Grammar: Introduction Example

English for Academic Purposes: Grammar

Grammar in EAP

Introduction: Example

Read the following text.

The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government. This is not easy to do since most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940. Yet this is quite erroneous. The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.

The text can be described according to the different levels (ranks) of organisation within the grammar. The four levels that are identified here are: words, groups, clauses and sentences. The text above consists of 66 words (tokens), which includes 43 different words (types).

These words combine into groups (e.g. different types of coalition government, quite erroneous) – nominal groups, verbal groups, adjectival groups, adverbial groups, which then combine into clauses – dependent & independent, finite and non-finite.

Text
Sentence Sentence Sentence
Clause Clause Clause Clause Clause Clause
Group Group Group Group Group Group Group Group Group Group Group Group
Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word Word

There are seven clauses in this text:

  1. The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931.
  2. Distinguish between different types of coalition government.
  3. This is not easy to do.
  4. Most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government”.
  5. The same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940.
  6. This is quite erroneous.
  7. The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.

and these combine into four sentences:

  1. The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government.
  2. This is not easy to do since most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940.
  3. Yet this is quite erroneous.
  4. The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.

which are held together by various cohesive devices.


Words

The text above consists of 66 word tokens:

1931, 1931, 1940, as, between, between, coalition, coalition, crisis, different, different, distinguish, distinguish, do, easy, erroneous, first, from, government, government, government, government. Governments, historian, historians, if, in, is, is, is, most, national, national, not, of, of, of, of, of, or, persist, quite, ruled, same, should, since, sort, speaking, step, the, the, the, the, the, this, this, three, three, to, to, to, towards, types, types, understanding, yet”.

or 42 different word types:

1931, 1940, as, between, coalition, crisis, different, distinguish, do, easy, erroneous, first, from, government, governments, historian, historians, if, in, is, most, national, not, of, or, persist, quite, ruled, same, should, since, sort, speaking, step, the, this, three, to, towards, types, understanding, yet”.

According to Compleat Lexical Tutor, ignoring the numbers, 35 (blue & green) of these are from Michael West’s General Service List (Vocabulary: GSL), 2 (yellow) are from Coxhead’s Academic Word List (Vocabulary: AWL) and 2 (red) are not on either list.

The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government. This is not easy to do since most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940. Yet this is quite erroneous. The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.

Some of the words in the text are complex words, that is they are composed of smaller parts – morphemes.

The words: “different, erroneous, governments, historian, historians, national, ruled, speaking, understanding” are composed of smaller morphemes, sometimes with spelling changes:

  • differ + ent
  • error + neous
  • govern + ment + s
  • history + an + s
  • nation + al
  • rule + ed
  • speak + ing
  • understand + ing

Some of these are grammatical inflections “rule+ed, speak+ing, undestand+ing, government+s, historian+s” and some use affixes to make new words: “differ+ent, error+neous, govern+ment, history+an, nation+al“.

See: Grammar: Morphology


The text includes nouns: Some are highlighted:

The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government. This is not easy to do since most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940. Yet this is quite erroneous. The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.

See: Grammar: Nouns


It also includes verbs: Some are highlighted:

The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government. This is not easy to do since most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940. Yet this is quite erroneous. The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.

Most are finite verbs but “understanding“, “distinguish“, “speaking” and “distinguish” are non-finite and “should” is a modal verb.

See: Grammar: Verbs


There are also adjectives. Some are highlighted:

The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government. This is not easy to do since most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940. Yet this is quite erroneous. The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.

See: Grammar: Adjectives


and prepositions. Some are highlighted:

The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government. This is not easy to do since most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940. Yet this is quite erroneous. The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.

See: Grammar: Prepositions


It includes articles, or other determiners. Some are highlighted:

The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government. This is not easy to do since most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940. Yet this is quite erroneous. The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.

See: Grammar: Articles


and conjunctions. Some are highlighted:

The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government. This is not easy to do since most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940. Yet this is quite erroneous. The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.


It also includes some of what are traditionally called adverbs:

The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government. This is not easy to do since most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940. Yet this is quite erroneous. The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.


