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Linguistics 3: The Syntax of English: Present and Past


Admission requirements

Linguistics 2 must have been successfully completed.


In this course, a follow-up to Linguistics 2: The Syntax of English, we study the sentence structure and word order (syntax) of English. In the first part of the course, we mainly pay attention to the syntax of present-day standard (British) English and to several syntactic phenomena in non-standard varieties of present-day English. We introduce Chomsky’s generative theory that we will use to explain the syntactic phenomena of English. In the second part of the course, we focus on the syntax of early English. We discuss a number of syntactic changes that took place in the history of English and show how generative theory can account for them.

Course objectives

  • Students have the ability to analyse and represent the syntactic structure of English.

  • Students have the ability to formulate syntactic arguments.

  • Students know some important descriptive tools and theoretical concepts of generative syntax.

  • Students are familiar with a number of key characteristics of the syntax of early English

  • Students are able to describe a number of key syntactic changes in the history of English

  • A one-hour written mid-term examination (covering the first part of the course)

  • A two-hour written end-of-term examination (covering the entire course)


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture (1 hour p/w)

  • Tutorial (1 hour p/w)

Assessment method


  • A one-hour written mid-term examination with closed questions and short open questions

  • A two-hour final examination with closed questions, short open questions and essay questions


  • Mid-term written examination: 30%

  • End-of-term examination: 70%

  • A minimum mark of 5.49 for the mid-term exam

  • A minimum mark of 5.49 for the end-of-term exam


The mid-term exam and the end-of-term exam can be retaken if one or both marks are 5.49 or less.

Inspection and feedback

Attendance is compulsory. Missing more than two tutorials means that students will be excluded from the tutorials. Unauthorized absence also applies to being unprepared, not participating and/or not bringing the relevant course materials to class.

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will be organized.

Reading list

  • Trips, Carola. 2015. English syntax in three dimensions: History – synchrony – diachrony. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. (The Leiden University Library offers online access to this book.)

  • A selection of articles/book chapters (if these are not available in the University Library, they will be made available in Brightspace).


Enrolment through My Studymap (Login | Universiteit Leiden) is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte

Registration Contractonderwijs


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Student administration Arsenaal


Not applicable.