Studying Syntax: A review of the basics

A number of my students have the desire to study syntax in order to increase their confidence and accuracy when they write. I continue to believe that reading regularly indirectly helps by exposing students to standard patterns and word order. I’ve also seen how exercises like sentence unscrambles and error correction can give students practice applying their knowledge without me having to give detailed explanations.

Even so, there are times when focused practice is not only beneficial, but it can also be coupled with direct attention to the rules of sentence structure. Asking students to identify the parts of a sentence (e.g., subject, verb, object) raises their awareness of how ideas get expressed accurately and naturally in English.

If you believe your upper level students would benefit from some review of sentence structure, then consider using a set of 25 classroom slides I created. The vocabulary is appropriate for high intermediate and advanced students who need the challenge of identifying subjects, subject complements, verbs, objects, complete sentences, sentence word order, direct objects, adverbials, and clauses.

Understanding Syntax and Sentence Structure (PDF)

Related posts:
Snacking on Syntax (2021) – Fixing common mistakes like fragments and comma splices
Teaching Syntax: Helpful or Hellish? (2017) – Sentence types (SV, SVO, SVC, etc.)
Should Syntax Be So Taxing (2012) – Suggested noticing tasks

Image by Hebi B. from Pixabay 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. yasser mohamed says:

    I have an urgent question..The report is about …..a- finish.   b- finishing. C_ Being finished  d- to finish…Thanks for your help

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

  2. Hi. Think about the sentence structure. Subject – the report. Linking verb – is. Next comes a subject complement. Often subject complements are adjectives. Which answer choice is an adjective? We’re talking about someone finished the report, so a passive adjective is possible: finished. The truth is that none of those answers is correct. I only see two possibilities: The report is (just) about finished. – OR – The report is about to be finished.

    You can post language questions in the public comments on YouTube and Instagram. I have YT lessons on sentence structure and subject complements. Please see my grammar playlist.

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