective and its noun or a verb and its adverb. The structure of modification consists of a modifier + head (noun).

Structure of Subordination

This structure consists of a subordinator + dependent unit. This can consist of a preposition and its object, a subordinating conjunction and its clause, or a relative pronoun and its clause.

Structure of Complementation

Complementation has to do with the completion of the meaning of a verb. It consists of verbal + complement. Complementation can occur with a direct object, indirect object, objective complement, etc.

The constituents can also be labelled as belonging to different grammatical constituents like noun phrases, verb phrases, adverbial and prepositional phrases.