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The origin of the word


SYNTAX Greek >>>> a setting out together /

arrangement of elements in the linear structure of the sentence System of rules and principles that allows us to combine words into larger units. Eg: 1. The girl goes on many long walks. 2. The girl walks the dogs. Noun ? Verb ? >>> the position of a word in the sentence determines the syntactic category (parts of speech/wc)

Words can be grouped / combined in certain ways

>>>>sentence are not simply flat strings of words. They have some kind of internal structure pretty strong intuitions

Distinguish simple, compound and complex sentences in

analysis of texts.

Features of simple sentences

Patterns or structures in English SV SVO SVOO SVC SVA SVOC SVOA

Features of compound sentences Features of complex sentences


Knowledge of sentences & their


Grammatical or Ungrammatical?
a) The boy found the ball. b) The boy found quickly. c) The boy found in the house. d) The boy found the ball in the house. e) Disa slept the baby. f ) Disa slept soundly. g) Sue believes Rob to be a good man. h) Sue believes to be a good man. i ) Zack tries Matt to be a gentleman. j ) Zack tries to be a gentleman.

Grammatical or Ungrammatical?

How do you come to the

conclusion? Can you identify some of the rules in the sentences?

Judgments of Grammaticality
determined by syntactic rules of

grammar the rules are shared by the speakers of the language. the speakers have unconscious knowledge of the rules

So what are syntactic rules?

It must account for:

2. 3.

the speakers ability to produce & understand an infinite number of sentences the grammaticality of sentences the ambiguity (presence of more meaning) of sentences

1. Syntactic Rules Account for the Creative Aspect of Language


kind-hearted boy had many girlfriends. The kind-hearted, intelligent boy had many girlfriends. The kind-hearted, intelligent, handsome boy had many girlfriends.
Can you produce even longer sentences?

2. Syntactic Rules Determine Order of Words

Words in a sentence occur in a certain linear order. Every sentence is a string of words, but is every string of words a sentence?
k) l ) m) n) The girl loves the cat. Girl the loves cat the. Loves the girl the cat. The girl cat the loves.

2. Syntactic Rules Determine Order of Words - cont

o) She has what a man wants. p) She wants what a man has. q) The large spider frightened Aunt Meg. r) Aunt Meg frightened the large spider.

The meaning of a sentence depends largely on the

order in which words occur in a sentence.

3. Syntactic Rules Determine Grammatical Relations

E.g. the relation between subject &


direct object & how they are understood in a sentence.

hired Bill. Bill hired Mary Bill was hired by Mary Kill Bill Kill, Bill Bill was killed by someone.

3. Syntactic Rules Determine Grammatical Relations cont.

Whether Different Structures Have Differing

Meanings or the Same Meaning

The Chief Justice swore in the new President. The Chief Justice swore the new President in. The child found the puppy. The puppy found the child. The puppy was found by the child.

4. Syntactic rules determine the order of words in a sentence, & how the words are grouped
Divide the sentence into sub-groups. The girl loves the cat

(The girl) (loves the cat) (The girl) (loves) (the cat)

Natural groupings of a sentence is called constituents. Reflects the speakers intuitions about the natural

groupings of words in sentence A sentence can be viewed as having a hierarchical structure made up of constituents of varying sizes. The structure can be represented as a tree structure.

A Tree Diagram
The girl loves the cat

The girl
The girl

loves the cat loves The the cat cat


Compare these sentences

I suddenly remembered something.

I suddenly remembered that I had an appointment.

Your failure is most regrettable.

That you failed the exam is most regrettable.

The police questioned every local resident.

The police questioned every person who lived in the


A clause is a group of words containing a subject

and predicate and used as part of a sentence.

Independent clauses can stand alone and make complete sense. An independent clause written with a capital letter at the beginning and a period at the end is a simple sentence.

The couple dances. subject (S) verb (V)

Sentence Structure: Dependent Clauses (Subordinate Clauses)

Dependent clauses help to clarify and add detail to

an independent clause. Dependent clauses may appear at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence. Dependent clauses cannot stand alone.

Types of Subordinate Clauses

There are three types of subordinate clauses: adjective clauses

subordinate clause modifies a noun or pronoun subordinate clause modifies a verb, adjective or another adverb subordinate clause functions as subject, object, predicate nominative, etc.

adverb clauses

noun clauses

Adjective Clause
An adjective clause is a subordinate clause that

modifies a noun or pronoun.

The house where he was born has been made a national shrine. (adj. clause modifies house) She is one who earned her honours. (adj. clause modifies one) The assignment, which I did last week, received a grade of A+. (adj. clause modifies assignment)

Adjective Clause (AdjC)

[S+V/] that acts like an adjective

Example: The story [that I[that am reading] is sad. I am reading]

relative pronoun

This entire clause acts like an adjective, so it is an adjective clause.

