In this paper, the author will analyse the effectiveness of a textbook manual in relation to a specific area of syntax. The chosen word class for the study is adverbs. The analysis of efficiency will be carried out by making a comparison between two books used in teaching English in secondary school. The two paperbacks to be used are Understanding Syntax (3rd edition) and Basic English Syntax with Exercises. The books provide detailed accounts of how adverbs modify adjectives, verbs, nouns, clauses, and determiners.
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First, the author will provide a detailed analysis of the chosen area of syntax. In this section, the author will define adverbs and provide different uses and applications of the syntax in sentences. The second section of the paper will look into how each of the two reference books addresses the issue of adverbs. Here, the writer will provide examples from the textbooks to substantiate the findings. The third section of the paper will focus on how the reference books successfully analyse the chosen area of syntax. In this part, the author will evaluate such aspects as how the techniques applied in the books facilitate or hinder the teaching of adverbs. Some of the questions to be addressed touch on whether or not the approach helps learners to practice enough, gain interest in learning the syntax, and understand all aspects related to the adverbs. The final section will be a summary of what the paper focused on and the findings from the comparison of the two reference books.
A Discussion of the Chosen Area of Syntax
The selected area of syntax in this paper is adverbs. The reason for selecting the word class is because it is used at length by the authors of the chosen reference books. Adverbs are phrases that modify adjectives, nouns, and clauses (AlHamdany, 2012). In addition, the words modify determiners, verbs, and other adverbs. The primary reason for this change is to express such factors as place, frequency, manner, and degree. As such, adverbs help to answer questions like what, when, how, where, and the extent to which something happened or was done. Traditionally, adverbs were considered parts of speech (Eppler & Ozon, 2013). However, advancements in linguistics have resulted in the use of the syntax to categorise different forms of syntactic behaviour.
According to Tallerman (2011), based on where they are placed, adverbs can bring out different meanings in a sentence. For example, in the sentences ‘He died quickly’ and ‘quickly, he died’, the word ‘quickly’ brings out two varying meanings. In the first sentence, the word acts as a verb-modifying adverb. As a result, it expresses a natural way. In the second sentence, the phrase acts as a sentential adverb explaining course. In addition, some adverbs cannot modify all words. According to Givon (2015), an adverb, such as ‘very’, can modify an adjective, but not a verb. In a sentence, for example, it can only be said ‘John is very slow’ and not ‘John very walked home’. On their part, such adverbs as ‘here’ and ‘there’ can be used to modify verbs but not adjectives (Miller, 2001). A sentence, for example, can only be framed as ‘the shirt looks very good there’ and not ‘it is a there good shirt’.
Apart from modifying, adverbs can at times be used as predicative expressions. To this end, they are used to show location. For example, ‘Mary, your car is there’. The word ‘there’ acts as the predicative expression. According to Freidin (2012), predicative phrases express an attribute assigned to a clause’s subject or object. However, they do not act as phrase adjuncts or arguments. In spite of adverbs being used as predictive expressions, not all of them can apply to such situations. The main adverbs, which cannot be categorised as predicative, are those ending in –ly (Tallerman, 2011). In a sentence, for example, one cannot say that ‘the suggestions are insightfully’. Using the –ly adverb makes the sentence seem incomplete and incorrect. In addition, some adverbs can be used as superlatives when the meaning permits. The syntax turns into superlatives or comparatives when users add ‘most’ or ‘more’ before it (Cullen, 2008). Other adverbs, such as ‘well’, can be used in inflected forms.
According to Wyse, Jones, Bradford, and Wolpert (2013), adverbs have different principles and usage based on language. In English, for example, they are formed from adjectives that end in –ly. In German, they form a cluster of noninflectable phrases. For an English adverb to be used in German, it has to be prearranged under adjectives with adverbial use in a sentence. In such a language as Dutch, the syntax has the basic form of its subsequent adjectives. In addition, adverbs are not inflected. However, they can be compared based on sentence structure and meaning that is to be relayed.
Adverbs in Understanding Syntax
The first reference book to be analysed is Understanding Syntax, 3rd edition. A study of the text reveals that the manuscript focuses on adverbs from the perspective of how they modify verbs (Tallerman, 2011). The text does not discuss how the syntax links sentences to the wider context. In addition, the book highlights how irregular adverbs are applied in sentences to bring out the correct meaning.
The book does not analyse adverbs from the perspective of how they modify clauses, nouns, or determiners. The reason is that all the examples provided focus on verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. For example, Tallerman (2011) observes that central adverbs are formed from the related adjectives with the help of the –ly affix. The book teaches how the syntax modifies verbs by giving examples of the words ‘sudden’ and ‘suddenly’. For example, ‘Kim stopped suddenly’. In addition, the book gives a similar example in French. Tallerman (2011) notes that in French, –ment changes sage ‘wise’ into sagement ‘wisely’.
In relation to irregular adverbs, the book teaches that the syntax carries the same form as the adjective. For instance, a sentence can only be framed as ‘she works fast’ or ‘hard’ and not ‘she works fastly’ or ‘hardly’. The word ‘hardly’ can only be formed by a different adverb, creating a different meaning (Tallerman, 2011). The new sentence with an opposite meaning will be ‘she hardly works’. The book also teaches about adverbs from the perspective of comparative suffixes –er and –est. The examples provided are ‘sooner’ and ‘soonest’.
