Chapter 8: Forming Sentences

This long chapter looks at how our mind combines words to generate sentences. The model of the mental grammar that we propose is quite simple: Words and features are stored in the mental lexicon, and the operation MERGE combines these words and features into organized, but simple structures. In this chapter, we learn how to observe the behaviour of sentences to draw conclusions about how these structures are organized in our minds, and how to use the notation called tree diagrams to illustrate that organization.

When you’ve completed this chapter, you will be able to:

  • use the evidence of constituency tests to identify the phrases within a sentence,
  • draw tree diagrams to represent declarative sentences in English,
  • draw tree diagrams to represent questions in English.

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Chapter 8: Forming Sentences by Catherine Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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