Discourse analysis and grammar study
familiar terms like :clause , pronoun,
adverbial and conjunction and attempt to
relate them to a less familiar set of terms :
theme, rheme , reference and anaphoric ,
in order to make link between grammar
Spoken and written discourses display
grammatical connexions between
individual clauses and utterances.
These grammatical links can be classified
under three broad types :
Reference or co- reference
The term reference is traditionally used in
semantics to define the relationship between a
word and what it points to in the real world, but
in Halliday and Hasan’s (1976) model it simply
refers to the relationship between two
Reference as an act by which a speaker (or
writer) uses language to enable a listener (or
reader) to identify something.
(Looking outward- outside the text).
The referent is not in the immediate
context but is assumed by the
speaker/writer to be part of a shared
world, in terms of knowledge and
For he's a jolly good fellow and so say
all of us.
As outsiders, we don’t know who the he
is, but, most likely, the people involved
in the celebration are aware of the he
that is being referred to, and therefore,
can find texture in the sentences.
References to elements in the text are
called Endophoric references.
Endophoric referencing can be divided
into two areas:
refers to any reference that “points
backwards” to previously mentioned
information in text. Usually items such : as
he/she or them ,it, this , can be decoded
without major difficulty.
Tom likes ice cream but Bill can’t eat it.
The teacher asked Ahmad to read so he read.
Refers to any reference that “points
forward” to information that will be
presented later in the text.
When I met her, Mary looked ill.
Here is the news. The Prime Minister . .
Functionally speaking, there are three
main types of cohesive references:
Personal reference keeps track of function
through the speech situation using noun,
pronouns like “he, him, she, her”, etc. and
possessive determiners like “mine, yours, his,
The prime minister has resigned. He
announced his decision this morning.
Demonstrative reference keeps track of
information through location using
proximity references like “this, these,
that, those, here, there, then, and the”.
I always buy a lot of books when I am in
England. There are many lovely
Comparative reference keeps track of identity
and similarity through indirect references
using adjectives like “same, equal, similar,
different, else, better, more”, etc.
Adverbs like “so, such, similarly, otherwise,
so, more”, etc.
A similar view is not acceptable.
We did the same.
So they said.
Whereas referencing functions to link
semantic meanings within text, substitution
and ellipsis differ in that they operate as a
linguistic link at the lexicogrammatical
Substitution and ellipsis are used when “a
speaker or writer wishes to avoid the
repetition of a lexical item and draw on one
of the grammatical resources of the
language to replace the item”.
substitution is the replacement of a
word or phrase with a "filler" word (such
as one, so, or do) to avoid repetition.
There are three general ways of
substituting in a sentence:
So / not
In nominal substitution , the most
typical substitution words are:
“one and ones” .
e.g., Let's go and see the bears. The
polar ones are over on that rock.
This car is mine, but that one is yours.
In verbal substitution, the most common
substitute is the verb “do” which is sometimes
used in conjunction with “so” as in “do so”.
e.g., Did Mary take that letter? She might have
Do/do not and auxiliaries.
She can drive the car, but I cannot.
She wrote the homework , but I did not
In clausal substitution, an entire clause is
substituted by "So, not"
E.g., I believe so.
Everyone thinks he’s guilty. If so, no doubt
We should recognise him when we see him.
Yes, but supposing not: what do we do?
Ellipsis (zero substitution) is the omission of
elements normally required by the grammar which
the speaker/writer assumes are obvious from the
context and therefore need not be raised.
E.g., Do you want to hear another song? I know
twelve more [songs]
Sue brought roses and Jackie [brought] lilies.
I ran 5 miles on the first day and 8 [miles] on the
Ellipsis within the nominal group or the
common noun that may be omitted and
the function of head taken on by one of
Nelly liked the green tiles; I preferred
An elliptical verbal group presupposes one
or more words from a previous verbal
group. Technically, it is defined as a verbal
group whose structure does not fully
express its systematic feature. Example:
a) Have you been swimming? – Yes, I
b) What have you been doing? –
A Clause in English, considered as the expression of the
various speech functions, such as statement, question,
response and so on, has a two-part structure consisting
of modal element plus propositional element. For
E.g., The Duke was going to plant a row of poplars in
Halliday and Hasan also say that the principle of
clausal ellipsis is general to all types of questions (1976:
Conjunction acts as a cohesive tie
between clauses or sections of text in
such a way as to demonstrate a
meaningful pattern between them.
Conjunctions are not a way of simply
joining sentences. Their role in the text
is wider than that, because they provide
the listener/reader with information for
the interpretation of the utterance; that
is why some linguists prefer to describe
them as discourse markers.
Hallday ( 1985) offers a scheme for the
classification of conjunctive relations
and includes over forty conjunctive
Here is a simplified list based on
Halliday’s category headings:
What type of cohesive devices have these
She studied match hardly as a result she passed
Are you laughing? Yes, I am
Are you eating dinner? No, washing up
My reasons are as follows: One, I don’t . . ….
The government are supposed to solve the
problems of the people
The blankets needed to be cleaned. Yes they did
Halliday, M.A.K. and Ruqaiya Hasan Language,
context, and text: aspects of language in a social-semiotic
perspective. Oxford: Oxford University
Cohesion and Coherence: Linguistic Approaches
591. Halliday M A K & IHasan R (1976). Cohesion in
English. London: Longman. Havilland S E 86
Clark H ..
McCarthy, M. 1991. Discourse Analysis and
Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge