An authoritative, self-contained introduction to the subject for students who have had no prior coursework in syntactic theory.
English Syntax is an authoritative, self-contained introduction to the subject for students who have had no prior coursework in syntactic theory. The detailed revisions throughout this new edition are aimed at increasing its clarity and usefulness. There are changes in almost every chapter, including a large number of new exercises and several new subsections. In addition there are two new appendixes, the first sketching the relation of English syntax to the wider field of generative syntactic theory, the second summarizing the basic syntactic structures discussed in the body of the text.
Specific changes include a fuller discussion, at the beginning of chapter 3, of the difference between complements and modifiers; a more systematic introduction to tree diagrams and what they express, at the end of chapter 3; a new subsection in chapter 4 on how to analyze complex structures; a new discussion of the general nature of missing-phrase constructions in chapter 9; a significant revision of the discussion of comparative clauses in chapter 12; a new discussion of the scope of negation in chapter 15; and, in chapter 16, a new discussion of practical strategies for analyzing conjoined structures.
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This book is fantastically comprehensive, but much more for linguists than teachers. Although I had no difficulty with it personally many students who did not share my linguistic background struggled to understand the text and how it could apply to their teaching contexts. Interestingly enough, they ultimately found it useful for teaching ESL/EFL once they trudged through it, while I found it less practical for pre-service or in-service teachers.
It is thoroughly descriptive of the English language but does not discuss many colloquial structures that are harder to represent in tree diagrams, and it gave little advice in teaching standard or colloquial structures to students. Still, it is definitely a good resource for teachers to have under their belts as background knowledge. However, if you don't have a linguistic background, I suggest starting with something more basic, like Understanding English Grammar, by Martha Kolln and Robert Funk.
Heads and Their Complements
Modification of Verb Phrases and Sentences