AdjCs follow nouns Often start with relative pronouns

Relative Pronoun
Many subordinate adjective clauses begin with a

relative pronoun. The most common relative pronouns: That Which Who Whom Whose

She didnt recognize the man who had spoken. K. Kangsar is the town that Bala came from.

The relative pronoun can be omitted if the clause

has another noun to serve as the subject

Nearly all the people I used to know have gone.

Adjective Clause
Two kinds of relative clause:
Restrictive vs. Non-restrictive Defining vs. Non-defining

Defining Adjective Clause

Explain which person or thing you are talking about.

I met the woman.

I met the woman who lives next door. Shortly after the robbery, the man died.

Shortly after the robbery, the man who had done it


Defining vs. Non-defining

The people who work in my office are so uptight! S essential phrase V
Without the essential phrase, this sentence does

not make complete sense : The people are so uptight!

Defining vs. Non-defining

The rendang that I had at Jahs was much better

than this one! S


The word that is almost always an indicator

of an essential clause.

Defining vs. Non-defining

A non-defining clause adds extra information to a

sentence. This information can be eliminated from the sentence without jeopardizing the meaning of the sentence. Always place commas around non-defining clauses.

Defining vs. Non-defining

My brother, who lives across town, plans to throw a party! S non-essential V

Even without the phrase the sentence still makes

sense : My brother plans to throw a party!

Defining vs. Non-defining

Steve said that he would propose to me on Valentines Day, which is my favorite holiday! S V non-essential

Defining vs. Non-defining

Our two daughters, Hani and Ana, were born in

Penang. (non-defining) Our daughter Hani lives in Kedah. (assuming we have more than one daughter) Our daughter, Hani, lives in Kedah. (assuming we have only one daughter)

Noun Clause (NC)

[S+V/] that acts like a noun

Example: I think [you are sick]. S V O I think [you are sick].
Objects are nouns; this entire clause acts like a singular noun, so it is a noun clause.

Noun Clause
A noun clause is a subordinate clause used as a

noun. A noun clause may begin with an indefinite relative pronoun: that, what, whatever, who, which, whoever, whichever. A noun clause may begin with an indefinite relative adjective: whose, which, whichever. A noun clause may begin with an indefinite relative adverb: where, when, how, etc.

Functions of noun clause

subject object object of preposition complement

Noun Clause: As Subject

That it snowed surprised me.

Noun Clause: As Subject Complement

The question was how to cross

the bridge.

Noun Clause: As Object of Preposition

You give the drum to whoever

wants it.

Noun Clause: As Direct Object

The boys know that reading is


Noun Clause: As Indirect Object

Sally told whoever was nearby

her story about the fish.

Adverb Clause
An adverb clause is a subordinate clause that

modifies a verb, an adjective, or an adverb.

She plays golf as though she was in a hurry. [how] She plays golf whenever she can.[when] She plays golf wherever she travels.[where] She plays golf because she enjoys it.[why] She plays golf if the weather permits.[under what conditions]

Adverb Clause
Adverb clauses may also modify adjectives and other


She is confident that she will win.[modifies adjective confident] He played better than I did. [modifies adverb better]

Adverb Clause
A conjunction that begins an adverb clause is

called a subordinating conjunction. It joins the clause to the rest of the sentence and establishes the relationship between the clause and the main sentence. Common subordinating conjunctions include after, although, because, before, if, since, than, though, unless, until, when, where, whether, while, etc.

Adverb Clause
[S+V] that acts like an adverb

[After we drove to the mall] , we looked for a

This clause gives information about how or why the action happened, so it acts like an adverb.


When and Where

The words when and where are quite

versatile. They can introduce noun clauses.


I buy my groceries) is my business. (nominalsubject) I like (where I buy my groceries). (nominaldirect object)

When and Where

They can also introduce adverb and

adjective clauses.

is shopping (where I buy my groceries). (adverbmodifies is shopping) The store (where I buy my groceries) is Seng Hup. (adjectivemodifies store)

Non-finite Clauses



A group of words consisting of an infinitive and all

the words related to it. An infinitive usually begins with to.

to speak
(the infinitive)

Infinitive Clause
My teachers wish to climb Mount Kinabalu could


The girls like to study hard. The trick was to carry the egg slowly.

To snow hard is a wonder.

Participial Clause
Definition: a group of words consisting of a

participle and words related to it (present ends in ing; past ends in -ed or -en)

Participial Clause: Examples (present and past)

Tapping my foot, I looked out the window with longing.

Filled with anger, the woman stormed into the building.

Types of Sentences
Classified by structure, there are three kinds of

Simple: one independent clause, no subordinate clauses. Compound: two independent clauses, no subordinate clauses. Complex: one independent clause, at least one subordinate clause.

The Simple Sentence

One independent clause, no subordinate clauses.

A clause which can stand alone as a sentence has a

subject and a verb. It may also have other elements: an object, a complement, or an adverbial. Each element plays its part in the structure of a clause.

Basic Clause structure: SV

Ive eaten.

My head aches.

Basic Clause structure: SVO

Majid has several cats.

