(next lecture)
What is Grammar?

Grammar is the business of taking a language to pieces, to see how it works.”
(David Crystal)

Aims of the course:

·        Familiarity with the basic principles of the structure of English phrases, clauses and texts

·        Awareness of the relationship between grammatical form and meaning

·        Improved command of English

·        Sensitivity to different styles of English

·        Mastery of grammatical terminology


Descriptive and prescriptive grammar

Contrastive grammar

Knowing how vs. knowing about

Which English?

Levels of language description

singular/plural form of nouns: book – books
singular/plural form of verbs: she reads – they read
present/past tense verb forms: talk – talked, think – thought
adverbs from adjectives: interesting – interestingly
verbs from nouns: computer – computerize
nouns from adjectives: slow – slowness
adjectives from nouns: sand -- sandy, sun - sunny

(1) the combination of words into phrases and sentences

a black car
a black car with a powerful engine Peter hit Steven.
Steven hit Peter.
Did Steven hit Peter? We painted the house red.
We painted the red house.
The house was painted red.

    (2) the choice of linguistic forms

I have been watching that series. I have watched that series.
He read the poem very well.  His reading of the poem was very good.

 woman (definition): human, adult, female
 woman (synonyms): lady, female, girl, mother, wife …

They were bothering me.
You are bothering me.
Do you know Fred?
Do you know what time it is?

Grammar and meaning
George plays the guitar. - He knows how to play the guitar. He may not be playing at the moment.
George is playing the guitar. - George is playing at the moment.

Most children are naturally curious and adventurous. - They are curious and adventurous by nature.
Naturally, most children are curious and adventurous. - Of course they are curious and adventurous.

Grammar and style


Earth has not anything to show more fair:          the order of to show and more fair is unusual
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by       dull is a subject predicative, but occurs in subject position
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear            the use of doth is archaic. The main verb has been postponed
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,            run-on line: the final adjectives modify the nouns in the next line
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the field, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep                Never is emphasized at the beginning of the sentence
In his first splendour, valley, rock or hill;            The use of his indicates personification of the sun
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:            glideth is archaic. His personifies the river.
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

    (William Wordsworth)

Course tools – how are we going to study the grammar?


The grammar homepage: http://folk.uio.no/hhasselg/grammar/

Classfronter: http://blyant.uio.no

Recommended supplementary literature
Simpler than EGTU:
David Crystal: Rediscover Grammar. London: Longman. (An easy reference grammar with cartoons and very clear lay-out. The terminology is largely compatible with EGTU.)
Per Lysvåg, Stig Johansson: Going for Grammar. Oslo: Aschehoug 1995. (In Norwegian: textbook for the ‘videregående skole’)

Same level as /more advanced than EGTU:
Sidney Greenbaum, Randolph Quirk: A Student’s Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman
Stig Johansson, Per Lysvåg: Understanding English Grammar. Vols. I & II. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget
Geoffrey Leech, Jan Svartvik: A Communicative Grammar of English. London: Longman.
Jan Svartvik, Olof Sager: Engelsk Universitetsgrammatik.
(In Swedish)

Hilde Hasselgård
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