Groups

These 66 words combine into groups. The nouns are part of nominal groups. Some examples are highlighted, and the head noun is underlined:

The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government. This is not easy to do since most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940. Yet this is quite erroneous. The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.

The nominal groups shown here function as subjectsThe “first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931” – or objects of prepositions – “three different types of coalition government”.

See: Grammar: Nominal Groups


Some adjectives are parts of adjectival groups. Some examples are highlighted.

The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government. This is not easy to do since most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940. Yet this is quite erroneous. The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.

quite erroneous” and “not easy to do” are adjectival groups, “erroneous” being pre-modified by “quite” while “easy” is pre-modified by “not” and post-modified by “to do“,

See: Grammar: Adjectival Groups


Some adjectives are attributive; but others are predicative, parts of complements

The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government. This is not easy to do since most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940. Yet this is quite erroneous. The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.


Clauses

The text consists of four sentences, or clause complexes.

1The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government. 2This is not easy to do since most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940. 3Yet this is quite erroneous. 4The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.

 

These four sentences are made up of seven clauses:

  • The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931
  • Distinguish between different types of coalition government.
  • This is not easy to do.
  • Most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government”
  • The same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940
  • This is quite erroneous.
  • The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.

See: Grammar: Clauses

Here are some examples of how they can be described (↓ = realised by):

1The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government.

Clause Complex
The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government.
SUBJECT PREDICATOR
The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government.
PREDICATE COMPLEMENT
The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government.
Verbal Group
Nominal Group Verb Non-Finite Clause
PRE-MOD HEAD POST-MODIFIER HEAD to Verb Prep Nominal Group
Det NomG Non-Finite Clause
The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government.
PRE-MOD HEAD
towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is NomG
the crisis of 1931 is different types of coalition government
The first step towards undertsanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish beteen different types of coalition government.

 

2This is not easy to do since most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940.

Clause Complex
This is not easy to do since most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940.
Independent Clause Coordinating Conjunction Independent Clause
SUBJECT PREDICATE since SUBJECT PREDICATE
This is not easy to do since most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940
 ↓ PREDICATOR COMPLEMENT PREDICATOR COMPLEMENT
NomG Verbal Group Adjectival Group   NomG Verbal Group Compound Non-Finite Clause
Pronoun verb not easy to do PRE-MOD HEAD persist in speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940
 is
This PRE-MOD HEAD POST-MOD most NomG speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940
 Noun Non-Finite Clause  Conjunction Finite Clause   
Adjectival Group  Non-Finite Clause

historians

 SUBJECT PREDICATE
Adjective  to+VerbG PREDICATOR  ADJUNCT
 to+Verb  Verbal Group Nominal Group NomG Verbal Group Prep Group
not easy to do speaking of The National Government the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940
This is not easy to do since most historians persist in speaking of The National Government as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940.

3Yet this is quite erroneous.

Clause
Yet this is quite erroneous.
ADJUNCT SUBJECT PREDICATE
PREDICATOR COMPLEMENT
Adverbial Group Nominal Group  Verbal Group Adjectival Group
Adverb Pronoun  Verb PRE-MOD HEAD
Adverb Adjective
Yet this is quite erroneous.

 

4The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.

Clause
The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.
SUBJECT PREDICATE
The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.
 ↓ PREDICATOR COMPLEMENT
NomG should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.
 ↓
Det Noun ↓  Preposition Compound Prepositional Object
the historian verbal group between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.
Modal Verb Nominal Group Conjunction Nominal Group
should distinguish PRE-MOD HEAD PRE-MOD HEAD
Nominal Group Nominal Group
three different types of coalition government or three National Governments
The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government or three National Governments.

Cohesion

Cohesion refers to the grammatical and lexical connections that exist in a text. It is what holds the text together.

The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government. This is not easy to do since most historians persist in speaking of “The National Government” as if the same sort of government ruled from 1931 to 1940.Yetthis is quite erroneous. The historian should distinguish between three different types of coalition government, or three National Governments.

See: Grammar: Cohesion

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