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BA English Language and French

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
English Word and Sentence Structure

Unit code LELA10301
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Linguistics & English Language
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course introduces a number of concepts and problems in English word and sentence structure. We study the relationship between form and meaning at the level of the word, considering the following topics: the word; derivation and inflection; bound versus free morphemes; roots and affixes; morphemes and allomorphs; suppletion; compounds; the notion of head. We also study lexical categories or word classes (noun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition and determiner); phrases (noun phrase, adjective and adverb phrase, verb phrase); the arrangement of words and phrases in well-formed English sentences; grammatical relations and functions (subject, object and predicate); the alternation of active and passive voice; various types of clauses.


Maximum entry unlimited. This course assumes no previous knowledge of English grammar. Students need not be native speakers of English, but a good command of the language is required. Not recommended for visiting students who have already studied grammar at university level.



The aim of this course is to introduce students to the meaning and structure of English words and to structural and functional properties of English sentences. Upon successful completion of the course unit students will have an understanding of the foundations of morphology and syntax as applied to the study of the English language. This course assumes no previous knowledge of English grammar.


Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course unit students will have an understanding of the foundations of morphology and syntax as applied to the study of the English language. They will have an appreciation of the difference between categories and functions, constituency, a number of grammatical categories, main and subordinate clauses, voice, the notions of word, morpheme, affix and root, derivation, inflection and compounding.


 Week 1 - Introduction to the course unit. What is grammar? What is morphology? The word.

Week 2 - Morphemes. Roots and affixes. Allomorphy.

Week 3 - Lexical categories. Inflection.

Week 4 - Derivation. Differences between inflection and derivation.

Week 5 - Compounds. Heads.


Week 7 - Phrases. Constituency. (More on) the noun phrase.

Week 8 – (More on) the verb phrase.

Week 9 – Categories vs. functions. Functions within the clause.

Week 10 - Voice. English sentence types.

Week 11 – Main and subordinate clauses. English clause types.

Week 12 - Revision. Preparation for the exam.

Teaching and learning methods

One two-hour lecture and one one-hour tutorial per week.

Knowledge and understanding

Upon successful completion of the course unit students should appreciate that English grammar can be studied by looking at any form of naturally occurring data. They should have an understanding of:

  • the formation of English phrases, clauses and sentences;
  • the difference between categories and functions;
  • the formation of the vocabulary of English;
  • the lexicon;
  • the relation between a word's structure and its meaning.

Intellectual skills

Students will acquire familiarity with linguistic argumentation. They will develop skills in problem-solving, constructing and refining an argument, recognising flaws in arguments, and assessing the merits of contrasting explanations, demonstrating problem-solving and data-gathering skills.

Practical skills

Students should grasp the relation between meaning and structure in English words. Students should be able to identify the functional constituents in English sentences and the categorial status of these constituents. Students should also be able to distinguish sentence types and recognise how these correspond to meaning types. 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Students should develop the skills required for successful self-directed study and learning, as well as appropriate time management skills.

Assessment methods





Assessment task


Weighting within unit

500-word essay (to be submitted at the end of week 6)


Multiple-choice examination (in January examination period)



1.5 hours





Feedback methods

In-class feedback on tutorial exercises. Online feedback on mid-semester essay.  

Recommended reading

o   Aronoff, Mark and Fudeman, Kirsten Anne. 2005. What is morphology? Wiley-Blackwell.

o   Borjars, Kersti and Burridge, Kate. 2001. Introducing English Grammar. London: Arnold. (Set text for syntax component of the course unit).

o   Brown, Keith and Miller, Kim. 2016. A Critical Account of English Syntax. Grammar, Meaning, Text. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

o   Carstairs-McCarthy, Andrew. 2002. An Introduction to English Morphology. Words and Their Structure. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. (Set text for morphology component of the course unit).

o   Coates, Richard. 1999. Word Structure. London: Routledge.

o   Fábregas, Antonio and Scalise, Sergio. 2012. Morphology. From Data to Theories. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

o   Haspelmath, Martin. 2002. Understanding Morphology. London: Arnold.

o   Lieber, Rochelle. 2010. Introducing Morphology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

o   Payne, T. 1997. Describing Morphosyntax. Cambridge University Press.

o   Stump, Gregory. 1998. Inflection. In Andrew Spencer and Arnold M. Zwicky (eds). The Handbook of Morphology. Oxford; Blackwell, pp. 13-33.

Tallerman, M. 2005. Understanding syntax. Hodder Arnold. 2nd edition.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Delia Bentley Unit coordinator

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