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English Syntax – Basic Facts and In-Depth Analyses

When learning how to conduct a full-fledged syntactic analysis following the constituency grammar approach, it’s hard to find a textbook that actually tells you how it’s done in a simple, yet detailed way. Of course, the most fundamental standard grammar, The Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language or CGEL for short by Quirk et al. (1985), and its condensed version, A Student’s Grammar of the English Language by Greenbaum and Quirk (1990), each dedicate hundreds of pages to the in-depth portrayal of the terminology and rules used to describe English grammar. What you won’t find in those books, however, are coherent, let alone complete syntactic analyses in the true sense of the word. The latter can only be found in comparatively short, unpublished booklets which are actually collections of former exam questions that come with one model solution (including some comments). What’s clearly missing, though, is a publication in-between those two extremes that bridges the gap between theoretical aspects and practical analyses, offering readers a step by step guide on how to conduct a syntactic analysis.
      In the course of a student research seminar (sponsored by “lehre@lmu”) bearing the same name, English Syntax – Basic Facts and In-Depth Analyses is now being written by a group of experienced students, tutors and their teacher, who, as syntax practitioners, are all well aware of the kind of book that is still missing on the market. We deal with all the classical topics of English syntax that need to be covered in theory first in order to conduct a full analysis of complex sentences on all functional and formal levels. We start from scratch by explaining basic facts and techniques first before moving on the more complex topics, which presuppose knowledge gained in previous chapters:

               1. Basic Introduction and Syntactic Functions
               2. The Internal Structure of Phrases
               3. Word Classes
               4. The Verb
               5. An Introduction to Complex Sentences
               6. Finite Clauses
               7. Non-Finite Clauses
               8. Apposition
               9. Coordination
             10. Information Structure
             11. Practice Makes Perfect


  • Greenbaum, Sidney and Randolph Quirk (1990) [SGEL] A Student’s Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman.
  • Quirk, Randolph, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik (1985) [CGEL] A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman.
What we offer
All chapters start with a straightforward outline of theoretical aspects by providing ample examples, mnemonic devices and summarizing boxes. We also point out recurring pitfalls and elucidate ambiguous passages in the CGEL, suggesting solutions and, most importantly, casting all that knowledge into actual syntactic analyses. For that reason, each chapter is concluded by a number of full-fledged sample analyses which focus on the particular topic of the chapter and demonstrate solutions to problematic components – comments included. All sentences are taken from a mini-corpus particularly designed for the purpose of this book and comprising authentic sentences from quality newspapers of American and British English origin. Their length and complexity is supposed to mirror sentences of actual exam contexts.
Whom we wish to address
Students who…
  • look for a coherent introductory textbook about syntactic analysis;
  • want to prepare for all kinds of syntax exams;
Teachers who…
  • look for materials for syntax classes;
  • look for a comprehensive textbook to base their courses on.
Who we are
Dr. Jenny Arendholz head of the project, editor and author
Lioba Arnoldi author and tutor for linguistics classes
Sandra Heinrichs-Neigefind author
Sybille Homes former author and tutor for grammar classes
Franziska Kirchhoff author
Hannah Schade author
Michaela Springer author and former tutor for grammar classes

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