Introduction and overview:
In this, rather lengthy chapter we deal with the preliminaries of syntax, which should serve as
the foundation for further work. We examine basic syntactic notions, modes of description
and classification, and some tools for syntactic analysis.
What do we do when we perform a syntactic analysis?
1. The first step is to determine the relevant component parts of a sentence (or any other
2. The next step is to describe these parts grammatically
The first step means that we break down the sentence (or a syntactic unit) into its
For instance, in the sentence
(1) Hopefully, every student will learn the procedure.
we can determine the following components parts, the constituents: hopefully, every
student, will learn, the procedure.
The second step means that we assign some grammatical label to each constituent, stating
what type of constituent it is (i.e. its form or category) and what grammatical function it
For instance, we label the identified constituents according to their form and
sentence function as follows:
hopefully – adverb by form, sentence modifier by function
every student – noun phrase by form, subject by function
will learn – verb phrase by form, predicator by function
the procedure – noun phrase by form, direct object by function
Let’s now perform the syntactic analysis of the following sentence:
(2) When I arrived in London, I thought I knew English.
Modes of syntactic description
In syntactic description, we describe syntactic units in terms of their FORM, FUNCTION
and POSITION, so these can be considered the modes of structural description.
Another term, sometimes used for this, is category. This actually refers to the
grammatical shape of the unit that we analyze. According to their form, we distinguish two
a/ single words
b/ word groups (phrases, clauses, sentences)
Single words can be broadly divided into two major classes, according to
morphological, syntactic and semantic criteria. These are:
• Form classes (Also known as lexical words, content words, open classes…). These
include nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.
• Structure classes (grammatical words, function words, closed sets…) These include
pronouns, prepositions, auxiliaries and modals, conjunctions, numerals.
Diagram 1 gives the summary of form types.
The term function can be broadly understood as the grammatical job that a particular
unit has within a larger unit. Function therefore means ‘syntactic’ function. For instance, in
the sentence Girls enjoy chocolate, the nouns girls and chocolate have the function of the
subject and direct object of the sentence, respectively.
The term position usually refers to the position a linguistic unit can take within
another unit. Thus, it is common to talk of elements occurring in initial, medial or final
positions within the higher-order unit, or about pre- and post-positions in relation to a
specific unit. For example, a time modifier can occur either in the initial (3a) or final (3b)
position in a sentence:
(3) a. Yesterday they had an enormous dinner.
b. They had an enormous dinner yesterday.
The hierarchy of linguistic units would look like this1
• (Distinctive features)
In this book we are going to focus only on the linguistic units which are relevant for
The status of a linguistic unit is disputable for the units given in brackets and depend on a particular linguistic
theory or discipline.
Phrases Clauses Sentences
syntax – syntactic units, which include:
A phrase can be considered the lowest syntactic unit. It can be defined as a syntactic
unit that contains more than one word and lacks the subject-predicate relationship.2
phrase contains one word which is more important than the others (headword) and some
other single-word or word group elements that specify, modify or complete the headword in
various ways. They can be placed in front (specifiers, premodifiers) or after the headword
(postmodifiers, complements). The type of the phrase is determined by the type of the
headword, so there are the following types of phrases:
• Noun phrase (NP)
• Verb phrase (VP)
• Adjective phrase (AdjP)
• Adverb(ial) phrase (AdvP)
• Prepositional phrase (PP)
Noun Phrase (NP)
A noun phrase is a syntactic unit which consists of a noun and all the words
and word groups that cluster around the noun and add to its meaning.
For example, the structure of the noun phrase the lively little painting of Paris which I
bought last year can be represented as:
The lively little painting of
which I bought last
The only obligatory element in a noun phrase is the head noun, which means that a
noun phrase minimally consists of a noun.
Verb Phrase (VP)
A verb phrase is a syntactic unit which consists of a verb and all the words and word
groups that cluster around the verb and add to its meaning, functioning as auxiliaries,
modifiers and complements.
