Syntax

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  • 1. What isWhat is Syntax?Syntax?
  • 2. Syntax is the way words and clauses are arranged to form sentences. That arrangement contributes to and enhances meaning and effect.
  • 3. Or more simply: It’s how authors put words and phrases together. Syntax helps authors effectively make their points.
  • 4. One thing Syntax does is control pacing. But how does an author do that with words and sentences?
  • 5. In order to quicken the pace, the author will use shorter, simpler sentences. In order to slow down the pace, the author will use longer, more complex and convoluted sentences.
  • 6. When analyzing syntax, consider such questions as: Are the sentences simple and direct, or complex and convoluted? Does the author use repetition or parallel structure for emphasis? (Note: Always say what is emphasized and why.) Are there rhetorical questions in the passage?
  • 7. Arrangement of Ideas – Are ideas set out in a special way for a purpose or effect? Loose sentence: The main point is at the beginning ex. We reached Edmonton that morning after a turbulent flight and some exciting experiences. Periodic sentence: The main point is at the end (near the period). ex. That morning, after a turbulent flight and some exciting experiences, we reached Edmonton.
  • 8. Parallel structure: Grammatical or structural similarity between sentences or parts of a sentence. It involves an arrangement of words, phrases, sentences, or paragraphs so that elements of equal importance are equally developed and similarly phrased. Wrong: In the winter, I like skiing and to skate. Right: In the winter, I like skiing and skating. Right: In the winter, I like to ski and to skate. Additional ex. He was the kind of man who knew what he wanted, who intended to get it, and who allowed nothing to stand in his way.
  • 9. Natural order sentence: A sentence that follows the order: Subject – Verb - Object ex. Oranges grow in California. Inverted order sentence: a sentence where the predicate (main verb) comes before the subject. ex. In California grow oranges. Slightly inverted sentences may simply move the object in front of the subject and verb. ex. In California oranges grow. An author will vary word order for an effect. It is your job to decide what effect the author is trying to achieve
  • 10. Sentence Classifications: Consider the following four basic types in examining sentence structures Declarative: Makes a statement ex. The king is sick. Imperative: Gives a command ex. Bow to the king. Interrogative: Asks a question ex. What’s the matter with the king? Exclamatory: Makes an exclamation ex. The king is dead!
  • 11. Four Basic Structures Simple sentence: One independent clause* ex. The singer bowed to her adoring audience. Compound sentence: Two or more independent clauses (joined by a comma with a coordinating conjunction—and, but, for, or, nor, yet, so—or a semicolon) ex. The singer bowed gratefully to the audience, but she sang no encores. ex. The singer bowed gratefully to the audience; however, she sang no encores. *An independent clause has a subject and a verb, and can stand alone because it has a complete thought
  • 12. Complex sentence: One independent clause and one or more dependent (subordinate) clauses.* ex. Although the singer bowed gratefully to the audience, she sang no encores. Compound-complex sentence: Two or more independent clauses and at least one dependent (subordinate) clause. ex. The singer bowed gratefully while the audience applauded, but she sang no encores. * A dependent (subordinate) clause has a subject and a verb; however, it cannot stand alone because it does not have a complete thought.
  • 13. Always look for the anomalies – that is, the things that are different from regular writing.
  • 14. And remember – syntactically, you create emphasis by: Position – Where you put something in the sentence Isolation – Setting it off by itself (dash, quotation marks, parenthesis, etc.) Repetition – The number of times something is repeated Proportion – The size of the idea and how much of the piece the idea takes up
  • 15. Authors do these things on purpose. Do not assume sentences are composed without the rules of syntax in mind.
  • 16. So let’s look at a paragraph by Nancy Mairs-----
  • 17. I am a cripple. I choose this word to name me. I choose from among several possibilities, the most common of which are “handicapped” and “disabled.” I made the choice a number of years ago, without thinking, unaware of my motives for doing so. Even now, I’m not sure what those motives are, but I recognize that they are complex and not entirely flattering. People – crippled or not – wince at the word “cripple,” as they do not at “handicapped” or disabled.” Perhaps I want them to wince. I want them to see me as a tough customer, one to whom the fates/gods/viruses have not been kind, but who can face the brutal truth of her existence squarely. As a cripple, I swagger.
