Elements of the English Sentence is intended for advanced students of
English grammar studying at the undergraduate or post-graduate level. The text is also extremely useful as a reference guide for EFL/ESL teachers of
English Grammar and composition.
The text views the English sentence as consisting of various formal and functional categories, operating at different syntactic ranks related to each other in a hierarchical fashion. The word represents the lowest syntactic rank. It contains various formal categories such as nouns, verbs, and adjectives. These are discussed with reference to their formal, semantic, and functional features. The latter refers to the functional categories they express within the syntactic rank just above the word, the group.
Groups (made up of words) are discussed in terms of their types (e.g., noun, adjective, embedded, non-embedded groups), their internal functional categories (pre-modifier, head, post-modifier), and the functional categories they express within the syntactic rank just above the group, the clause. The group's functional categories are discussed in terms of what they mean, their position in relation to each other within the group, and the formal categories used to realize them.These are typically words, but they can be embedded groups or bound clauses.
Clauses (made up of groups) are discussed in terms of their types (e.g., free, bound, finite, non-finite, embedded, non-embedded, nominal, adjectival), their syntactic relations to each other (coordination, subordination), and their internal functional categories (e.g., subject, object, compliment). These are discussed in terms of what they mean, where they occur within the clause, how they are combined to make different clause patterns, and what formal categories are used to express them. These are typically groups but they are often embedded bound clauses.
The sentence (made up of clauses as its formal elements) is the highest syntactic rank. Sentences are different types according to their meaning (e.g., declarative, interrogative, imperative) or their form with reference to the clause complexes they contain (e.g., complex, compound).
The text ends with a comprehensive list of all the formal categories at the different syntactic ranks, together with the functional categories expressed by each. Each chapter ends with many exercises meant to provide intensive practical work for the book user. The text also provides an answer key to the exercises in order to help those studying independently.