I've studied syntax out of Kroeger's Analyzing Grammar, so I'm familiar with the basic ideas of generative syntax, like trees, constituent structure, and syntactic categories. I later read a paper that analyzed Spanish datives using Lexical Functional Grammar, so I bought Falk's Lexical Functional Grammar to understand LFG, but found there was a gap between the knowledge of syntax that Falk assumes and what I had. I'm looking for a work that summarizes the modern theory of syntax so I can fill in that gap—something between Kroeger and Falk.

None of the material I've found on Wikipedia or other obvious online sources has been good enough for my purposes; not only does Wikipedia not delve deep enough, it also often seems to assume the reader is familiar with the entire Chomsky oeuvre and explains one difficult concept in terms of another one, which is, in its own article, explained in terms of the first one. Wikipedia lacks depth, lacks examples, and lacks exercises; the first two, at least, are things I can't do without.

I'm not looking for "X-bar theory for dummies"; I'm looking for a survey of modern syntax, including X-bar theory, aimed at upper-division undergraduates or first-year graduate students of linguistics. Falk says in his preface that "it is assumed the reader is familiar with [...] contemporary derivational syntactic theory (Government/Binding theory and/or the Minimalist Program)"; I'm not familiar with contemporary derivational syntactic theory, so I'm looking for a work by an expert which summarizes the theory in a readable, but technically precise, way, something like what a linguistics professor might assign to third- or fourth-year undergraduates for an advanced theory of syntax class.

  • You may have heard of Wikipedia?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 4:59
  • @curiousdannii Wikipedia simultaneously does not go deep enough and does not explain itself well enough on this topic for my taste.
    – tsleyson
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 23:17
  • @curiousdannii I've edited the question to clarify what I'm looking for and why Wikipedia did not fulfill my needs.
    – tsleyson
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 23:40
  • I'd personally recommend David Adger's textbook 'Core Syntax'.
    – P Elliott
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 1:35
  • @PElliott Thanks, it looks like another good choice, especially given that I seem to be a little above the level of the reviewers on Amazon who complained that it was too advanced.
    – tsleyson
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 20:34

1 Answer 1


Radford's Syntax: A Minimalist Introduction was the textbook in my first-year graduate student syntax seminar. As the title implies, it doesn't touch on anything outside Minimalism, but you might still find it useful.

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