English and drama

Approaches to Grammar

Module code: Q1074
Level 4
30 credits in spring teaching
Teaching method: Lecture, Seminar, Workshop
Assessment modes: Unseen examination, Coursework

This module introduces you to descriptive grammar. You will explore questions such as: what do speakers know about the grammar of their language, consciously and unconsciously? How can we use speakers' knowledge to uncover the 'hidden rules' of language? What is the internal structure of words and how can we go about grouping words into categories so that we can label them and describe their general properties? How are words grouped together within a sentence?  What sorts of tests can we use to uncover and describe this internal structure of sentences? What does it mean to describe something as 'subject' or 'object'?  What kinds of grammatical differences distinguish a statement from a question or a command?  What's the difference between verbs like 'must' and 'love'? How are complex noun phrases structured? How can we identify clauses inside sentences, and what are they doing there?

This module will provide you with an understanding of the way in which words and sentences are constructed, and will equip you with the skills to break sentences down into their constituent parts, to construct and test hypotheses, and to represent sentence structure by means of tree diagrams.  The module will be based on English and other languages. 

Module learning outcomes

  • Define and explain basic concepts in (a) morphological analysis (with particular reference to word classes and the distinction between derivational and inflectional morphology) and (b) syntactic analysis (with particular reference to constituent structure, phrase structure, grammatical functions, clause types, and main and embedded clause structure).
  • Implement their knowledge of morphosyntax in the analysis of natural language data.
  • Compare and contrast Modern Standard English with other dialects and languages (with particular reference to morphosyntactic properties) and demonstrate a critical approach to the development of a descriptive grammar.
  • Form hypotheses, use evidence to test hypotheses, demonstrate research skills, produce a coherent written argument, and respect deadlines.