The structure of the verb phrase has never written a letter to his aunt when he lived in
Rome can be represented like this:
It should be noted that in recent theories it has been recognized that some phrases can actually consist of a single
word. For instance, the word group the second-year students of English is clearly the noun phrase with the headword
students, but the single noun Students or the personal pronoun They can also be considered minimal noun phrases,
since they can be used in a sentence in the same way as the larger noun phrase. Moreover, the term ‘phrase’ in
Transformational Generative Grammar has a broader meaning and refers to any kind of syntactic unit in the
has never written а letter to his aunt when he lived in
Adjective Phrase (AdjP)
An adjective phrase is a syntactic unit which consists of an adjective and all the
words and word groups that cluster around the adjective and add to its meaning.
Look at the structure of the adjective phrase quite fond of chocolate:
Premodifier Adjective head Complement (of the
quite fond of chocolate
Adverb Phrase (AdvP)
An adverb phrase (also called adverbial phrase) is a syntactic unit which consists of an
adverb and all the words and word groups that cluster around the adverb and add to its
The structure of an adverb phrase is rather simple, as can be seen from the following two
Premodifier Adverb head
Prepositional Phrase (PP)
A prepositional phrase is a syntactic unit which consists of a preposition and a
word/word group that completes its meaning.
Premodifier Preposition head Object of the
right into the centre
The term ‘clause’3
in various grammar books and grammar theories is used to refer to
different things, so it is always a good idea to check what particular authors really mean by
Most commonly, a clause is defined as a syntactic unit which has a subject-predicate
relationship and is part of a larger unit. Usually it is viewed as a linguistic unit smaller than
a sentence and larger than a phrase.
In the following sentence we can identify three clauses – one is the main clause and two are
The word derives via Old French from the Latin clausula, the close of a sentence.
I think that you will succeed if you try hard.
main clause subordinate clause subordinate
Subordinate clauses can be further classified into various syntactic and semantic
types. According to their function in a sentence clauses can be divided into:
a/ Nominal clauses
b/ Adjectival (relative) clauses
c/ Adverbial clauses
Finally, we should note that clauses can be classified according to the type of the verb and
a/ finite clauses
I don’t know where I should go.
b/ non-finite clauses
I don’t know where to go.
The best thing is to tell the truth.
It is impossible for him to tell the truth.
c/ verbless clauses
You can start reading, when ready.
Too proud to join the group, she remained an outsider.
For our syntax course we are going to consider a sentence the largest syntactic unit and
use the following working definition: a sentence is string of constituents characterized by
the subject-predicate relationship.
Sentence, utterance, proposition
According to their inner structure or level of complexity, sentences can be:
Simple sentences have one subject-predicate relationship.
NOTE: In some theories and grammar books such sentences are called clauses.
A cute little puppy stayed in front of my door all night.
Complex sentences have one main and at least one subordinate clause.
A cute little puppy that probably got lost stayed in front of my door all night because
it felt safe there.
The underlined clauses are subordinate.
Compound sentences have at least two independent clauses (they make up the
structure of coordination).
Some grammarians also distinguish a special type which they call complex-compound
sentences and these consist of one main clause and at least one subordinate and one
A cute little puppy that probably got lost stayed in front of my door all night because
it felt safe there, but I didn’t notice it before morning and I fed it then.
A cute little puppy stayed in front of my door all night and I fed him in the morning.
According to their function in discourse, sentences can be functionally classified into:
• declarative sentences (expressing statements)
They study English.
• interrogative sentences (expressing questions)
What do they study?
• imperative sentences (expressing commands or requests)
Go and study!
• exclamative (exclamatory) sentences (express exclamations)
Basic syntactic structures
We are going to adopt a more specific classification and identify four basic syntactic
structures, i.e. four basic types of syntactic interrelationships. They are:
1. The structure of PREDICATION
2. The structure of MODIFICATION
3. The structure of COMPLEMENTATION
4. The structure of COORDINATION
Structure of predication
The structure of predication is the relationship which exists between the subject and
the predicate of the sentence.
S + V
a/ Sam is sleeping.
b/ Sam and Pat are walking down the street.
