English Language Grammar and Syntax

The basics of grammar and syntax

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Shauni
  • Created on: 15-05-12 22:08


The area of language study that deals with the formation of words from similar units called morphemes.

1 of 45


The smallest unit of grammatical meaning. Morphemes can be words in their own right or combine with other morphemes to form lexical units.

2 of 45

Linguistic Rank Scale:

 A system for showing the relationship between levels of language units. The movement from left to right indicates that a unit is structured from that which precedes it, for example clauses are structured from phrases.

3 of 45

Prescriptive Approach/ Attitude:

An approach that concentrates on how language ought to be structured (written or spoken) and sees alternative patterns or versions as deviant and inferior.

4 of 45

Descriptive Approach/ Attitude:

An approach to language study that focuses on actual language use.

5 of 45

Noun Phrases:

A group of words centred around a head noun.

6 of 45

Constituent Structure:

The key components of a phrase.

7 of 45


Modifying that occurs before the head noun.

8 of 45


A word, usually an adjective or a noun used attributively, that qualifies the sense of a noun. Adverbs of comment also act as modifiers, e.g. obviously.

9 of 45


Further information to complete the phrase.

10 of 45


A modifying phrase or lexical item that occurs after the head noun in a noun phrase.

11 of 45

Prepositional Phrase:

A phrase consisting of a preposition and an added noun phrase.

12 of 45

Main Verb:

The verb that details the main process in a verb phrase.

13 of 45

Auxiliary Verb:

A verb that supports or ‘helps’ another; it shows tense or modality.

14 of 45

Negating Particle:

A small item used to form negative construction, for example not.

15 of 45

Obligatory Component:

A necessary part of the verb phrase, that is the main verb.

16 of 45

Optional Component:

An additional part of the verb phrase that may be present, for example an extension or negating particle.

17 of 45

Primary Auxiliary:

Used to denote tense changes: ‘do’; ‘be’; ‘have’.

18 of 45

Modal Auxiliary Verb:

A verb that never appears on its own and is used to express possibility, probability, certainty, necessity or obligation: will; would; can; could; shall; should; may; might; must.

19 of 45


A combination of a primary auxiliary and another verb part.

20 of 45


 A verb that can attach to another to form a chain.

21 of 45


The individual or entity responsible for the action.

22 of 45


The responsibility for, or cause of, an action.

23 of 45

Adjectival Phrase:

 A phrase with an adjective as its head, for example ‘very big’.

24 of 45

Adverbial Phrase:

A phrase with an adverb as its head, for example ‘very quickly’.

25 of 45


A group of lexical items centred round a verb phrase.

26 of 45

Clause Patterns:

Patterns produced by writers using certain types of clause for impact and effect.

27 of 45

Double-object Construction:

A clause with a verb that has two objects: one direct and other indirect.

28 of 45

Direct Object:

An object directly affected by a verb process, for example in ‘I gave him the pen’, ‘pen’ is directly affected by the giving and is the direct object.

29 of 45

Indirect Object:

An object indirectly affected by a verb process, for example in ‘I gave him the pen’, ‘him’ is the indirect object.

30 of 45

Ditransitive Verb:

A verb that requires two objects to form a double-object construction.

31 of 45

Monotransitive Verb:

A verb that only requires one object.

32 of 45

Intransitive Verb:

A verb process such as ‘yawned’ or ‘slept’ that has no object.

33 of 45

Sentence Structures:

The kind of sentence(s) used by a writer for impact and effect.

34 of 45

Simple Sentence:

A sentence consisting of a single main clause.

35 of 45

Compound Sentence:

A sentence containing two or more main clauses, connected by coordinating conjunctions, or something just separated by punctuation (semicolon).

36 of 45

Coordinating Conjunctions:

Words such as and, but or that link clauses to form compound sentences

37 of 45

Complex Sentence:

A sentence containing a main clause with one or more subordinate or dependant clauses, often connected with a subordinating conjunction.

38 of 45

Main Clause:

A clause that can stand independently and make sense on its own.

39 of 45

Subordinate Clause:

A clause that is dependent on another to complete the full meaning of a sentence.

40 of 45

Subordinating Conjunctions:

Words such as because, although and while that link a main clause to a number of subordinate clauses in complex sentences.

41 of 45

Compound-complex Sentences:

A sentence containing at least two main clauses and at least one subordinate clause.

42 of 45


A group of spoken words, roughly equivalent to the sentence in written terms.

43 of 45

Active Voice:

Includes an actor or agent; verb phrase includes a finite present or past tense verb

44 of 45

Passive Verb:

Omits an actor or agent or includes the agent as part of the prepositional phrase after the verb.

45 of 45


No comments have yet been made

Similar English Language resources:

See all English Language resources »