The Importance Of Syntax

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Syntax is the study of sentence structure and the grammatical arrangement of words. In all languages, sentences are structured in certain specific ways. So when we say that sentences have structure, it is implying that they are not just strings of word but have an internal structure. Speakers are capable of producing and understanding an infinite number of phrases and sentences of that language even if we have never heard or produced before (Akmajian, et al., 2010). This essay will discuss evidences in favour of the hypothesis that sentences have structure.

One evidence of sentences having structure is the presence of constituents. Constituents are the natural groupings or parts of a sentence and they support the claim as they are divisible into parts (Akmajian, et al., 2010). Our grammatical knowledge is a system; we can judge new sentences without ever hearing them before. So the making of a constituent reflects that speakers are trying to characterise their knowledge of syntactic structure. What happens then is that constituents are assigned to different categories that make up the overarching category of Sentence (S). It then breaks down into a Noun Phrase (NP) followed by a Verb Phrase (VP), and so on. Linguists can illustrate this by using a tree diagram that has been labelled with syntactic category information. According to Fromkin (2013), a tree diagram is “a formal device that reflects the speaker’s intuitions about the natural groupings of words in a sentence.”

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