All grammar syntax rules (afaik) pertain to words in the same sentence. For example, a complete sentence must have a subject and a verb. But there must be rules for structures larger than the sentence. For example, take the following sentence:

We may put this in another way.

The reader knows that the sentence refers to something written previously. But would the writer be breaking a grammatical rule if he started an essay with this sentence? He would have to be breaking a rule of some sort -- but if this rule is not grammatical, of what sort is it?

  • 3
    Look into Information Structure. It's less syntax that governs the relationship between sentences but instead pragmatics.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 21:34
  • Reference and presupposition covers any multi-sentence utterance, but neither of them is primarily syntactic, but rather pragmatic. Fillmore's construction theories treat the contextual frame as the operative structure in which utterances occur, leading to Framenet.
    – jlawler
    Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 23:54
  • irisreading.com/… James Joyce's Molly Bloom dialogue: "Often cited for being the longest sentence ever written is one by author James Joyce. In his novel Ulysses, the character Molly Bloom has a monologue that goes on for 36 pages and has a total of 3,687 words. The only reason that a sentence this long works is because it is a *monologue. Molly is speaking her thoughts out loud, and when combined with other punctuation, it is easy to follow along." So punctuation of monologues.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 15:19

3 Answers 3


I think the answer you are looking for is reference cohesion (comparatives). The sentence provided seems to be grammatically and lexically cohesive, but not very coherent. There is no reference to the "way" before the "another way" in the sentence "We may put this in another way.". So, the sentence fails to establish semantic relations with potential following sentences and it does not serve a purpose in text making it incoherent.

Cohesive ties and coherence elements are not rigid rules, but they allow a text to be understood in a real-world setting.

For more information you can read Cohesion in English (Halliday & Hasan 1976).


In principle, a compound sentence is in a grey area between sentence and text. However, I am not aware of syntax rules that regulate this area, except of the question of how to connect the sentences (there's the syntactic item "and"). There are phonological rules that go beyond syntactic clauses (e.g. "It's late. I'm leaving" is treated as one unit, according to Nespor & Vogel (2007), Prosodic Phonology, ch. 8). But again, that's not syntax.


The heart of your question is "what is the difference between grammar and human (body & mind)?". Death threats break a rule (a law), me calling you a jerk would break a rule (don't be unnecessarily rude on SE), painting a house lipstick-pink breaks a rule of aesthetics, and so on. Your example may or may not break a social rule regarding informativeness and making reasonable assumptions regarding shared knowledge in communications. Linguistics faced this problem of the interface between mind and language in the 60's when it had to decide whether "My toothbrush is trying to kill me" or "I dreamt that my toothbrush is trying to kill me" are grammatical. It is generally accepted now that rules of grammar are only a fraction of the regularities (rules) that relate to language.

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