Cambridge English Grammar Essay

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A SHORT OVERVIEW OF ENGLISH SYNTAX
Based on The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

Emeritus Professor Rodney Huddleston,
Honorary Research Consultant, The University of Queensland

This paper presents a brief account of English syntax based on The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language,[1] providing an overview of the main constructions and categories in the language. The present version is intended primarily for members of the English Teachers' Association of Queensland (ETAQ), offering an alternative approach to that presented in the 2007 volume of their journal Words`Worth by Lenore Ferguson under the title `Grammar at the Coalface' - in particular the articles `The structural basics' (March 2007) and `Functional elements in a clause' (June 2007). I make use of concepts discussed in my own Words'Worth paper `Aspects of grammar: functions, complements and inflection' (March 2008), and take over Functional Grammar's useful convention of distinguishing between functions and classes by using an initial capital letter for the former: thus Subject is the name of a function, noun phrase the name of a class.

1 SENTENCE AND CLAUSE
We distinguish two main types of sentence: a clausal sentence, which has the form of a single clause, and a compound sentence, which has the form of two or more coordinated clauses, usually joined by a coordinator (such as and, or, but):

[] Sue went to London last week. [clausal sentence]
          Sue went to London last week and her father went with her. [compound sentence]

Note that such an example as We stayed at the hotel which you recommended is also a clausal sentence even though it contains two clauses. This is because one clause, which you recommended,   is part of the other, rather than separate from it (more specifically, the which you recommended is part of the noun phrase the hotel which you recommended); the larger clause is thus We stayed at the hotel which you recommended, and this does...

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