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To the student:

You don't have to read long novels in this course - no Middlemarch or War and Peace. There isn't much memorization either. The focus is on arguments, exercises, and tree drawing. You need to do this from the first week on. The course is not particularly difficult but once you get lost, go for help! Chapter 1 is the introduction; skip the `justification' if you want.


Justification and thanks:

This grammar is in the tradition of the Quirk family of grammars, such as the work of Huddleston, Burton-Roberts, Aarts & Wekker. Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik's work in turn is based on a long tradition of grammarians such as Jespersen, Kruisinga, Poutsma, and Zandvoort.

While following the traditional distinction between function (subject, object, etc.) and realization (NP, VP, etc), the present book focusses on the structure and makes the function derivative, as in more generativist work. Its focus on structure can be seen in the treatment of the VP as consisting of the verb and its complements. Abstract discussions such as what a constituent is are largely avoided (in fact, the term constituent is since it is a stumbling block), and the structure of the NP and AP is brought in line with that of the VP: NPs and APs have complements as well as modifiers.

A clear distinction is made between lexical and functional (here called grammatical) categories. Lexical categories project to phrases and these phrases have functions at sentence level (subject, predicate, object). Functional categories (the determiner, auxiliary, coordinator, and complementizer) do not project to phrases and have no function at sentence level (they function exclusively inside a phrase and connect clauses and phrases). Hence, determiner, auxiliary, coordinator and complementizer express realization as well as function.

On occasion, I do not give a definitive solution to a problem because there isn't any. This lack of explanation can be caused either by an analysis remaining controversial, as in the case of ditransitive verbs, or by the continual changes taking place in English (or any other language for that matter). Instead of giving one solution, I discuss some options. I have found that students become frustrated if, for instance, they can reasonably argue that a verb is prepositional in contexts where `the book says' it is an intransitive verb. Therefore, the emphasis in this book is on the argumentation, and not on presenting `the' solution. The chapter where I have been quite conservative in my analysis is chapter 6. The reason is that to provide the argumentation for a non-flat structure involves theta-theory and quantifier-float and this leads too far.

Unlike Quirk et al., this grammar starts with a chapter on intuitive linguistic knowledge and provides an explanation for it based on Universal Grammar. Also different is the discussion of prescriptive rules, at the end of each chapter. In my experience, students want to know what the prescriptive rule is. Strangely enough, they don't want the instructor to tell them that linguistically speaking, there is nothing wrong with splitting an infinitive or using like as a complementizer. Adding those topics is a compromise to them. I have not integrated them in the chapters since I want to keep descriptive and prescriptive rules separate. The topics, however, do not try to cover all traditional usage questions, such as the `correct' past participle form. They are added to give a flavor for the kinds of prescriptive rules around.

The chapters in this book cover `standard' material: categories, phrases, functions, and embedded sentences. There are a few sections that I have labelled optional, since, depending on the course, they may be too complex. The last chapter could either be skipped or expanded upon, depending on whether it is appropriate to introduce S'' or CP. It should be possible to cover all chapters in one semester. The students I have in mind are English, Humanities, Philosophy, and Education majors as well as others taking a 300-400 level grammar course in an English department. I am, however, assuming students using this book know basic `grammar', for instance, the past tense of go, and the comparative of good. Students who do not have that knowledge should consult a work such as O'Dwyer (2000). The subtitle is an adaptation from a line in Hamlet, and it is up to the reader to interpret it.

I would like to thank my students in earlier grammar courses whose frustration with some of the inconsistencies in other books has inspired the current work. I am sure this is not the first work so inspired. Many thanks also to Viktorija Todorovska for major editorial comments, to Johanna Wood for much helpful discussion that made me rethink fundamental questions and for suggesting the special topics, to Harry Bracken for great comments and encouragement, to Tom Stroik for supportive suggestions, to Barbara Fennell for detailed comments and insightful clarifications, and to Anke de Looper of John Benjamins for preliminary discussions on possible publication. Many thanks to Jeff Parker for patient assistance on also making this into an e-text, and to Susan Heck and Laura Parsons for comments/help on the e-text.

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