BA Linguistics and Social Anthropology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
English Word and Sentence Structure

Course unit fact file
Unit code LELA10301
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course unit introduces students to the grammar of English words and sentences. We start by discussing the building blocks of words and the rules that are applied in the formation of English words. We draw a distinction between two processes which are involved in the formation of English words: inflection and derivation. The study of derivation allows us to discuss word families. We then consider the principal parts of speech, or lexical categories (noun, adjective, verb, adverb and preposition), with focus on their coding and behaviour in the English language. We then move on to compounds and we introduce the notion of head. After reading week, we learn to break down English clauses into meaningful units or constituents. This gives us an opportunity to return to lexical categories and to study the types of phrase which are built upon the major categories (noun phrase, adjective phrase, verb phrase, prepositional phrase). Subsequently, we introduce the difference between categories and functions. The study of the functions subject and object leads us to draw a distinction between active and passive voice. Finally, we discuss the different types of clause (main and subordinate) and we consider how clauses join together to form different types of sentences.


This course assumes no previous knowledge of English grammar. Students mustbe able to read academic English to take this course.


The aim of this course unit is to introduce students to structural and functional properties of English words and 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. 

Teaching and learning methods

One two-hour lecture and one one-hour tutorial per week. (Tutorials start in week 2 of teaching).

E-Learning: All course material, including lecture handouts, practice exercises, links to electronically available readings, and course and assessment info will be made available on Blackboard. Students will be able to discuss all aspects of the course with their peers and the teaching staff both in lecture and tutorial time as well as in Peer Assisted Study Scheme sessions. 

Knowledge and understanding

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:
(a) the notions of word, morpheme, affix, root, derivation, inflection, head and compounding;
(b) the difference between categories and functions;
(c) a number of lexical categories and syntactic functions;
(d) constituency;
(e) main and subordinate clauses;
(f) voice;
(g) sentence types.

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 will enhance their competence in English grammar and their ability (a) to express themselves in a concise and clear manner and (b) to provide cogent evidence in support of an argument.

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. In the tutorials students will practise their team-working skills.

Employability skills

The ability to explain and argue clearly and concisely will enhance the students¿ chances of success in job interviews and in the work environment.

Assessment methods

Assessment TaskFormative or SummativeWeighting
Data Analysis AssignmentFormative and Summative40%
Online TestSummative60%



Feedback methods

Feedback methodFormative or Summative
In class feedback on tutorial exercisesFormative
Online feedback on mid-semester assignmentFormative and summative
Face-to-face feedback on exam (if requested by individual students)Summative


Recommended reading

  • Aronoff, Mark and Fudeman, Kirsten Anne. 2005. What is morphology? Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Borjars, Kersti and Burridge, Kate. 2010 [2001] Introducing English Grammar. London: Arnold. (Set text for syntax component of the course unit).
  • 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).
  • Coates, Richard. 1999. Word Structure. London: Routledge.
  • Fábregas, Antonio and Scalise, Sergio. 2012. Morphology. From Data to Theories. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Haspelmath, Martin. 2002. Understanding Morphology. London: Arnold.
  • Lieber, Rochelle. 2010. Introducing Morphology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Payne, T. 1997.Describing Morphosyntax. Cambridge University Press.
  • 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
eAssessment 2
Lectures 22
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 166

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Delia Bentley Unit coordinator

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