© 2017 Steve Campsall
|a grammar hierarchy|
So, with morphology, syntax, phrases and clauses done, dusted and out of the way, you're all but finished! Well, not quite. In fact, not at all. It was a joke... But you are on your way, well on your way. By now you should be getting the g-e-n-e-r-a-l idea of these grammatical terms and units. Maybe a little revision would be worthwhile before moving on? Can you, at this early stage, now say what grammar is? What non-standard grammar is? What an 'ungrammatical' sentence is? What is syntax? Morphology? A phrase? A clause? A Main clause? An independent clause? A subordinate clause... a relative clause? You can? Well...
The 'Hierarchy' of Grammar
Grammatical units exist in a kind of hierarchy, with the smallest unit grammar deals with being given the name of a morpheme. A morpheme is either a whole word (but which has to be a root word), or, more often, is a meaningful part of a word.
Morphemes combine to create words, and words combine to create phrases, which themselves combine to make... clauses. Clauses - but never phrases - can exist singly to be called a sentence or can be combined with other clauses to make a different kinds and longer sentences.
As you have just read, a morpheme can be either a root word or a meaningful part of a word (i.e. an affix such as a prefix or suffix). An individual morpheme will always be, if not the whole word, then the smallest meaningful part of a word.
|You've met these already - but more later!|
You've met clauses, too, but let's take a closer look at four important types of clause:
Independent and Main Clauses
Subordinate or dependant clauses
She ate the cake because she is greedy.
In the above sentence, the subordinate clause, 'because she is greedy' is linked to its main clause by the subordinating conjunction, 'because', the existence of which prevents the clause being a main clause.
There are many subordinating conjunctions in English, some are single words, others are small phrases. Can you find a subordinating conjunction in this next sentence?
'He hit him even though he was his friend'
The Relative Clause