Do morphological and syntactical approaches to grammar instruction co-exist? I am writing a paper on the importance of clause structure in lexicogrammatical approaches to grammar instruction at the university level. Don't be cross if this question seems simplistic, but I am interested in your views on how comprehension of multi-clausal sentence structure helps university students write coherently .

  • 1
    @ThanyaR The title of your question is a bit misleading. The differentiation between syntax and morphology is a cross-linguistic one. Don't be cross, but this sounds to me like "help me with my homework". – user27758 May 18 '20 at 19:34
  • I'm presuming that you're speaking about instruction in English grammar (for ESL or for native speakers), rather than about instruction in linguistic syntactic theory. That limits instruction to English, which has practically no inflectional morphology. In that case, I'd say they can co-exist just fine, as long as the morphological approach is restricted to English inflection, and the syntactic approach handles everything that involves more than one word. – jlawler May 18 '20 at 20:04
  • 2
    @jlawler English does have morphology, which is not restricted to "s" as a distinctive feature for 3rd person Simple Present. It has "(e)d for Simple Past and "s" for plural. The fact that its morphology displays less differentiation vs other other languages does not justify the claim that it " has practically no inflectional morphology", in my opinion. – user27758 May 18 '20 at 20:11
  • 1
    There are nine inflectional morphemes in English. Three of these suffixes are identical in shape, and one of them is simply a zero suffix, except for one suppletive verb form. Two of the suffixes apply to some nouns, five to some verbs, and two to some adjectives. Compare this to, say, German, which has hundreds of inflections, arrayed in paradigms, applied to every use of every noun, verb, pronoun, and adjective in the language. Or Latin, with even more, or Sanskrit. – jlawler May 18 '20 at 23:35
  • Thank you for your comments. So , English is a 'syntactical language' in that meaning is carried more by syntax than by morphology. However, it seems that clauses are not systematically addressed in the ESL literature as units of meaning; rather, they are neglected in favor of focus on the components of the clause, such as verb forms, relative pronouns and 'voice' ( passive/active). Any thoughts? – TanyaR May 20 '20 at 15:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.