The structure of the prepositional phrase is:Continue reading “Prepositional Phrases”
Click me to correct your grammar, sonny.
Ever thought there might be something missing from our understanding of the universe? Ever thought there may be some extra dimension curled up, hidden away right in front of us? What if language was that dimension, a fifth dimension in the fabric of the universe which unfurls itself whenever we think, speak or write?Continue reading “It’s language, stupid! (New book by Michael Cribb.)”
The Grammar family has been around for as long as this sentence has. The family is headed by Grandma Syntax and her younger sister, Minnie Morphology.Continue reading “Welcome to the Grammar family”
When we speak, we tend to speak in ‘chunks’ – small groups of words. Each chunk has its own change in intonation and there is usually a brief pause before the next chunk. We call these chunks ‘tone units’ and these units appears to be one of the basic building blocks of speech. A tone unit is the minimum unit of speech which can carry intonation. It is typically a few words in length but can be a single word or syllable. Other terms for this unit are ‘intonational unit’ or ‘foot group’.
Finite verb phrases (VP) in English have one, and only one, verb which carries the tense. This is always the first verb in the VP. To illustrate, look at how the tense shifts from verb to verb in the following and how the other verbs need to take on tenseless (non-finite forms).
Consider the following text by a student of English. What problems does it have with the clause structure? How would you correct this text and what feedback would you give the student?
I heard an interesting little neologism today in a meeting when someone misheard the word ‘ungrammatical’ for ‘angrammatical’. The neologism has quite a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Maybe a blend along the lines of ‘anger about some misuse of grammar’ as some people like to be. Continue reading “‘angrammatical’”
Students sometimes get confused with the terms ‘phonetics’ and ‘phonology’. What is the difference between the two?
Verb phrases can be finite or non-finite. Finite forms show tense distinction in the first verb of the phrase and person-number agreement with the subject in some cases. Non-finite forms occur with the infinitive fronted by the to participle, the -ing form and the -en form. Eg: Continue reading “Finite and non-finite verb phrases (VP)”
A constituent is a unit or a part of something. A sentence can be divided into parts, its constituents. For example the following can be divided into three phrases: Continue reading “Grammatical Terminology”
Divide the following sentence into three parts:
The man was using an electric drill
“two tall teenagers who have left”
How would you describe the phrase above using the metalanguage of grammar? Here is a sample.
Pitch Dynamism Quotient is a measure of the variation a speaker has in the pitch of their voice over a length of speech. It can be considered as a measure of the ‘liveliness’ (Hincks, 2004) a speaker puts into their voice when making an oral presentation.
When making an oral presentation, a skilled presenter will use the full pitch range in order to structure and segment their monologue. Pitch can be useful in a presentation to highlight, among other things, the division of the talk into spoken paragraphs (paratones). Less skilled presenters often use a narrower pitch range which gives them less headroom in which to show these divisions.
See a full grammatical analysis of a text using Prezie in a new way which allows for infinite zoom and scroll. Continue reading “Prezie Grammar Analysis”
The Verb Phrase (VP) consists of a main (lexical) verb with, optionally, a number of auxillary verbs in front.
- (AUX) VERB
- e.g. He might have been watching me
A Noun Phrase consists of a head noun, and optionally a determiner, some pre-modification and post-modification. Here is an analysis of a text to show you how to identify noun phrases.
“swathes of the country” is a noun phrase (NP).
It is considered to be a partitive construction. Partitive constructions indicate a part of a whole. In this case the whole is ‘the country’ and ‘swathes of’ indicates a part of the whole.
Chinese (Mandarin) has four different tones numbered 1 to 4: high level, rising, fall-rise and falling. These tones are often shown on the top of the vowel in the Pinyin systems for writing Chinese (eg. mā to indicate high level tone).
Tone in Chinese has a lexical function in that it can change the meaning of the word. (Unlike English where tone usually only shows attitude). So for example, the word ‘ma’ can actually have four different meanings depending on the tone that it is uttered with. Continue reading “Tone in Chinese”
Structure of the Clause
What is a clause?
All languages are able to talk about ‘things’. That is, we can talk about things such as dogs, chairs, democracy, etc. And all languages are able to say what happened to these things or what state they are in. That is, we can say something is barking, are broken, is vital. Thus at the heart of language we have a system which consists of things that we talk about (the subject) and states or actions that we ascribe to the thing (the predicate). Continue reading “Clauses”
Punctuation is the use of small typographical symbols ( . , ; : ) to segment and conjoin textual items at the morphological, lexical, phrasal and clausal level. Grammar is enabled through good punctuation and punctuation is mollified with correct grammar. Hence punctuation is an important part of writing, and teachers should be aware of the punctuation conventions in English so that they can teach these in class. Continue reading “Punctuation”
Is this a sentence? If so, what is the first NP? Where is the VP?
“Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo”
At first it looks odd but let’s replace the words with more familiar ones. Continue reading “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo”
Noun phrases can be said to have generic reference if they refer to the class of objects represented by the head noun as a whole rather that one or a subset of members. Thus in:
The tiger is a fearsome beast My tiger is a fearsome beast
The first example is generic in that it refers to the whole class of tigers whereas the second is non-generic in that it refers to one specific tiger. Continue reading “Genericness (NPs)”