I'll be teaching an introductory course on the morphology and syntax (and perhaps phonetics/phonology, though perhaps not) of English to undergrads in a large public, urban college in the US. I could use some suggestions for a good textbook.

I am looking for something that balances rigor with clarity. If the past is any guide, my students will have no background in linguistics at all, and will likely be stymied by basic parts of speech all semester long.

I am also looking for something that is not too expensive. My students tend to have limited budgets, and a $100 textbook is a textbook that won't be purchased.

I am open to a textbook that introduces linguistics generally (like Fromkin, et al.) as long the chapters on morphology and syntax are sufficient. A few semesters ago, I used Curzan & Adams, but it was not rigorous enough. Clearly written and engaging, but just not enough detail. A more detailed one might work. General introductions, however, tend to be more expensive than intros to grammar and are often pitched a bit higher than I think my students would be ready for.

I was thinking about Kolln, but her choice to pepper the book with Reed-Kellogg diagrams instead of constituency trees annoys me. If I'm going to make my students diagram sentences, I'd rather not use a system that is more or less obsolete.

FWIW, I've looked at this question here: Textbook suggestions for syntax, semantics/pragmatics and phonetics/phonology. The OP was asking for introductory texts suitable for a potential graduate student. I'm asking for something suitable for an undergrad who aims to teach English Language Arts in a public middle or high school. This will be their first linguistics class, and for many their last.


readinglist - linguistics


  • Mike Davenport, S. J. Hannahs. Introducing Phonetics and Phonology. (2005).
  • Peter Ladefoged, Keith Johnson. A Course in Phonetics. (2011).
  • Richard Ogden. An Introduction to English Phonetics. (2009).


  • Philip Carr. Phonology. (1993).
  • Bruce Hayes. Introductory Phonology. (2009).
  • John Jensen. Principles of Generative Phonology. (2004).
  • Paul de Lacy. The Cambridge Handbook of Phonology. (2007).
  • David Odden - Introducing Phonology. (2005).


  • Mark Aronoff, Kirsten Fudeman. _What is Morphology? (2011).
  • Geert Booij. The Grammar of Words: An Introduction to Linguistic Morphology. (2011).
  • Martin Haspelmath, Andrea D. Sims. Understanding Morphology. (2010).
  • Rochelle Lieber. Introducing Morphology. (2009).
  • Thomas E. Payne. Describing Morphosyntax: A Guide For Field Linguists. (1997)


  • Andrew Carnie. Syntax: A Generative Introduction. (2006).
  • Paul R. Kroeger. Analyzing Grammar: An Introduction. (2005).
  • T. Givón. Syntax: An Introduction. 2 vols. (2001)
  • Andrew Radford. Minimalist Syntax Revisited. (2006).
  • Maggie Tallerman. Understanding Syntax. (2011).
  • Robert D. Van Valin, Jr. An Introduction to Syntax. (2004).

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