Structure of modification
The structure of modification is such a relationship which means that there is the
structural dependence of one grammatical unit upon another; one element is considered
‘more important’ than the others. This element is known as the head, or headword of the
structure of the modification.
premodifier(s) + Head + postmodifier(s)
Structure of complementation
The complementation traditionally refers to the relationship which exists between the
verb and the words and word groups that complete the meaning of the action specified by the
verb. Since in most languages these complements come after the verb, the structure can be
represented as follows:
Verb + complement(s)
Constituent structure and constituency tests
The term constituent structure is sometimes used parallelly with the terms syntactic
structure and phrase structure to refer to the components of a syntactic unit and their
relationships. We present a series of tests for identifying strings of words inside a sentence as
units or constituents. These tests are called constituency tests or phrase structure tests,
and are used as diagnostic tools in a syntactic analysis.
(The student) (bought a laptop)
Substitution means that we try to substitute a group of words by a single word. If we
can do that, and preserve grammaticality (but not necessarily the meaning!), it means that
this particular group of words is indeed a constituent.
(The student) (bought a laptop).
Substitution with pro-forms
A special case of substitution is when the sequence of words in question is substituted
by a pro-form (a pronoun or a word with a similar function).
The student bought a laptop.
She bought that.
Mr Heathcliff little imagined how my heart warmed towards him when I beheld
his black eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows as I announced
Mr Heathcliff little imagined that.
Sometimes this kind of test is called anaphora, since we can create such a context where the
particular constituent will be used as antecedent and the pro-form will follow.
Movement here means that if we can move a group of words to another position in the
sentence, and retain both the grammaticality and the meaning, then the group of words is
question is a constituent. The term ‘move’ should be taken rather loosely, since it actually
means that we paraphrase the sentence in such a way that the group of words is question
appears in a different position, relying on our knowledge of English.
In (18a) and (18b) we try to prove that the word group for his sister is also a constituent, by
two different movement/paraphrase options.
(18) John bought a pink bike for his sister last year.
(18a) For his sister, John bought a pink bike last year.
(18b) It was for his sister that John bought a pink bike last year.
In (18a) the prepositional phrase, functioning as an indirect object is moved to the
front, separated by a comma, specifying a special reference. In (18b) we have the so-called
‘cleft’-sentence – a special emphatic construction which can be used to stress some sentence
constituents. What would happen if we assumed that, for instance, the sequence for his
sister last year is a sentence constituent? We could move it in the same way, but definitely
we would have to separate the parts for his sister and last year by a comma, or in speech, to
pronounce the with a small pause – try to read aloud (18c) and (18d). This proves that it is not
one constituent, but two.
(18c) For his sister, last year, John bought a pink bike.
(18d) It was for his sister, last year, that John bought a pink bike.
Finally, in (19), (19a), (19b) and (20), we try to prove by movement tests (passive paraphrase
) that a pink bike, and John are also constituents.
(19) A pink bike was bought by John for his sister last year.
(19a) It was a pink bike that John bought for his sister last year.
(19b) What John bought for his sister last year was a pink bike.
(20) It was John who bought a pink bike for his sister last year.
Passive paraphrase and placing a time/place adverbial sentence-initially are two very
useful tests to prove or check whether particular constituents are direct objects or adverbial
modifiers. Look at these two:
(21) She left him last week.
(22) She left him last apples.
Two different movement tests work as positive and negative evidence.
(21a) Last week she left him.
(21b) * Last week was left him by her.
(Numbers refer to the original numbers in the book)
Another useful constituency test is coordination – if a word group can be coordinated
with a similar structure, it is a constituent. In (23), (24) and (25) we coordinate a word group
similar to the one whose constituency we are checking. The coordination is given in brackets,
and the word group we want to check is underlined.
(23) The little rabbit (and the big squirrel) ran down the hill.
(24) The little rabbit ran down the hill (and passed the river bank).
(25) The little rabbit ran down the hill (and by the river bank).
John is your friend.
