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[Fshare]A Grammar for Reading and Writing


Pass: FDTU


A Grammar for Reading and Writing

(adapted from

We do not read words, one by one. Meaning is contained not so much in individual words as in collections of words conveying broader or more specific ideas.

Readers thus make sense of a sentence by breaking it into meaningful chunks and examining their interrelationships. Skillful writers focus not so much on individual words, as on creating and rephrasing larger phrases and clauses.

The topics covered here describe the "meaningful chunks" of English sentence structure. In so doing they examine key grammatical principles underlying effective reading and writing.              

Speaking Constructions, Not Words

When discussing speech, we say we know something when we can repeat it "word for word." Yet, when we speak, we do not really speak "one word at a time." We break the flow of words into chunks. And we do not do this randomly, simply to take a breath now and then. We insert pauses to break the flow into meaningful chunks. We do not say

          I left my      raincoat on the                  chair.

We say:

I left my raincoat     on the chair.

When we break a sentence into portions, whether by pauses or intonation, we are actually doing grammatical analysis. We break the sentence into chunks to facilitate understanding.

Reading and Writing Constructions, Not Words

Words appear on a page one word after another. Yet readers do not read word by word, one word at a time. As with speech, we find meaning by grouping words into larger units.

You might think that you read the previous sentence word by word:

       As   with   speech,   we   find    meaning   by    grouping    words   into    larger   units.

Yet meaning becomes apparent only when you see the line somewhat as:

As with speech,          we find meaning    

  by grouping words          into larger units.

It makes little difference whether we call these units chunks or use more technical terminology (such as phrases and clauses , or the more general term constructions ), the point is the same: We read chunks, not individual words. 

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