  • 18. What’s the first unusual thing that you notice? The sentence: I am a cripple.
  • 19. Why does the author use this short sentence in the first position? To draw attention to the politically incorrect word “cripple.” And why use that diction choice? To shock, and to show that even though people don’t call her this to her face, the word is always present.
  • 20. So what do you notice next? What else is different?
  • 21. I am a cripple. I choose this word to name me. I choose from among several possibilities, the most common of which are “handicapped” and “disabled.” I made the choice a number of years ago, without thinking, unaware of my motives for doing so. Even now, I’m not sure what those motives are, but I recognize that they are complex and not entirely flattering. People – crippled or not – wince at the word “cripple,” as they do not at “handicapped” or disabled.” Perhaps I want them to wince. I want them to see me as a tough customer, one to whom the fates/gods/viruses have not been kind, but who can face the brutal truth of her existence squarely. As a cripple, I swagger.
  • 22. Remember: Isolation and Repetition The dashes isolate and bring extra attention to the words “crippled or not” more forcefully than commas would. Also, notice the continued repetition of the word “crippled.” Perhaps if you confront the word, you will eventually be able to look at her, the person, not just her, the cripple.
  • 23. So what do you notice next? What else is different?
  • 24. I am a cripple. I choose this word to name me. I choose from among several possibilities, the most common of which are “handicapped” and “disabled.” I made the choice a number of years ago, without thinking, unaware of my motives for doing so. Even now, I’m not sure what those motives are, but I recognize that they are complex and not entirely flattering. People – crippled or not – wince at the word “cripple,” as they do not at “handicapped” or disabled.” Perhaps I want them to wince. I want them to see me as a tough customer, one to whom the fates/gods/viruses have not been kind, but who can face the brutal truth of her existence squarely. As a cripple, I swagger.
  • 25. Repetition – harsh word – wince Why? Perhaps to show you that you aren’t the only one who is uncomfortable by someone who is crippled. She is still a person – look past the condition to the person.
  • 26. So what do you notice next? What else is different?
  • 27. I am a cripple. I choose this word to name me. I choose from among several possibilities, the most common of which are “handicapped” and “disabled.” I made the choice a number of years ago, without thinking, unaware of my motives for doing so. Even now, I’m not sure what those motives are, but I recognize that they are complex and not entirely flattering. People – crippled or not – wince at the word “cripple,” as they do not at “handicapped” or disabled.” Perhaps I want them to wince. I want them to see me as a tough customer, one to whom the fates/gods/viruses have not been kind, but who can face the brutal truth of her existence squarely. As a cripple, I swagger.
  • 28. Position: fates/gods/viruses Note the use of slashes (/) to juxtapose and jam these words right up next to each other. The slashes allow the words to have equal emphasis while “hitting you all at once.”
  • 29. So what do you notice next? What else is different?
  • 30. I am a cripple. I choose this word to name me. I choose from among several possibilities, the most common of which are “handicapped” and “disabled.” I made the choice a number of years ago, without thinking, unaware of my motives for doing so. Even now, I’m not sure what those motives are, but I recognize that they are complex and not entirely flattering. People – crippled or not – wince at the word “cripple,” as they do not at “handicapped” or disabled.” Perhaps I want them to wince. I want them to see me as a tough customer, one to whom the fates/gods/viruses have not been kind, but who can face the brutal truth of her existence squarely. As a cripple, I swagger.
  • 31. What did the author do here? Position – Last sentence gets more attention Use of short declarative sentence adds power. Repetition – “cripple” Also notice the diction choice of “swagger”
  • 32. Syntax often goes unnoticed by the reader, but contributes strongly to the readers impression of the topic presented.
  • 33. Finally Thanks a bunch for your attention