Clefting, or cleft-sentence, is a term referring to a special emphatic construction in English, which breaks the
regular order of sentence constituents to give prominence, focus to one of them. The form is it + be + focus element
+ the rest of the sentence.
The guy who phoned me last night is your friend, isn’t he?
What you told me last month proved to be true.
subject(ive) complement, complement of the subject (SC, Cs)
(= imenski deo predikata)
The guy is your friend.
The guy seems intelligent.
direct object (DO, Od)
I know that you love books.
You love books.
indirect object (IO, Oi)
Give me the book.
Send this note to all the students.
object(ive) complement , complement of the object (OC, Co)
(= dopuna objekta, objekatska dopuna)
They consider her beautiful.
The team appointed him captain.
object of the preposition (OP)
They are in the classroom.
They travelled all over the world.
predicator, verb (V)
They travelled all over the world
adverbial (modifier), adjunct5
(A, AM) (= priloška odredba)
They are in the classroom.
Cross the street carefully.
premodifier, postmodifier (Mod)6
The students who don’t have the homework will not get the bonus.
A pretty white kitten, fluffy and cuddly.
sentence modifier, sentence adverbial (SM)
When you finish the classes, give me a ring.
Frankly speaking, I don’t think he has any chance with her.
complement of a noun (Cn)
Your decision to study English proved wise.
Students hate the idea that they should have tests every week.
complement of an adjective (Cadj)
I’m delighted to see you!
We’re afraid that someone might break into the house while we’re away.
retained object (RO)
They were given dozens of books.
Dozens of books were given to them.
The term adverbial complement is also used by some authors for obligatory adjuncts (Wekker and Haegeman
1985). Quirk et al. (1985: 475-563) make the distinction between syntactically different types of adverbial modifiers
and consider adjuncts to be major sentence elements, whereas subjuncts are not so important for the sentence
structure and disjuncts and conjuncts are peripheral to the sentence structure.
The Serbian term used for prenominal modifiers is atribut.
It should be stressed that all these functions can be realized by single words, but also
by word groups, such as phrases and clauses, as can be seen from the examples.
The following functions are almost always performed by single words. (Complex words
are syntactically considered single words, not word groups!)
Head (of a phrase) (= upravna reč)
Noun head (NH): a lovely girl behind the window
Verb head (VH): usually goes home late
Adjective head (AdjH): so glad to see you
Adverb head (AdvH): rather soon
Preposition head (PrepH): in the garden, in front of the house
Specifier (determiner in an NP)
my lovely daughters
a student of English
Connector (coordinating conjunction in the structure of coordination, they can be single
or correlative conjunctions)
apples and oranges
either teachers or students
not only attend the classes but also do all the homework
Subordinator (subordinating conjunction in subordinate clauses)
I’ll help you if you tell me how.
I don’t know what you want.
S Y N T A X
In linguistics, syntax (from Ancient Greek σύνταξις "arrangement" from σύν syn,
"together", and τάξις táxis, "an ordering") is "the study of the principles and processes by
which sentences are constructed in particular languages".
In addition to referring to the overarching discipline, the term syntax is also used to
refer directly to the rules and principles that govern the sentence structure of any individual
language, for example in "the syntax of Modern Irish." Modern research in syntax attempts to
describe languages in terms of such rules. Many professionals in this discipline attempt to find
general rules that apply to all natural languages.
The term syntax is also used to refer to the rules governing the behavior of
mathematical systems, such as formal languages used in logic. (See Logical syntax).
Works on grammar were written long before modern syntax came about; the
A ādhyāyī of Pā ini is often cited as an example of a premodern work that approaches theṣṭ ṇ
sophistication of a modern syntactic theory. In the West, the school of thought that came to
be known as "traditional grammar" began with the work of Dionysius Thrax.
For centuries, work in syntax was dominated by a framework known as grammaire
générale, first expounded in 1660 by Antoine Arnauld in a book of the same title. This system
took as its basic premise the assumption that language is a direct reflection of thought
processes and therefore there is a single, most natural way to express a thought. (That
natural way, coincidentally, was exactly the way it was expressed in French.)
