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Examples :: English Language :: Syntax in writing

Syntax in writing

Syntax is the 'mechanics' of writing. It's mainly a grammatical function, involving correct use of sentence structure.

Correct syntax in English, is less complex than other languages. It lacks the genders and arrangement of verbs common in many European languages.

Syntax rules for singular and plural:

  • In English the present and other tenses are common to all sentences.
  • The use of the 'to be' verbs in English, (is, am, are) are all consistent.
  • Pronouns ('I, you, he, she, they') and objects ('it, the door, etc.') have consistent common usage of specific verbs related to them, based on whether the subject is singular or plural.
  • Correct usage is always 'I am', 'he is', 'it is', 'they are', etc.
  • Possessive tenses, (has, have) are consistent based on the subject who is the possessor being singular or plural. 'I have', 'he/she has', 'it has' and 'they have' are always consistent.
  • Use of subject and verb must be correct, using plural forms as required by the subject.
  • Use of the plural always converts the rest of the sentence into a plural syntax. (see below)

Sentence structure:

'The cat sat on the mat' starts with the subject. Syntax is derived from the subject, the cat.

So the syntax here is:

Subject The cat (The word the is used to indicate a single subject in syntax)

Action verb (past tense) sat

Indicator/qualifying word on

Object the mat

Compound subjects in syntax

'Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party.'

The syntax is based on 'the time' as the subject. The verb is structured on 'the time' as a singular tense.

If you read this sentence without 'for all good men', it reads:

'Now is the time to come to the aid of the party.'

As you can see, this is a correct sentence structure.

It's a simple way to check syntax, defining a subject to make sure sentence structure is applied properly.

Converting syntax in a sentence

'I say these are the wrong socks.'

The use of the plural 'these' converts the rest of the sentence into a plural syntax, using the word 'are'.

The initial pronoun and verb, 'I say', isn't the subject, or part of the syntax, for the rest of the sentence.

Leave out the 'I say', and you get 'These are the wrong socks', which is correct syntax.

Common usage of syntax

Singular, present tense:

I am an accountant.          Verbs: is, am

Singular past tense:

I was an accountant.         Verbs: was, were

Singular future tense:

I will be an accountant.      Verbs: words meaning 'to be': will,

Singular second person for the above e cases:

Present tense:

You are an accountant.

Past tense:

You were an accountant.

Future tense:

You will be an accountant.

The basic rules for syntax in sentences are really just to use the correct verbs for the singular and plural.

Syntax error in writing: