The Classroom ‘Blog

At the request of one of my students, I ‘m going to start including a few of the interesting topics and texts we examine in class in a new section of the ‘blog. I shall try to post at least one article a week.

Grammar and Syntax

Welcome to my Grammar and Syntax Blog. I’ll be adding posts to it in the order that they occur to me, rather than in a strictly logical order, but on this page I’ll keep everything in its proper logical context. The latest posts can be found in the ‘Recent Posts’ menu on the left.

The intended audience for this ‘blog is English leaners – at a high-intermediate to advanced level – and English speakers who love grammar.

I’m an English Language teacher, currently in Wellington, New Zealand. I teach lot of advanced English, IELTS, CAE and similar, as well as intermediate and business English. I’m also a recenty graduated Honours student of Victoria University, where I studied Linguistics, Latin and English. Within Linguistics, the area of study in which I learnt the most was Syntax.

What I hope to do with this ‘blog is to combine ideas from traditional grammar with some of the things I learnt in Syntax and Morphology (‘Morpho-syntax’, as it’s known) . Syntax is a science – it describes how the brain processes language – but it is very closely related to grammar.

The purpose of this ‘blog is not to make grammar complicated, but to make it simple – to take ideas from Linguistics to show why things happen. Parts of Morpho-syntax are very complicated and confusing, but much of it is not, and can add a lot of clarity to understanding language (English, in this case). Traditional grammar is full of rules, but Lingustics provides reasons and explanations for these rules, and shows why we break the rules when we do.


Latest posts can be seen in reverse chronological order in the sidebar.

Syntax and Linguistics

X-bar theory – the basic structure of Syntax

This is a very technical article on the basics of X-bar theory, which describes the building blocks of Human Syntax. This is technical, but helps to understand some of the underlying mental processes referred to in other posts.

The Verb Phrase – A lengthy introduction – NEW

I hope you find this an interesting post! It describes the heart of most sentences – the Verb Phrase – and explains why basic English sentence order is the way it is. It’s a detailed post, which contains a certain amount of linguistics, but should be interesting for non-linguists who have a good knowledge of English grammar. (However, it’s a little too difficult for most language learners, and not necessary for learning English.)

The Syntax of Clauses

How Subordinate Clauses and Questions use the CP – the Complementiser Phrase – in Syntax. Quite linguistically-based, but very advanced language learners may find this interesting.

‘Sticky magnetic’ Negativisers

The fascinating world of the Negativiser (an example of which is ‘not’), which is ‘sticky’: it combines with other elements and sometimes causes movement of other elements in the Syntax.

Advanced Grammar (with Some Linguistics)

Irrealis and Conditionals

Irrealis or ‘unreality’, and how it is used in Conditionals. This post contains examples from Shakespeare compared with contemporary usages.

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