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Publié par
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Langue English
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Filozofická fakulta
Katedra anglistiky a amerikanistiky

Aleš Svoboda

Lectures on English syntax

Handouts for lectures on English syntax
for the second year students of English

Ostrava 2004
Lekto ři: Prof. PhDr. Stanislav Kavka, CSc.,
Ostravská univerzita, Filozofická fakulta

Doc. PhDr. Pavel Kolá ř, CSc.,
Slezská univerzita v Opav ě,
Filozoficko-p řírodov ědecká fakulta


Publikace p ředstavuje soubor anglických handout ů k autorovým
p řednáškám z anglické syntaxe. Jedná se o veškerý p říkladový
materiál, analyzovaná souv ětí, názorné grafy a další údaje, jejichž
p řítomnost šet ří čas pro výklad vyu čujícího. Sou částí souboru je
detailní vý čet témat k ústní zkoušce a odborná bibliografie.

© Prof. PhDr. Aleš Svoboda, DrSc., 2004
© Ostravská univerzita v Ostrav ě, 2004

ISBN 80-7368-019-X


In recent years the book market has considerably changed in both
content and scope. Students of English can easily find a number of
English grammars, both practical and academic, in any bookshop of
some reputation. Under these circumstances I didn't think it necessary
to write a special textbook of English syntax for the university
students, because I was convinced that the way of presenting syntactic
topics by means of computer-printed transparencies projected on the
screen during the lectures, with all the key concepts and examples
being commented on, would form a reliable background against
which the students might be able to read syntactic passages in
grammars and papers on special syntactic issues without difficulty.
What actually happened, however, was that – instead of following the
pointer spot on the screen and listening to the commentary with an
occasional note made in their copybooks – the students were
constantly busy with copying examples, diagrams, and charts with
hardly any time to follow the explanation or to see the different
aspects of the issue under discussion.
Lead by the intention to deprive the students of the self-imposed
burden of copying my transparencies, I decided to publish them in the
form of a booklet. I should like to emphasize the fact that this
publication is not a textbook. It is exactly what its title says: handouts
for lectures on English syntax. I hope my students will find them

December 2004
The Author.

3 Lecture topics (identical to oral exam topics)
and basic references

Topic 1 – General introduction (p. 10)
• Grammarians and grammars
• Prescriptive and descriptive grammars
• The relation of morphology and syntax in English
• Syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations

Topic 2 – Sentence and sentence elements (p. 16)
• Multiple sentences: compound and complex sentences
• Complex sentence and clause
• Sentence or clause elements: Subject, Verb, Object,
Complement, Adverbial
• Object versus Adverbial in English

Topic 3 – Noun Phrase (NP) (p.18)
• Basic noun phrase
• Determinatives: determiners, predeterminers, postdeterminers
• Head
• Complex noun phrase
• Modifiers: premodifiers and postmodifiers
• The term “attribute”
• Prepositional noun phrase and other types of phrase
• The place of noun phrases and other phrases in the syntactic

Topic 4 – Verb Phrase (VP) (p.24)
• Verb and the type of clause (verb pattern, clause pattern)
• Verb classes: copulas, transitives, intransitives
• Copulative verbs (linking verbs) – copulas
• Transitive verbs: monotransitives, ditransitives, complex
• Intransitive verbs
• Transitivity versus intransitivity of verbs in English and in Czech

4 Topic 5 –Tense, aspect, and mood (p. 30)
• Tense and aspect
• Mood in Czech and mood in English
• Sequence of tenses
• Broad (intentional) and narrow modality
• Narrow modality in English

Topic 6 – Broad (intentional) modality (p. 37)
• Formal and functional view (M.A.K. Halliday)
• Questions: yes-no questions (also negative yes-no questions), tag
questions, wh-questions
• Minor types of question: alternative, nonfinite, verbless, elided,
declarative, exclamatory, rhetorical
• Commands (directives): without subject, with subject, with let,
negative commands, with modal verbs, verbless
• Exclamations (exclamatives)

Topic 7 – Negation (p. 42)
• Clause negation and partial negation (clause member negation)
• Ambiguities
• Words with negative meaning
• Neutral character of the English verb

Topic 8 – Word order in statements (p. 44)
• Basic word order
• Optional Adverbials
• Verb-Subject order
• Word order of Objects
• Word order of Adverbials
• Statement tags and short answers
• The passive voice transformation
• Unmarked and marked word order in Czech and in English
5 Topic 9 – Clause elements and cohesion (p.50)
• Clause elements concord of number, person, and gender
• Cohesion: reference, elision, substitution, and repetition
• Pro-forms (substitutions)
• Ellipses (elisions)

Topic 10 – Coordination and subordination (p. 55)
• Coordination (parataxis)
• Subordination (hypotaxis)
• Syntactic roles of subordinate clauses (subject, subject compl.,
object, object compl., and adverbial clauses; relative clauses)

Topic 11 – Finite, nonfinite, and verbless clauses (p. 58)
• Finite clauses (the issue of the finite verb-form in English)
• Nonfinite clauses: to-infinitive clauses, bare infinitive clauses,
-ing clauses, -ed clauses
• Direct Object and nonfinite clauses (to-infinitive, bare infinitive,
-ing and -ed clauses)
• Verbless clauses

Topic 12 – Relative clauses (p. 64)
• Restrictive (defining) relative clauses – no commas
• Non-restrictive (non-defining) relative clauses
• Coordination and apposition
• Appositive relative clauses
• Nominal “relative” clauses
• Sentential relative clauses

