This paper aims to demonstrate that there is no adequate treatment of adjectives in NP in English, and attempts to remedy this. The central problem is to account for the syntactic and semantic differences between prenominal and postnominal adjectival constructions as in (i)–(iv):
(i) the navigable river
(ii) the rivers navigable
(iii) *the navigable by boat rivers
(iv) the rivers navigable by boat
Existing treatments are reviewed, and a novel analysis proposed whereby the structures in (ii) and (iv) are normal syntactic N-AP structures, but prenominally, adjectives form what we call ‘small’ syntactic constructions (X° constructions, with X° daughters) which have some properties in common with lexical/morphological constructions. If the analysis is right, it poses a serious challenge to the view that there is a strict separation of lexical and syntactic aspects of grammar: grammatical theory should recognize a kind of construction which is neither fully syntactic nor fully lexical, but has properties of both.