Grammar: Syntax

Grammar in EAP



Syntax is a traditional term for the study of the rules governing the way words are combined to form groups, clauses and sentences in a language. In contrasts with morphology, which studies the structure of words.

The main syntactic elements of clauses are: Subject, Predicator, Complement (Direct Object, Indirect Object, Subject Complement, Object Complement)  and Adjunct.

Clauses are made up of groups, which are made up of words. Words combine to form groups. Therefore, a group consists of one or more words; it can be thought of as an expanded word. A typical structure of a group would be mhq – modifier, head, qualifier. Groups combine to form clauses. Typical groups are nominal groups, verbal groups, adjectival groups, adverbial groups.

Syntax studies the rules of these combinations.

For example, in a sentence such as:

Neural connections between the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) and most other regions of the brain have been cut and yet the SCN has continued to be rhythmic.

we may be interested in how the words combine to form a meaningful sentence. This is syntax.

However we might also be interested in how the words “connections, continued, rhythmic” can be divided into parts: “connect + ion + s“, “continued + d” and “rhythm + ic“, or how “suprachiasmatic” is formed. This is morphology.


Try these exercises: Syntax Exercises

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