The elephant destroyed the plantations.

Basic Clause structure: SVC

Kerry is clever.

Kerry is a teacher.

Basic Clause structure: SVA

The games ended yesterday.

The kids were playing in the field.

Basic Clause structure: SVOO

They gave Sam a pen.

We should give the kids some money.

Other verbs like give, combining with to, are: lend

offer pass pay sell take write He explained the situation to me. Similarly: announce, describe, introduce


Basic Clause structure: SVOO

They bought Sam a pen.

They bought a pen for Sam.

Other verbs like buy, combining with for, are:

choose, cook, do, fetch, get, keep, order, save

Basic Clause structure: SVOC

They made Sam chairman.

The project kept everyone very busy.

The group made Simon their spokesman.

Similarly: appoint, call, label, name, vote

Basic Clause structure: SVOA

I put my credit card in my handbag.

The police got the car out of the ravine.

Compound Sentence
A compound sentence contains two independent clauses that are joined together.
She works in the city, but she lives in the suburbs.

Independent Clause

Independent Clause

Compound Sentence
You can make a compound sentence by joining two logically related independent clauses by using - a semicolon - a coordinating conjunction

Using a Semicolon
Independent Clause ; Independent Clause

I love living in the city ; there are so many things to do.

Independent Clause

Independent Clause

Using a Coordinating Conjunction

Independent Clause , coordinating conjunction Independent Clause

He couldnt watch the show , so he decided to tape it.

Independent Clause

Independent Clause

Coordinating Conjunctions
Logical Relationship Addition Contrast Choice Cause Result And But, yet Or, nor For So Coordinating Conjunction

Another way to remember these is


Nor But

Yet So


Complex Sentences
A complex sentence contains at least one independent clause and one dependent clause. John cannot set up his typewriter
Independent Clause

because the wall has no outlet.

Subordinating Conjunction
Dependent Clause

Example- Complex Sentence

A complex sentence contains at least one independent clause and one dependent clause. She will go to school in the city
Independent Clause

until she finds a job.

Subordinating Conjunction Dependent Clause

Subordinate Clauses
Adjective/Relative/Adjectival a subordinate (or dependent) clause that functions as adjective (tells more about the noun) Noun

a subordinate (or dependent) clause that functions as noun (as subject, direct object, indirect object, subject complement, object of preposition, or appositive)

Adverb a subordinate (or dependent) clause that functions as adverb (tells when, why, how, where, under what condition)

Subordinating Conjunctions
Subordinating conjunctions introduce

subordinate clauses, which are clauses that cannot stand by themselves as a complete thought.

The subordinate conjunction connects a

subordinate clause to an independent clause, which can stand by itself.

Ex. We will go whale watching if we have


List of Subordinating Conjunctions

After As

As long as
As soon as Before

Time Since Until When Whenever While

Purpose In order that So that That

List of Subordinating Conjunctions

As As if As

Cause Because

Comparison As Than


Subordinating Conjunctions of Condition

Although As long as

Even though If

Though Unless

Even if

Provided that


Complex Example
Although she worked hard to gain recognition, many people did not know who she was.
Although she worked hard to gain recognition and who she was are dependent clauses because they begin with the subordinating conjunction although and the indefinite relative pronoun who .

Many people did not know would be an independent clause, therefore making the sentence a complex sentence.

Lets try an exercise

On a scrap piece of paper, identify the following types of sentences:

1. Living in Kuala Lumpur was one of the best experiences that Carol had during college.
2. Although the volcano erupted long ago, the collapsed mountaintop formed a lake bed that is still hot.

3. I have always looked forward to my mid-term break.

4. Noorie plays basketball on Saturdays, and she goes fishing on Sundays.

1. Living in Kuala Lumpur was one of the best experiences that Carol had during college.
This is a complex sentence:
Living in Kuala Lumpur was one of the best experiences =

independent clause
That Carol had during college = dependent clause

2. Although the volcano erupted long ago, the collapsed mountaintop formed a lake bed that is still hot. Complex sentence: Although the volcano erupted long ago = dependent clause
The collapsed mountaintop formed a lake bed = independent clause. That is still hot = dependent clause.

3. I have always looked forward to my midterm break.

Simple Sentence: I have always looked forward to my mid-term break = independent clause.

4. Noorie plays basketball on Saturdays, and she goes fishing on Sundays.

Compound sentence: Noorie plays basketball on Saturdays = independent clause. And = coordinating conjunction She goes fishing on Sundays = independent clause.

The Sentence Fragment

A sentence fragment consists of one or all of the following: Dependent clause


In other words, if the sentence does not contain at least one independent clause, it is a fragment.

Fragment Examples
Because I was quite happy.
This is a fragment: It has only one dependent clause.

The boy with the round face.

This is also a fragment: It consists of only a phrase(s).

Tutorial Task
Analyse two pieces of authentic text (e.g. an

instruction leaflet, and a short narrative piece) for sentence-types.

The end