Topic 13 – Adverbial clauses (I) (p. 68)
• Clauses of time
• Clauses of place
• of cause and reason
• Clauses of purpose (purpose clauses or final clauses):
with the same subject, with a different subject
• Result clauses (consequence clauses)
6 Topic 14 – Adverbial clauses (II) (p. 70)
• Conditional clauses and their conjunctions
• Real (open) condition (in the future, at present, and in the past)
• Unreal (hypothetical) condition (at present and in the past)
• The basic use of tenses in complex sentences containing
conditional clauses
• Subject-Verb inversion in conditional clauses
• Nonfinite conditional clauses
• Rhetorical conditional clauses

Topic 15 – Adverbial clauses (III) (p. 73)
• Concessive clauses
• Clauses of contrast
• Clauses of similarity and comparison
• Clauses of proportion and clauses of preference
• of exception
• Comment clauses (parentheses)

Topic 16 – Punctuation (p. 76)
• Heavy and light punctuators in English
• Comma in English and in Czech
• Semicolon, colon, full stop (period)
• Exclamation mark (exclamation point), question mark
• Dash versus hyphen (graphic difference, difference in use)
• Apostrophe
• Inverted commas (quotation marks) in English and in Czech
• Round brackets (parentheses), square brackets
• Slash (virgule)

Topic 17– Generative and Transformational Grammar (p. 82)
• Noam Chomsky and his algorithmic idea: S → NP+VP
• Sentence generation from a set of rewriting rules
• Sentence as a tree diagram: nodes and branches
• Transformations
• Surface structure and deep structure

7 Topic 18 – Functional Sentence Perspective (FSP) (p. 86)
• The Prague Linguistics Circle (1926-1953) – functional approach
• Vilém Mathesius (1882-1945) and his “aktuální člen ění”
• Jan Firbas (1921-2000) – Functional sentence perspective (FSP)
• Bipartition, tripartition, pluripartition
• Theme, Transition, and Rheme
• Four factors of FSP: linearity, semantics, context, and intonation
• The Fall-and-Rise intonation in English
• The interplay of the four factors of FSP

Topic 19 – Text linguistics and discourse analysis (p. 96)
• Written and spoken discourse (J. Vachek)
• Cohesion and coherence (M. A. K. Halliday and R. Hasan)
• Text organization (F. Daneš’ thematic progressions)
• Conversational analysis (turn-taking, adjacency pairs)

Topic 20 – Pragmatics and pragmalinguistics (p. 101)
• Ch. Morris: syntactics, semantics, pragmatics
• Indexical expressions
• Speech acts (J. Austin and J. R. Searle)
• Semantics versus pragmatics
• The Cooperative Principle (CP) (H. P. Grice)
• The Principle of Politeness (PP) (G. N. Leech)
• The operation of tact (an example)
• The Modesty Maxim and intercultural studies

For English grammars see Topic 1
Further sources:
Austin, J. (1962): How To Do Things With Words. Oxford: Clarendon
Daneš, F. (ed.) (1974): Functional sentence perspective and the
organization of the text. In Daneš, F. (ed.): Papers on functional
sentence perspective. Prague: Academia, pp. 106-128.
8 Daneš, F. (1994): Ostavec jako centrální jednotka tematicko-
kompozi ční výstavby textu (na materiále text ů výkladových).
Slovo a slovesnost, 55, pp. 1–17.
Firbas, J. (1992): Functional sentence perspective in written and
spoken communication. Cambridge University Press.
Halliday, M. A. K. and R. Hasan (1976): Cohesion in English.
London: Longman.
Leech, G. N. (1983): Principles of Pragmatics. London and New
Levinson, S. C. (1983): Pragmatics. Cambridge University Press.
Mathesius, V. (1939): O takzvaném aktuálním člen ění v ěty. Slovo a
slovesnost, 5, pp. 171-174, reprinted in Mathesius, V. (1982):
Jazyk, kultura a slovesnost. (Ed. J. Vachek.) Prague: Odeon, pp.
Mathesius, V. (1942): Ze srovnávacích studií slovosledných. Časopis
pro moderní filologii, 28, pp. 181-190, 302-307.
Morris, Ch. W. (1938): Foundations of the Theory of Signs. Chicago.
Reprinted in Morris (1971): Writings on the General Theory of
Signs. The Hague: Mouton.
Searle, J. R. (1969): Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of
Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Svoboda. A. (1989): Kapitoly z funk ční syntaxe. Prague.
Štekauer, P. (ed.) (2000): Rudiments of English Linguistics. Prešov.
Tárnyiková, J. (2000): Pragmatics. In Štekauer (ed.) (2000), Chapter
6, pp. 271-312.
Vachek, J. (1959): Two chapters on written English. Brno Studies in
English, 1, s. 7-38.
Vachek, J. (1989): Written language revisited. Amsterdam:
9 Topic 1 – General introduction

Grammarians and grammars

Grammars on historical principles

JESPERSEN, O. (1909-1949): A Modern English Grammar on
Historical Principles I - VII. Copenhagen – London.
CURME, G. O. (1931, 1935): A Grammar of the English Language III,
Syntax; A Grammar of the English Language II, Parts of Speech
and Accidence. Boston.

Academic grammars

Grammar of Contemporary English. London.
QUIRK, R. and S. GREENBAUM (1979): A University Grammar of
English. London.
Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London.
GREENBAUM, S. and R. QUIRK (1990): A Student's Grammar of the
English Language. London.
DUŠKOVÁ, L. et al. (1988): Mluvnice sou časné angli čtiny (na pozadí
češtiny). Prague.
(1999): Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English.
HUDDLESTON, R. and G. K. PULLUM (2002): The Cambridge
Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge University