shape of the parse trees that represent the structure of sentences
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Branching is a term in linguistics. It refers to the way a phrase or sentence is made up. There is a head word and various other words to make the phrase or sentence.

Examples Edit

Most languages make phrases with a head word and dependents (modifiers). These examples show the phrase heads in bold.

Examples of left-branching phrases (= head-final phrases):

the house - Noun phrase (NP)
very happy - Adjective phrase (AP)
too slowly - Adverb phrase (AdvP)

Examples of right-branching phrases (= head-initial phrases):

laugh loudly - Verb phrase (VP)
with luck - Prepositional phrase (PP)
that it happened - Subordinator phrase (SP = subordinate clause)

Example of phrases that contain both left- and right-branching (= head-medial phrases):

the house there - Noun phrase (NP)
very happy with it - Adjective phrase (AP)
only laugh loudly - Verb phrase (VP)

Most structures in English are, however, not completely left- or completely right-branching, but rather they combine both. The following trees show a combination of left- and right-branching in English:


There are more right-branching structures than left-branching structures in English. This means that trees usually grow down to the right.