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Linguistics 5B: English Words and Phrases: Structure and Interaction


Admission requirements

Linguistics 3 (or comparable course) is a prerequisite.


This course deals with the interaction between word formation (morphology) and two other linguistic levels: sentence structure (syntax) and sound structure (phonology). The first part of the course examines how the rules of morphology interact with the rules of syntax. We will look at a number of morphological processes that affect the number of noun phrases (like subject and object) a verb selects (compare They ate carrots / They overate). We will also discuss phenomena on the boundary between word formation and syntax, such as phrasal verbs (call up). The second part of the course examines how English word structure may interact with sound structure. We will analyze the ways in which morphemes combine with each other, and how this may have an impact on the phonological structure of words. For example, some suffixes may trigger a stress shift (e.g. -ian in grammarian, Shakespearean), while others do not affect the stress pattern of the base with which they are combined (e.g., -ment in development, government). Morphological processes can also be sensitive to the phonological structure of morphemes (e.g. the past-tense suffix variants [t] and [d], whose distribution depends on a phonological property of the base).

Course objectives

In block 1, students:

  • learn to analyze the structure of English words

  • gain more insight into morphological and syntactic processes and how they interact

  • acquire knowledge of a number of theoretical proposals that consider the morphology-syntax interface

  • gain more insight into English phenomena that are on the boundary between morphology and syntax
    In block 2, students:

  • gain more insight into morphological and phonological processes and how they interact

  • acquire knowledge of a number of theoretical proposals that consider the morphology-phonology interface

  • gain familiarity with some experimental methods to test morphological and phonological theories
    In addition, students:

  • gain familiarity with some of the theoretical terminology and techniques of syntactic, phonological and morphological analysis and learn to apply this knowledge to the description of English and other languages

  • gain basic knowledge on how to formulate relevant research questions

  • acquire skills to formulate sound morphological, syntactic and phonological arguments


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (2 hours p/w)

Assessment method


  • Mid-term (written) exam on morphology and syntax;

  • Final (written) exam on morphology and phonology.

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


  • Mid-term exam: 50%

  • Final Exam: 50%


To pass the course, a minimum of a 5.5 is required for both the mid-term and the final exam. If the mark for either of the exams is 5.49 or lower, the exam will have to be retaken during the resit period.

Inspection and feedback

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

  • Lieber, Rochelle (2022). Introducing Morphology (3rd revised edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (selected chapters)

  • Additional reading (to be announced)


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 is not applicable.


  • 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.