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Snap Language

Getting Smarter through Language

What is Grammar? (for a linguist)

For a linguist, grammar is far more than how to put sentences together. To understand the grammar of a language from the ground up, linguists understand the phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics of the language.

A Video Lesson

In the video below, Marc Franco discusses grammar from a linguist’s perspective. It is part of a video playlist about grammar and style on the Snap Language channel on YouTube.

Branches in Linguistics

Phonetics studies how humans produce and perceive speech sounds whereas phonology studies how speech sounds are put together to convey meaning.

In morphology, linguists study how words are formed. For example, the word “undeniably” in English attaches three affixes (un-, abl- and -ly) to “deny.” Many other strategies are used to create words in English and in other languages.

Syntax refers to the study of how words and morphemes combine to create phrases and sentences (or utterances). For example, the word order in English is subject-verb-object (or SVO) as in “John saw Mary.” Some languages place the verb at the end of the sentence, thus having a SOV structure. There are many other interesting things in syntax that keep linguists busy.

Semantics examines how we extract meaning from words, phrases, sentences, and larger units of discourse (e.g., a whole utterance composed of many phrases and sentences). When we speak, we perform myriad mental operations to express our ideas; in turn, our listeners must do the same to decode the message.