English for Academic Purposes: Grammar
Grammar in EAP
Grammar is an essential component of EAP as, without grammar, there is nothing to hold the vocabulary items together within the texts. These vocabulary items are constructed from separate parts and inflect (Morphology) and occur in sequences (Syntax). The morphology and syntax is what makes the grammar of the language. As with all registers of English, EAP uses verbs, nouns, prepositions, articles, adverbs etc.
The important question, though, is: which aspects of grammar are relevant for EAP? The grammatical forms that are used in academic English differ in their distributions from other registers, and need to be studied carefully. According to Biber, Johansson, Leech, Conrad & Finegan, (1999, p. 65), approximately 55% of lexical words in academic texts are nouns, 20% are adjectives, 15% are verbs and 10% are adverbs.
For example, written language is grammatically more complex than spoken language (Biber, 1988; Biber, Johansson, Leech, Conrad & Finegan, 1999; Chafe, 1982; Cook, 1997; Halliday,1989). Written texts are lexically dense compared to spoken language - they have proportionately more lexical words than grammatical words. Written texts are shorter and have longer, more complex words and phrases. They have more noun-based phrases, more nominalisations, and more lexical variation. Written language has more subordinate clauses, more "that/to" complement clauses, more long sequences of prepositional phrases, more attributive adjectives and more passives than spoken language.
A good starting point is Biber, Johansson, Leech & Finegan (1992) or Biber (2006). Here are some aspects of grammar that are considered important in EAP:
Nouns and Nominal Groups
Pre & Post-Modification
Adjectives & Adjectival Groups
Verbs and Verbal Groups
Adjectives/Advebs and Adjectival/Adverbial Groups
Used as complements.
Words, Word Form and Word Order
Correct Words & Word Forms
Clauses and Simple sentences
Clauses and Simple Sentences
Above the Sentence & Cohesion
Ellipsis and substitution
Can you punctuate this text? Punctuation Exercise.
Can you spell these words? Spelling Exercise
Systemic Functional Linguistics
The grammatical description and analysis presented here is based on Halliday's Systemic Functional Linguistics. See: Grammar in EAP: SFL