Why it is being said and what speakers wish to convey depends entirely on two things: the context in which it is said, and what the speaker wants people to understand. For example, someone says, “it’s warm in here” performs different language function, it could be requesting, suggesting, etc.

The speakers have to be able to string utterances together because the meaning of language depends on where it occurs within a larger stretch of discourse.

The Elements of Language

The speaker has to put together a number of elements in order to get the meaning across:

  1. 1.      Grammar
  • The elements in grammar: subject, verb, complement, object, clause. They have to go in the right order for the sentence work. There are also some changes we are allowed to make the sentence element and it will alter the meaning.
  • Two types of sentence using object: transitive (take object), intransitive (no object)
  • Clause can be joined and amalgamated.
  1. 2.      Vocabulary
  • What a word means is also defined by its relationship to other words
  • Antonym (opposite), synonym (the same thing), Morphology (how the shape of the word can be altered)
  1. 3.      Pronunciation
  • The way the sentence is spoken will also determine exactly what we it means, like intonation (the music of speech), stress, phonemes (a collection of sounds)
  • There are two mains categories of sounds: vowel and consonant sounds (can be either voiced or voiceless) in which vocal cords work to create those sounds.

Forms and Meaning

  1. 1.      One form, many meanings
  • The present continuous verb form can refer to both the present (I’m not listening’) and the future (‘I’m seeing him tomorrow’). Words can also mean more than one thing, for example, book. So, with so many available meanings for words and grammatical forms, it is the context the word occurs in which determines which of these meanings is being referred to.
  1. 2.      One meaning, many forms
  • A meaning or a concept can be expressed in many ways. For example, expressing futurity. “I’ll see you tomorrow” or “I’m going to see you tomorrow”. We can also describe an intelligent person by using a number of different words, ‘intelligent’, ‘brainy’, ‘clever’, ‘smart’, etc, but each of these words has a different connotation.

Parts of speech

  1. 1.      The noun phrase

It consists of jus a noun (‘John’) or a pronoun (‘he’, ‘they’). Preceded by determiner, adjectives, and post-modified in some way.

  1. 2.      Noun
  2. a.      Countable. We can count and make it plural, e.g friends, coins; uncountable, we can’t count and can’t make it plural, e.g sugar, and furniture. It can be used with singular verbs and quantifier, such as ‘much’, ‘a lot of’)
    1. b.      Plural noun, singular verbs e.g the news is depressing
    2. c.       Collective nouns. It describes groups or organization e.g ‘family’, ‘team’, ‘the poor’
    3. d.      Compound noun. It is constructed from more than one word e.g ‘walking stick’, ‘boyfriend’
    4. 3.      Pronouns
      1. a.      Personal pronoun. It consists of object pronouns e.g, me, you, him; reflexive pronouns e.g myself, yourself); possessive pronouns e.g mine, yours, his
      2. b.      Relative pronouns. They are necessary if the noun in the relative clause is the subject of that clause
      3. 4.      Articles and Determiners

Determiners indicate the type of reference of – the noun phrase, telling us whether it is general, or specific, or whether it is known about or is new (‘the’, ‘a’, and ‘an’)

  1. a.      Definite article (‘the’). It is to refer to something particular that we know already; the one and only thing
  2. b.      Indefinite article (‘a/an). It is used to refer to a particular person or thing when the listener/reader doesn’t know which one is being described, e.g. a man is reading a book. It is also used to refer to a member of the whole group, e.g. A good nurse will always…..
  3. 5.      Adjectives

Adjectives describe and modify the nouns they come before or after

  1. Comparative and superlative forms e.g. good, better, best
  2. Adjective sequence (size, color, origin, material, purpose, noun)
  3. Adjective and preposition e.g. interested in, keen on
  4. Adjectives as nouns e.g. the blind, the poor
  5. Adjective or adverb? ‘I hate a late lunch’. Here ‘late’ is an adjective. ‘He arrived late’. Here ‘late’ is adverb.
  6. 6.      The Verb Phrase. It consists of two main parameters, tense and aspect. A verb tense (what time? Past, present, and future). The aspect (continuous, simple, perfect, etc)
  7. 7.      Auxiliary Verbs. Auxiliary verbs (be, do, and have), the modal auxiliary verbs (shall, should, will, would, etc)
  8. 8.      Main Verbs. It stands alone e.g. she shouted, they arrived
  9. 9.      Phrasal (multi-word) Verbs. It is formed by adding a particle to a verb to create new meanings. There are four basics types of phrasal verbs.

Type 1: intransitives, the verb does not take a direct object. Type 2: transitive, verbs which take an object. Type 3: transitive and separable e.g. he gave the present back, the gave back the present. Type 4 (transitive, 2+ particles, inseparable) e.g. run out of, cut down on

  1. 10.  Verbs Forms
    1. Present (‘your brother is upstairs’), past (‘she cried’), simple (‘they walked’), continuous, (‘to indicate time and tense’), Continuous (‘she is writing a letter)
    2. Participles (present participles, past participles)
    3. Regular and Irregular verbs
    4. Perfect verbs
    5. Active and passive
    6. Adverbs (adverbs of time, adverbs of manner, adverbs of place, adverbs of frequency; adverb position; adverbs of degree, comparatives and superlatives adverbs)
    7. Joining Words

Prepositions: a time relationship between two events or a spatial relationship between two things or people e.g. particular preposition (anxious about, dream about); prepositions and adverbs (she climbed down the ladder)

  1. Conjunctions: it joins two clauses (and, so, because, but)

Hypothetical Meaning

We talk about something that is not real. Conditional Sentences are formed the conjunction ‘if’ is used to preface a condition, e.g. ‘if it rains (condition), you’ll get wet (result)’

  1. Talking about present: e.g. if you pay online, you get a discount (real); ‘if I had a dog, I’d take it for walks (hypothetical)
  2.  Talking about future: e.g. if you work hard, you’ll pass the exam (real); ‘if I won the lottery, I’d travel around the world.
  3. Talking about past e.g. if it was very warm, we ate outside (real); if I’d known the rail strike, I would have come by car.

Words Together

Three specific instances of words that group together

  1. Collocation: If any two words occur together more often than just by chance. Collocation for the word ‘heavy’, for example, heavy rain, heavy smoking, heavy burden
  2. Lexical Chunks: strings of words which behave almost as one unit. For example, ‘out of the blue’. They become more problematic depending on how idiomatic they are. Idiom is a lexical phrase where the meaning of the whole phrase may not be comprehensible even if we know the meaning of each individual word. For example; ‘full of beans’ means ‘energetic’

Language Functions

Language Function is a purpose you wish to achieve when you say or write something. By performing the function, you are performing an act of communication

Text and Discourse  

  1. Cohesion: the devices we use to stick text together – the way we connect sentences together. Lexical cohesion uses words and groups of words throughout a text to bind a topic together. Grammatical cohesion uses pronouns, articles, tense agreement, etc.  Here is also known, anaphoric reference,
  2. Coherence the sentence has some internal logic
  3. Conversational Discourse to be a successful conversationalist, Speakers of English need to recognize ‘discourse markers’, phrases such as ‘you may be right, but…’, ‘hold on, I’d just like to say that’

Language Variables

  1. Speaking and Writing. With speakers, the proportion of function words is often much higher. Students of English need to be able to recognize the difference between more speaking-like and writing-like language, and to use these differences creatively.
  2. Register refers to both the topic we are speaking about and the tone (forma/informal) that we wish to adopt.

Language Varieties

Many different varieties in English; British, American, Indian, Pakistani, Singapore, etc

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