However, in the 19th century, with the development of historical-comparative
linguistics, linguists began to realize the sheer diversity of human language, and to question
fundamental assumptions about the relationship between language and logic. It became
apparent that there was no such thing as the most natural way to express a thought, and
therefore logic could no longer be relied upon as a basis for studying the structure of
The Port-Royal grammar modeled the study of syntax upon that of logic (indeed, large
parts of the Port-Royal Logic were copied or adapted from the Grammaire générale).
Syntactic categories were identified with logical ones, and all sentences were analyzed in
terms of "Subject – Copula – Predicate". Initially, this view was adopted even by the early
comparative linguists such as Franz Bopp.
The central role of syntax within theoretical linguistics became clear only in the 20th
century, which could reasonably be called the "century of syntactic theory" as far as
linguistics is concerned. For a detailed and critical survey of the history of syntax in the last
two centuries, see the monumental work by Giorgio Graffi (2001).
There are a number of theoretical approaches to the discipline of syntax. One school
of thought, founded in the works of Derek Bickerton, sees syntax as a branch of biology, since
it conceives of syntax as the study of linguistic knowledge as embodied in the human mind.
Other linguists (e.g. Gerald Gazdar) take a more Platonistic view, since they regard syntax to
be the study of an abstract formal system. Yet others (e.g. Joseph Greenberg) consider
grammar a taxonomical device to reach broad generalizations across languages.
The hypothesis of generative grammar is that language is a structure of the human
mind. The goal of generative grammar is to make a complete model of this inner language
(known as i-language). This model could be used to describe all human language and to
predict the grammaticality of any given utterance (that is, to predict whether the utterance
would sound correct to native speakers of the language). This approach to language was
pioneered by Noam Chomsky. Most generative theories (although not all of them) assume that
syntax is based upon the constituent structure of sentences. Generative grammars are among
the theories that focus primarily on the form of a sentence, rather than its communicative
Among the many generative theories of linguistics, the Chomskyan theories are:
Transformational grammar (TG) (Original theory of generative syntax laid out by
Chomsky in Syntactic Structures in 1957).Government and binding theory (GB) (revised theory
in the tradition of TG developed mainly by Chomsky in the 1970s and 1980s).Minimalist
program (MP) (a reworking of the theory out of the GB framework published by Chomsky in
Other theories that find their origin in the generative paradigm are:
Generative semantics (now largely out of date).Relational grammar (RG) (now largely
out of date).Arc pair grammar.Generalized phrase structure grammar (GPSG; now largely out
of date).Head-driven phrase structure grammar (HPSG).Lexical functional grammar
Categorial grammar is an approach that attributes the syntactic structure not to rules
of grammar, but to the properties of the syntactic categories themselves. For example,
rather than asserting that sentences are constructed by a rule that combines a noun phrase
(NP) and a verb phrase (VP) (e.g. the phrase structure rule S NP VP), in categorial→
grammar, such principles are embedded in the category of the head word itself. So the
syntactic category for an intransitive verb is a complex formula representing the fact that the
verb acts as a function word requiring an NP as an input and produces a sentence level
structure as an output. This complex category is notated as (NPS) instead of V. NPS is read
as "a category that searches to the left (indicated by ) for a NP (the element on the left) and
outputs a sentence (the element on the right)". The category of transitive verb is defined as
an element that requires two NPs (its subject and its direct object) to form a sentence. This
is notated as (NP/(NPS)) which means "a category that searches to the right (indicated by /)
for an NP (the object), and generates a function (equivalent to the VP) which is (NPS), which
in turn represents a function that searches to the left for an NP and produces a sentence).
