Finding Out More


Are you now intrigued by the world of syntax? Want to find out more about the topics you have merely touched upon? Then you’ve found the right place! Here you’ll find a list of really great websites, books, textbooks and journals that take what you’ve learnt already and go into more detail, as well as introducing you to many more wonderful things about syntax.



  • The recommended textbook for first year syntax students, as already stated on the page what is syntax, is Analysing Sentences, An Introduction to English Syntax (Third Edition) by Noel Burton-Roberts. This book is a great foundation for anyone who wants to start from the very basics. The book is clearly laid out and easy to understand, with countless diagrams and practise questions to help you along the way. More information on this book can be found here.
  • If you are interested in finding out more about the history of theories, syntactitions, and approaches to linguistics, there is a really great in-depth book called 200 years of Syntax; A Critical Survey by Giogio Graffi. He covers absolutely everything in this book, and therefore is quite a hefty read. Take a peak of what’s inside here.
  • If all that writing seems too daunting, take a look at this book instead: Concise Encyclopedia of Syntactic Theory by Keith Brown and Jim Miller. Sections are broken down into more edible chunks, without compromise on the information. Take a look here.
  • If you want to find out how the human language developed from simple animal noises into the complicated sentences we use today, have a read through Language and Species by Derek Bickerton. As far as academic texts go, this is a fairly easy read and if you enjoy reading about natural human history as well as linguistics, you’ll most likely enjoy this book. You can find a preview here.
  • And finally, here’s a book that anyone could read; The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker. It is informative and interesting He addresses the view that humans are born with an innate capacity for language in a such a way that even us students can get our heads around it. Quoted as “An extremely valuable book, very informative, and very well written as well.” by Noam Chomsky, [1] it's definitely worth a look! Take a sneak peek at what's in store here.


  • Syntax is a peer reviewed journal established in 1988 and is said to be one of the best of its kind. Obviously, this journal is not generally accessible however it is important to include it here as a way of showing you that syntax is still current today.


  • The following website is fantastic as it covers all things syntax and is easily understandable. It gives clear descriptions and also quotes varieties of opinions from several different experts. It also includes information such as basic parts of speech, generative grammar, universal grammar and many more interesting topics. You could spend a long time on this website, its definitely worth a look.
  • Chomsky is one of the most influential linguist of the 20th and 21st century and has done a lot of work. It would be impossible to cover it all on our website so here’s one that’s done it for us.
  • If you’re still trying to get your head around the idea of ‘prescriptive vs descriptive’ which is mentioned on how syntax is studied, take a look at these two websites. Both clearly lay out the differences between the two ideas and give examples to help you understand: 


[1] website: “Steven Pinker” [Accessed 03.06.2012]

A global reputation

Sheffield is a research university with a global reputation for excellence. We're a member of the Russell Group: one of the 24 leading UK universities for research and teaching.