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Recapitulation and Development

  • N. F. Blake
Chapter

Abstract

It was pointed out in the Introduction that traditional grammar is a word-based grammar and in principle it works from words to larger units of language. It will have become apparent in the intervening chapters that it is difficult to limit one’s attention in analysing English to words alone in so far as words in English have few inflexional endings. For this reason what grammatical category a word belongs to may only become clear through a consideration of the function a word has in the sentence as a whole; the form of the word will not be sufficient in itself to reveal its class. The same word can function as noun, verb or adjective, and it is only when it is used in a sentence that one can decide to what category it belongs in that instance. There is no match in English between the ending or form of words and grammatical categories. Hence any study of grammar must also introduce elements of sentence function. However, even function is not without its problems, for those who are not used to analysing sentences in English will be immediately struck by the circular nature of some of the definitions: a subject will be defined in relation to the verb, and a verb in relation to the subject.

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Copyright information

© N. F. Blake 1988

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  • N. F. Blake

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