Syntax is the study of phrase and sentence structure. Sentences are not simply linear strings of words but are phrases, which are linked together in hierarchical structures. Even though sentences are constructed in specific ways according to each language (language-specific constraints), there are syntactic rules which apply universally to all natural languages.
In syntax we use syntactic trees to demonstrate the rules of a grammar and how these rules combine together to create grammatical phrases and sentences. These diagrams provide information, not only on the internal structure of phrases, but on the grammatical and semantic relationships between words. Different professors may focus on various aspects of tree structures depending on the amount of class time devoted to the subject and the depth of analysis.
Most introduction classes do not discuss X bar theory. Accordingly, the syntax trees are written both in simple structures on the left and X bar structures on the right.
Terms with which you will want to become familiar include:
- Phrase Structure Rules
- Verbal Phrases
- Deep structure
- Transformational Rules
Check out our tutorials that will walk you through various topics in syntax.
Below you will find a list of exercises as well as lots of practice in tree drawing.