Topic: Analysing grammatical structure

Englicious has a strong focus on the grammar of English and in this topic we look at how writers' grammatical choices influence how readers can interpret texts.

Clause types and discourse functions

Analysing declarative, imperative, interrogative and exclamative clauses

In this activity we will look at text examples drawn from our corpus and think about the clause types used within the extracts (for example, declarative, imperative, interrogative or exclamative clauses).

Click on the interactive whiteboard icon (top right) and work through the following slides with students. Read each extract and analyse it by answering the accompanying questions. After each extract, there are some suggestions and pointers.

Analysing structure in literary texts

Exploring structure through patterns and attention

Goals

  • Understand a method for analysing structure in literary texts.
  • Analyse the use of structure in a real text.

Lesson plan

  • This lesson is focused on the GCSE English Language 'structure' Assessment Objective.
  • It begins by considering what is meant by 'structure', and then introduces an analytical method for exploring the structure of literary texts.
  • This approach is then applied to a short extract. 
  • Some further texts are provided at the end, for us

Attitudes to new modes: Activity

From a BBC News article about the expression LOL entering the dictionary:

"There is a worrying trend of adults mimicking teen-speak," says Marie Clair of the Plain English Campaign, in the Daily Mail.

"They [adults] are using slang words and ignoring grammar. Their language is deteriorating."

Foregrounding

Noticing and exploring linguistic patterns in literary texts

Foregrounding is a widely-used term in text analysis, literary linguistics and stylistics, referring to patterns of language that stand out in a text. The term itself is derived from art and film criticism, and is best understood by a visual analogy.

Here is a picture of San Francisco:

In this image, the houses are foregrounded against the background of the city. They are foregrounded because they:

Form and function

A useful distinction in grammar is that of form and function. Grammatical form is concerned with the description of linguistic units in terms of what they are, and grammatical function is concerned with the description of what these linguistic units do. Note that we use capital letters at the beginning of function labels.

Form and function: Activity 1

Analysing the way that form and function are related

In the exercise you'll be asked to identify the function and the form of the highlighted words.

Identify the Function

Identify the function of the highlighted words in the following sentences.

Identify the semantic role

Exercise

You will be given some sentences where two or three noun phrases are marked off with square brackets. For each sentence:

  • Identify the semantic roles of the noun phrases (agent, patient or recipient).
  • Write a different sentence to describe the same situation, where the same roles are expressed in different ways.

Example:

  • [The people we were staying with] cooked [us] [a traditional Normandy dinner]. [S1A-009 #125, adapted]

Roles:

KS1 noun phrase generator

Use the interactive whiteboard to generate weird and wonderful noun phrases. 

Nonfinite clauses in literature

In this activity, students look at how nonfinite clauses might be used in their own writing and that of others to vary the structure of a text. On one level, this is about creating something that people like to read: something that is interesting, varied and engaging and designed to hook the reader or suit the style you are hoping to adopt. On another level, it’s about students showing teachers and examiners that they know about different forms and can use them in their writing.

Restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses

In this lesson, we look at the difference between two kinds of relative clause. A relative clause is a special kind of subordinate clause, and like other subordinate clauses it is introduced by a subordinating conjunction. More specifically, the introduction of a relative clause can be carried out by a relative pronoun.

The two types of relative clauses we will be looking at are:

Restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses: Activity 1

In what situation would somebody use the clause the car which is yellow? For example: the car which is yellow is mine, the car which is blue is yours and the car which is red is John’s. If I say the car which is yellow, am I giving you more information about a particular car we were already talking about by telling you its colour – or am I helping you to identify the car by telling you that it is the yellow one rather than the red one or the blue one?

Restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses: Activity 2

Sort these examples of relative clauses from the ICE-GB corpus according to whether you think they are restrictive (identifying) or non-restrictive (adding). Were there any cases where you had difficulty deciding which reading to choose? What clues did you use to help you decide?

Restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses: Activity 3

Non-restrictive relative clauses are often – although not always – surrounded by commas, which separate the additional information that the relative clause contains. In the following examples, see if you can put the commas in the right place to separate out the restrictive relative.

Words

This lesson looks at words and word-formation and is designed for KS1 students.

Goals

  • To explore the definition of the notion 'word'. 
  • To explore how words are formed and understand some word-formation processes.
  • To explore how words create meaning.

Lesson Plan

Start the lesson by asking your students to discuss what a ‘word’ is. It's a surprisingly tricky thing to define! 

Next, display the following words on the board:

Y2 GPaS Test: Coordinating or subordinating conjunction?

In each of the following sentences a conjunction is highlighted. Is it a coordinating conjunction or a subordinating conjunction?

Y2 GPaS Test: Identify the adjectives

Identify the adjectives in each of the following examples. Click on the word (or words) to select or deselect them.

Y2 GPaS Test: Identify the adverbs

Find the adverbs in a range of examples

Identify the adverbs in each of the following examples (there may be more than one). Click on a word to choose it.

Y2 GPaS Test: Identify the noun phrase

Find the noun phrase in a range of examples

Identify the noun phrase, consisting of several words, in each of the following clauses.

Click on the words that comprise the noun phrase to select or deselect them.

Y2 GPaS Test: Identify the nouns

Identify the nouns in each of the following examples. Click on the word (or words) to select or deselect them.

Y2 GPaS Test: Identify the verbs

Find the main verbs in a range of examples

Identify the main verb in each of the following examples. Click on the word (or words) to select or deselect them.

Y2 GPaS Test: Present or past tense?

In each of the following examples, indicate whether the highlighted verb is in present or past tense:

A framework for language analysis

This page includes a handout on which you will find a framework for language analysis, developed over time through our Teaching English Grammar in Context course.

Starting to analyse a text can be a rather intimidating task. Where to start? What to include/not include? And how to do this systematically, rather than simply pulling out grammatical features at random and trying to write some kind of cohesive analysis?

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