The Degree of Success to which the First Book Analyses Adverb
Based on the evaluation, the book does not successfully analyse the chosen area of syntax. However, the manuscript provides information that is useful to all students in secondary schools. The reason why the book is considered unsuccessful is that Tallerman (2011) focuses more on adverbs from the perspective of how they modify verbs. The author provides little information on how the word class modifies other words, such as adjectives, nouns, and other adverbs. In addition, Tallerman (2011) provides few examples on how adverbs are used. The primary examples provided are two. The sentences are ‘Kim stopped suddenly’ and ‘she works fast’ or ‘hard’.
Based on the discussion of the syntax, students can understand the use of adverbs and where they are placed in a sentence. In addition, learners can note important information and gain interest in the syntax. However, only quick learners will develop the interest and understand the application of adverbs with ease. Due to the few examples provided in the book, slow learners may find it difficult to comprehend how the syntax is used. In addition, they may find the explanations difficult to follow. As such, they may lack interest in the word class (Rauh, 2010). The book should have provided more examples of sentences with adverbs placed at different positions in a sentence. In addition, the author should have used more adverbs, such as those of time, place, and frequency.
Adverbs in Basic English Syntax with Exercises
The second reference book is Basic English Syntax with Exercises by Newson et al. (2006). A review of the book shows that it teaches adverbs from the perspective of how they modify verb phrases and link sentences to the wider context. In addition, the book discusses how learners can distinguish verbal phrases from sentential adverbs. The two sentences below are used to understand the separation:
- 168a. He certainly will find out.
- 168b. He will quickly find out.
In the first sentence, the adverb modifies the whole sentence (Newson et al., 2006). The meaning relayed is that he will definitely find out. On its part, 168b modifies the verb in the sentence. The modifier helps to show the manner in which he will find out, which is ‘quickly’. The book also analyses how the positioning of adverbs affects the meaning of a sentence. In the first sentence, the sentential adverb comes before the modal auxiliary. In the second, the verb phrase adverse follows the auxiliary. According to Newson et al. (2006), placing an adverb far from the verb phrase leads to a sentence that is grammatically incorrect. Examples of the sentences include:
He quickly will find out
The doctor thoroughly may examine the patient
However, the book shows that the sentences can be made grammatically correct by placing emphasis on the finite constituent. In addition, the text teaches how structures that can be adjoined by adverbs. Wyse et al. (2013) are of the view that under certain circumstances, adverbs can adjoin to any part of a verbal phrase.
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The Degree of Success to which the Second Text Analyses the Selected Syntax
One can conclude that Newson et al. (2006) successfully assesses the chosen area of syntax. The reason is that the text provides detailed and in-depth information on how adverbs act as verb phrase modifiers. In addition, the authors provide numerous examples to help understand how the syntax is used in sentences. In every adverb use, the book provides at least three examples with the verbs positioned differently in each sentence. The approach makes understanding of the concept easier for secondary school students. In addition, Newson et al. (2006) use diagrams to explain how adjuncts and objects in the position of the verb complement each other.
Based on the discussion of the syntax and examples provided, learners can understand how adverbs are positioned and used in a sentence. For example, Newson et al. (2006) note that adverbs should not be placed far from the verb phrases. The reason is to avoid grammatically incorrect sentences. In addition, learners can note what is intended, such as the forms of structure that adverbs can adjoin to. Due to the many examples provided and easy explanation, most learners are expected to gain interest in the syntax and practice enough. All the teaching methods used in the book are suitable for scholars at the secondary school level. Consequently, the techniques facilitate the teaching of the selected area of syntax. However, the book should have focused on the modification of other words, such as adjectives and nouns.
In this paper, the author analysed the different uses of adverbs by comparing two books. The paper provided a detailed discussion of the syntax selected, which is adverb. The author defined and discussed various uses of an adverb. The adverb modifies a number of words, such as verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, and nouns. Secondly, the author of this paper looked at how the two books analyse the adverb syntax. The first text focused on adverbs from the perspective of how they modify verbs. On its part, the second book focused on how the chosen syntax acts as a modifier and links sentences to the wider context. Thirdly, the paper analysed the degree of success to which the two books discuss the chosen syntax. It was concluded that the first text unsuccessfully tries to teach adverbs. Some of the reasons for this lack of success are that the book does not provide sufficient examples and explanations to show how different adverbs are used and located in sentences. On its part, the second text was found to effectively discuss the chosen syntax. It provides easy and detailed explanations and uses numerous examples that are structured in a different manner.
AlHamdany, H. (2012). The usefulness of systemic functional grammar and its impact on students’ communicative skills in ESL context. European Scientific Journal, 8(11), 176-194.
Cullen, R. (2008). Teaching grammar as a liberating force. ELT Journal, 62(3), 221-230.
Eppler, E., & Ozon, G. (2013). English words and sentences: An introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Freidin, R. (2012). Syntax: Basic concepts and applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Givon, T. (2015). The diachrony of grammar. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Miller, J. (2001). An introduction to English syntax (2nd ed.). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Newson, M., Hordos, M., Pap, D., Szecsenyi, K., Toth, G., & Vincze, V. (2006). Basic English syntax with exercises. Budapest: Bölcsész Konzorcium.
Rauh, G. (2010). Syntactic categories: Their identification and description in linguistic theories. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Tallerman, M. (2011). Understanding syntax (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge.
Wyse, D., Jones, R., Bradford, H., & Wolpert, M. (2013). Teaching English, language and literacy (3rd ed.). London: Routledge.