Revelations on Grammar Teaching Based on an Analysis on Syntactic Structure of Transformational Generative Grammar and Metafunctions of Systemic Functional Grammar

English grammar; linguistics; Chomsky; Halliday; Syntax


  • Yibing Zhang
    College of Foreign Studies, Jinan University, Guangzhou, PR China
October 9, 2022


English has become one of the compulsory subjects for students in China. As a foreign language, especially one whose grammatical structure is, in some sense, diverse from learners’ mother tongue, it requires teachers to research proper methods to present syntactic patterns for students’ sake. When teachers turn to linguistics, there are two well-known theories about syntax from different points of perspective. They are transformational-generative grammar, proposed by Chomsky, and systemic functional grammar by Halliday. Concerned that most beginners may be challenged to be exposed to a totally new language that embraces foreign cultures; hence, learners are supposed to start with what is called the most fundamental syntax---the five basic English sentence patterns. As for teachers, it is necessary to analyze those sentence patterns and come up with practical teaching methods so that they can help learner study more efficiently. In this sense, this essay is far too meaningful. This dissertation aims to reveal the potential relations between the two theories in analyzing the five sentences as part of the efforts to seek more appropriate ways of discussing English syntactic features. Also, hopefully, it may bring some enlightenment to teachers. The method this paper applied is comparative analysis. After the research, the two theories have their place in explaining different types of sentences.