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Understanding Sentence Structure: An Introduction to English Syntax

Understanding Sentence Structure: An Introduction to English Syntax

Christina Tortora

ISBN: 978-1-118-65948-9

May 2018, Wiley-Blackwell

368 pages




A straightforward guide to understanding English grammar

This book is for people who have never thought about syntax, and who don’t know anything about grammar, but who want to learn. Assuming a blank slate on the part of the reader, the book treats English grammar as a product of the speaker’s mind, and builds up student skills by exploring phrases and sentences with more and more complexity, as the chapters proceed.

This practical guide excites and empowers readers by guiding them step by step through each chapter with intermittent exercises. In order to capitalize on the reader’s confidence as a personal authority on English, Understanding Sentence Structure assumes an inclusive definition of English, taking dialect variation as a given. A consistent effort is made throughout to avoid pathologizing uses and structures which we know to be common amongst millions of English speakers. The finer points of what counts as “dialect” and what counts as accepted academic English is backgrounded in Side Notes.

  • Situates grammar as part of what the student already unconsciously knows
  • Presupposes no prior instruction, not even in prescriptive grammar
  • Begins analyzing sentences immediately, with the “big picture” (sentences have structure, structure can be ambiguous) and moves through levels of complexity, tapping into students’ tacit knowledge of sentence structure
  • Includes exercise boxes for in-chapter practicing of skills, side notes that offer further tips/encouragement on topics being discussed, and new terms defined immediately and helpfully in term boxes
  • Applies decades of findings in syntactic theory and cognitive science, with an eye towards making English grammar accessible to school teachers and beginning students alike

Understanding Sentence Structure: An Introduction to English Syntax is an ideal book for undergraduates studying modern English grammar and for instructors teaching introductory courses in English grammar, syntax, and sentence structure.