Tree-adjoining grammar is a categorial grammar that adds in partial tree structures to
Dependency grammar is an approach to sentence structure where syntactic units are
arranged according to the dependency relation, as opposed to the constituency relation of
phrase structure grammars. Dependencies are directed links between words. The (finite) verb
is seen as the root of all clause structure and all the other words in the clause are either
directly or indirectly dependent on this root. Some prominent dependency-based theories of
Algebraic syntax.Word grammar.Operator grammar.Meaning–text theory
Functional generative description
Lucien Tesnière (1893–1954) is widely seen as the father of modern dependency-based
theories of syntax and grammar. He argued vehemently against the binary division of the
clause into subject and predicate that is associated with the grammars of his day (S NP VP)→
and which remains at the core of all phrase structure grammars, and in the place of this
division, he positioned the verb as the root of all clause structure.
Stochastic/probabilistic grammars/network theories
Theoretical approaches to syntax that are based upon probability theory are known as
stochastic grammars. One common implementation of such an approach makes use of a neural
network or connectionism. Some theories based within this approach are:
Optimality theory.Stochastic context-free grammar
Main article: Functional theories of grammar
Functionalist theories, although focused upon form, are driven by explanation based
upon the function of a sentence (i.e. its communicative function). Some typical functionalist
Functional discourse grammar (Dik).Prague linguistic circle
Systemic functional grammar.Cognitive grammar.Construction grammar (CxG)
Role and reference grammar (RRG).Emergent grammar
G R A M M A R
In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that governs the composition of
clauses, phrases and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of
such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented
by phonetics, semantics, and pragmatics. Linguists do not normally use the term to refer to
orthographical rules, although usage books and style guides that call themselves grammars
may also refer to spelling and punctuation.
The term grammar is often used by non-linguists with a very broad meaning. As
Jeremy Butterfield puts it: "Grammar is often a generic way of referring to any aspect of
English that people object to." However, linguists use it in a much more specific sense.
Speakers of a language have in their heads a set of rules for using that language. This is a
grammar, and the vast majority of the information in it is acquired—at least in the case of
one's native language—not by conscious study or instruction, but by observing other speakers;
much of this work is done during infancy. Learning a language later in life usually involves a
greater degree of explicit instruction.
The term "grammar" can also be used to describe the rules that govern the linguistic
behaviour of a group of speakers. The term "English grammar", therefore, may have several
meanings. It may refer to the whole of English grammar—that is, to the grammars of all the
speakers of the language—in which case, the term encompasses a great deal of variation.
Alternatively, it may refer only to what is common to the grammars of all, or of the vast
majority of English speakers (such as subject–verb–object word order in simple declarative
sentences). Or it may refer to the rules of a particular, relatively well-defined variety of
English (such as Standard English).
"An English grammar" is a specific description, study or analysis of such rules. A
reference book describing the grammar of a language is called a "reference grammar" or
simply "a grammar." A fully explicit grammar that exhaustively describes the grammatical
constructions of a language is called a descriptive grammar. This kind of linguistic description
contrasts with linguistic prescription, an attempt to discourage or suppress some grammatical
constructions, while promoting others. For example, preposition stranding occurs widely in
Germanic languages and has a long history in English. John Dryden, however, objected to it
(without explanation), leading other English speakers to avoid the construction and
discourage its use.
The word grammar derives from Greek γραμματικ τέχνη (grammatikē technē), whichὴ
means "art of letters", from γράμμα (gramma), "letter", itself from γράφειν (graphein), "to
draw, to write".
The first systematic grammars originated in Iron Age India, with Yaska (6th century
BC), Pā ini (4th century BC) and his commentators Pingala (c. 200 BC), Katyayana, andṇ
Patanjali (2nd century BC). In the West, grammar emerged as a discipline in Hellenism from
the 3rd century BC forward with authors like Rhyanus and Aristarchus of Samothrace, the
oldest extant work being the Art of Grammar (Τέχνη Γραμματική), attributed to Dionysius
Thrax (c. 100 BC). Latin grammar developed by following Greek models from the 1st century
BC, due to the work of authors such as Orbilius Pupillus, Remmius Palaemon, Marcus Valerius
Probus, Verrius Flaccus, and Aemilius Asper.
Tolkāppiyam is the earliest Tamil grammar; it has been dated variously between 1st
CE and 10th CE. A grammar of Irish originated in the 7th century with the Auraicept na n-
Éces. Arabic grammar emerged with Abu al-Aswad al-Du'ali from the 7th century who in-turn
was taught the discipline by Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth historical caliph of Islam and first
Imam for Shi'i Muslims.
The first treatises on Hebrew grammar appeared in the High Middle Ages, in the
context of Mishnah (exegesis of the Hebrew Bible). The Karaite tradition originated in Abbasid
Baghdad. The Diqduq (10th century) is one of the earliest grammatical commentaries on the
Hebrew Bible. Ibn Barun in the 12th century compares the Hebrew language with Arabic in
the Islamic grammatical tradition.
Belonging to the trivium of the seven liberal arts, grammar was taught as a core
discipline throughout the Middle Ages, following the influence of authors from Late Antiquity,
such as Priscian. Treatment of vernaculars began gradually during the High Middle Ages, with
isolated works such as the First Grammatical Treatise, but became influential only in the
Renaissance and Baroque periods. In 1486, Antonio de Nebrija published Las introduciones
Latinas contrapuesto el romance al Latin, and the first Spanish grammar, Gramática de la
lengua castellana, in 1492. During the 16th-century Italian Renaissance, the Questione della
lingua was the discussion on the status and ideal form of the Italian language, initiated by
Dante's de vulgari eloquentia (Pietro Bembo, Prose della volgar lingua Venice 1525). The first
grammar of Slovene language was written in 1584 by Adam Bohorič.
Grammars of non-European languages began to be compiled for the purposes of
evangelization and Bible translation from the 16th century onward, such as Grammatica o
Arte de la Lengua General de los Indios de los Reynos del Perú (1560), and a Quechua
grammar by Fray Domingo de Santo Tomás.
In 1643 there appeared Ivan Uzhevych's Grammatica sclavonica and, in 1762, the Short
Introduction to English Grammar of Robert Lowth was also published. The Grammatisch-
Kritisches Wörterbuch der hochdeutschen Mundart, a High German grammar in five volumes
by Johann Christoph Adelung, appeared as early as 1774.
From the latter part of the 18th century, grammar came to be understood as a
subfield of the emerging discipline of modern linguistics. The Serbian grammar by Vuk
Stefanović Karadžić arrived in 1814, while the Deutsche Grammatik of the Brothers Grimm
was first published in 1818. The Comparative Grammar of Franz Bopp, the starting point of
modern comparative linguistics, came out in 1833.
Development of grammars
Grammars evolve through usage and also due to separations of the human population.
With the advent of written representations, formal rules about language usage tend to appear
also. Formal grammars are codifications of usage that are developed by repeated
documentation over time, and by observation as well. As the rules become established and
developed, the prescriptive concept of grammatical correctness can arise. This often creates
a discrepancy between contemporary usage and that which has been accepted, over time, as
being correct. Linguists tend to view prescriptive grammars as having little justification
beyond their authors' aesthetic tastes, although style guides may give useful advice about
standard language employment, based on descriptions of usage in contemporary writings of
the same language. Linguistic prescriptions also form part of the explanation for variation in
speech, particularly variation in the speech of an individual speaker (an explanation, for
example, for why some people say "I didn't do nothing", some say "I didn't do anything", and
some say one or the other depending on social context).
The formal study of grammar is an important part of education for children from a
young age through advanced learning, though the rules taught in schools are not a "grammar"
in the sense most linguists use the term, particularly as they are often prescriptive rather
Constructed languages (also called planned languages or conlangs) are more common
in the modern day. Many have been designed to aid human communication (for example,
naturalistic Interlingua, schematic Esperanto, and the highly logic-compatible artificial
language Lojban). Each of these languages has its own grammar.
Syntax refers to linguistic structure above the word level (e.g. how sentences are
formed)—though without taking into account intonation, which is the domain of phonology.
Morphology, by contrast, refers to structure at and below the word level (e.g. how compound
words are formed), but above the level of individual sounds, which, like intonation, are in the
domain of phonology.
