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A Critical Account of English Syntax

Grammar, Meaning, Text

Keith Brown, Jim Miller

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A descriptive and comprehensive account of English syntax and grammar

Tackling the role of syntactic constructions in text, this companion brings out the connections between syntactic structures and semantics/pragmatics and the function of different clausal structures in written and spoken texts. It also draws attention to variation in standard written English, to the grammatical structures and discourse devices in spoken English, and to ongoing changes in English grammar. It focuses on the concepts of descriptive grammar as extended and refined over the last fifty years.

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Adjectives and Adjective Phrases

Adverbs and Adverb Phrases

Adverbial Clauses

Clause and Text

Clause Structure


Complement Clauses


Non-Finite Clauses

Nouns and Noun Phrases

Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases

Relative Clauses

Sentences and Clauses

Verbs and Verb Phrases

Word Classes

About the Author

Affiliated lecturer, Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, University of Cambridge

Jim Miller is Emeritus Professor at the University of Edinburgh, where he had a personal chair in Linguistics and Spoken Language. He works on the syntax and discourse organisation of spoken and written language, grammar and semantics, standard and non-standard languages, and literacy.


Brown and Miller are observers par excellence of what Henry Sweet called the "real life of language". Their fascination with constructions that typify spoken and non-standard Englishes set this new book on English syntax apart. It will become a landmark in the writing of grammars for the twenty-first century.

Prof. Karen Corrigan, Newcastle University

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