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ET121: Describing English Language


Are the rules of English grammar fixed for all time or are they changing? Is it important to follow rules such as not splitting an infinitive? What is the difference between an adverb and an adverbial? In this module, you will learn about the structure of the English language and explore answers to these questions. You will develop a sound grasp of a useful method for exploring English grammar, and learn the relevant terminology. By the end of the module, you will be able to apply this descriptive framework to any text in English and understand the effect of grammar choices on your style of writing.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • distinguish between description and prescription in English grammar.
  • Analyse and label sentence constituents accurately.
  • Parse any sentence.
  • Understand the role of grammar in effective communication.

Learning Experience


Core content will be presented during weekly 2-hour lectures.


We will meet in a weekly 1-hour small-group seminar to practice and apply course concepts.



2000 word assignment


2-hour written examination (50%)

Preparatory Reading

  • Leech, G., Deuchar, M., & Hoogenraad, R. (2006). (2nd ed.) English grammar for today. Basingstoke [England]: Palgrave Macmillan.

Academic Staff

Tilly Harrison