No clear line can be drawn, however, between syntax and morphology. Analytic
languages use syntax to convey information that is encoded via inflection in synthetic
languages. In other words, word order is not significant and morphology is highly significant in
a purely synthetic language, whereas morphology is not significant and syntax is highly
significant in an analytic language. Chinese and Afrikaans, for example, are highly analytic,
and meaning is therefore very context-dependent. (Both do have some inflections, and have
had more in the past; thus, they are becoming even less synthetic and more "purely" analytic
over time.) Latin, which is highly synthetic, uses affixes and inflections to convey the same
information that Chinese does with syntax. Because Latin words are quite (though not
completely) self-contained, an intelligible Latin sentence can be made from elements that
are placed in a largely arbitrary order. Latin has a complex affixation and simple syntax,
while Chinese has the opposite.
Various "grammar frameworks" have been developed in theoretical linguistics since the
mid-20th century, in particular under the influence of the idea of a "universal grammar" in
the United States. Of these, the main divisions are:
Transformational grammar (TG).Systemic functional grammar (SFG)
Principles and Parameters Theory (P&P).Lexical-functional Grammar (LFG)
Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar (GPSG).Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar
(HPSG).Dependency grammars (DG).Role and reference grammar (RRG)
Prescriptive grammar is taught in primary school (elementary school). The term
"grammar school" historically refers to a school teaching Latin grammar to future Roman
citizens, orators, and, later, Catholic priests. In its earliest form, "grammar school" referred
to a school that taught students to read, scan, interpret, and declaim Greek and Latin poets
(including Homer, Virgil, Euripides, Ennius, and others). These should not be confused with
the related, albeit distinct, modern British grammar schools.
A standard language is a particular dialect of a language that is promoted above other
dialects in writing, education, and broadly speaking in the public sphere; it contrasts with
vernacular dialects, which may be the objects of study in descriptive grammar but which are
rarely taught prescriptively. The standardized "first language" taught in primary education
may be subject to political controversy, since it establishes a standard defining nationality or
Recently, efforts have begun to update grammar instruction in primary and secondary
education. The primary focus has been to prevent the use of outdated prescriptive rules in
favor of more accurate descriptive ones and to change perceptions about relative
"correctness" of standard forms in comparison to non standard dialects.
The pre-eminence of Parisian French has reigned largely unchallenged throughout the
history of modern French literature. Standard Italian is not based on the speech of the
capital, Rome, but on the speech of Florence because of the influence Florentines had on
early Italian literature. Similarly, standard Spanish is not based on the speech of Madrid, but
on the one of educated speakers from more northerly areas like Castile and León. In
Argentina and Uruguay the Spanish standard is based on the local dialects of Buenos Aires and
Montevideo (Rioplatense Spanish). Portuguese has for now two official written standards,
respectively Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese, but in a short term it will have a
The Serbian language is divided in a similar way; Serbia and the Republika Srpska use
their own separate standards. The existence of a third standard is a matter of controversy,
some consider Montenegrin as a separate language, and some think it's merely another variety
Norwegian has two standards, Bokmål and Nynorsk, the choice between which is
subject to controversy: Each Norwegian municipality can declare one of the two its official
language, or it can remain "language neutral". Nynorsk is endorsed by a minority of 27 percent
of the municipalities. The main language used in primary schools normally follows the official
language of its municipality, and is decided by referendum within the local school district.
Standard German emerged out of the standardized chancellery use of High German in the
16th and 17th centuries. Until about 1800, it was almost entirely a written language, but now
it is so widely spoken that most of the former German dialects are nearly extinct.
Standard Chinese has official status as the standard spoken form of the Chinese
language in the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Republic of China (ROC) and the
Republic of Singapore. Pronunciation of Standard Chinese is based on the Beijing dialect of
Mandarin Chinese, while grammar and syntax are based on modern vernacular written
Chinese. Modern Standard Arabic is directly based on Classical Arabic, the language of the
Qur'an. The Hindustani language has two standards, Hindi and Urdu.
In the United States, the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar designated
March 4 as National Grammar Day in 2008.