Liberating Grammar

Liberating Grammar - Clifford J. Vaida - 9780130928597 - Linguistics - English Grammar (86)
Allyn & Bacon
Clifford J. Vaida  
März 1996
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For junior/graduate-level courses in English Grammar and Advanced English Syntax.

Designed to make grammar fun and intellectually exciting, this text doesn't teach students about grammar but how to do grammar -i.e., how to understand the structure and function - the rationale - of the English language by becoming actively involved with their own analysis and description of the language. Building on what students already know intuitively about English, it is the first text to combine traditional and generative approaches in one practical synthesis - showing students how to notice patterns in their language, how to describe those patterns in clear and principled ways, how to decide which of their descriptions are best, and how to represent their decisions in the form of rules and diagrams.


  • shows that normal native speakers already intuitively know a lot about English, helps them become conscious of what they know, and tells them how to express this new consciousness in their own terms.
  • provides full and systematic coverage of all the major topics of English grammar:
    • the major parts of speech, together with their associated phrases: verbs; nouns; adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions.

    • morphology.

    • compound and complex sentences.

    • style, text, and paragraphs.

  • thoroughly synthesizes traditional and generative approaches to English grammar .
    • introduces phrase structure diagrams clearly in a step-by-step procedure.

    • uses traditional Reed-Kellogg diagrams for displaying functional relations.

  • bridges the gulf between descriptive and prescriptive grammar - arguing that we need to use both.
    • resolves well-known usage problems - subject-verb agreement, “sexism” in language, dangling modifiers, and others - by description of their grammar.

  • shows that doing grammar involves nothing more than using the general ideas of structure, classification, and function over and over again at each level of the language.
  • covers the major “parts of speech”and the kinds of phrases they give rise to.
  • explores the relations between parts of words - the way that morphology, syntax, and semantics all come together to make unique combinations of form, structure, and meaning.
  • considers the sentence as a whole.
    • looks at different kinds of sentences and the special resources English has for inserting one sentence (or clause) into another.

    • considers the sentence as the means for conveying the different kinds of messages.

  • features an interactive approach throughout:
    • each page contains an exercise, question, or problem that students must work through as an integral part of the lesson.

    • each section contains a more elaborate exercise -DO IT - that requires students to apply a new concept, notice and describe a new pattern of data, or formulate a new rule.

    • each chapter concludes with a set of more challenging exercises that require students to review and often revise the points and procedures discussed in the chapter.

    • complete answers are provided at end of book.

    • an appendix contains suggestions for “Perpetual Practice.”

  • features humorous examples throughout - including quotations from authors such as Homer, Malcolm X, Jane Austen, Henry James, and Toni Morrison.
  • provides chapter-end summaries and lists of technical terms and abbreviations.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Language, Grammar, and Usage.

2. Getting Started: Structure and Class.

3. Moving On: Class and Function.

4. Verbs and the Verb Phrase.

5. Nouns and the Noun Phrase.

6. Adjectives, Adverbs, Prepositions, and Their Phrases.

7. Morphology and the English Verb Group.

8. The Simple Sentence and Beyond: Subordination and Coordination of Clauses.

9. Towards the Text: Information, Theme, and Paragraphs.

Answers to End-of-Chapter Exercises.


Appendix I: List of Irregular Verb Forms.

Appendix II: Suggestions for Perpetual Practice.