Reverse detail from Kakelbont MS 1, a fifteenth-century French Psalter. This image is in the public domain. Daniel Paul O'Donnell

Forward to Navigation

English 2810a: English Grammar (Spring 2010)

Posted: Jan 07, 2010 13:01;
Last Modified: Jun 22, 2010 11:06



Times and location

Tues/Thurs, 13:40-14:55, C671 (Room Subject to Change).

Office and Office Hours

My office is room B810B. My telephone numbers, a map, and other contact information is available on my Contact page.

I hold regular office hours. My office hours for Spring 2010 are:

About this course

This course is described in the calendar as follows.

The basic structures of English: word classes, sentence elements and basic aspects of syntax and morphology. Primary emphasis on descriptive grammar, though some attention will be paid to prescriptive approaches (Course description, University Calendar).

In other words, this is a course on how English is spoken and written in a variety of contemporary contexts, rather than, primarily, a course on how we are expected to write in, for example, university essays. We will be looking at how words are formed (morphology), and how they are used in phrases, clauses, and sentences (syntax). We will be considering examples of standard, formal, “correct” English (though we will also be learning why this term is something of a misnomer), but also informal, regional, and slang variants. The goal is to learn how the language is put together.

This is a technical course that will require weekly exercises and regular attendance. Students often report that the course is difficult but very rewarding to those who put in the requisite effort.

Learning goals

By the end of the course students should have a broad understanding of English syntax and morphology. The should be able to identify various types of linguistic structures including word classes (parts of speech), morphological affixes, and various types of phrases, clauses, and sentences. They should also be able to explain various common features of English grammar.

While teaching “correct” style (i.e. the standard way of writing or speaking in formal situations) is not a primary goal of the course, students who take this class will study some instances of such style and be able to explain such rules in linguistic terms.



These texts will be supplemented with required readings from the Internet.


I will be using the following assessment scheme in this course:

Category Percentage
Preparation and Participation 10%
Essays 30%
Content Reviews 60%

Preparation and participation. Preparation and Participation is worth 10% of your total grade. This will be measured through in-class assignments and quizzes.

Essays. There are two essays in this course:

All essays are to be handed in via Turnitin" (instructions for how to sign up).

Content Reviews. There will be three content reviews: two in term and a final exam. The final exam will be worth 30% of your final grade; your best in-term content review will be worth 20% of your final grade, and your lowest scoring in-term content review will be worth 10%.

All content reviews are to be written on Moodle in the Testing Centre. Here are instructions on how to sign up for Moodle


The following policies will be followed in all my classes unless otherwise announced. You are expected to be familiar with the policies reproduced here and in the more general section on my website. These additional web pages are to be considered part of this syllabus for the purposes of this course. Failure to conform to any of these policies may result in your grade being lowered.

Grade scale

The University of Lethbridge keeps track of student performance using a letter and grade point system (See section 4 of the University Calendar). Instructors assign students a letter grade at the end of each course (the University does not issue or record mid-term grades). These letter grades are converted to a numerical value (a Grade Point) for assessing overall academic performance (a Grade Point Average or GPA). The University does not record percentage-type grades and does not have a fixed scale for conversion from percentage scores to letter grades and grade points. Each instructor is responsible for determining their own methodology for determining students’ final letter grade.

In my classes, I use the following letter-grade to percentage correspondences:

  Excellent Good Satisfactory Poor Minimal pass Failing
Letter A+ A A- B+ B B- C+ C C- D+ D F
Percent range 100-94 93-90 89-86 85-82 81-78 77-74 73-70 69-66 65-62 61-58 57-50 49-0
Conventional value 100 92 88 84 80 76 72 68 64 60 56 49-0
Grade point 4.0 3.7 3.3 3.0 2.7 2.3 2.0 1.7 1.3 1.0 0

How your grade is determined depends on the type of work being assessed. Tests of specific skills or knowledge (such as identification questions in literature classes, or fact-oriented tests in my grammar and language classes) are usually assigned a numeric score which is easily converted to a percentage. Essays, presentations, and other performance-oriented tests are usually graded by letter. I convert letter grades to percentages by taking the median value in each grade-range, and rounding up to the nearest whole percent. The only exceptions are A+ (which is converted to 100%), and F (which is converted to an arbitrary percentage between 0% and 49% based on my estimation of the work’s quality). These scores can be found in the conventional value row of the above table.

In marking work I try to keep the University’s official description of these grades in mind (a description can be found in the University Calendar, Part IV.3.a). If you get an A it means your work is excellent; a B means your work is good; a C means it is satisfactory; a D that it is barely acceptable (minimal pass); and an F that it is failing to meet University-level standards.

I have prepared rubrics for most types of qualitative assignments (assignments that do not expect the student simply to provide a correct factual answer). These can be found in my Academic Policies section:

Submitting Work

Tests, Exams, and Quizzes

Tests and Exams will be written in the University’s Testing Centre on Moodle. Quizzes may be presented on Moodle.

Essays and Reports

Essays and reports will normally be collected using Turnitin. Information on our account (URL, ID number, and Password) will be made available in our class space on Moodle:


This course uses plagiarism detection software. Any plagiarism will be treated very seriously: you can expect to receive a grade of 0 on the assignment as well as other penalties depending on the seriousness of the offence. In most cases, the penalty for plagiarism is an F on the course.

Class schedule

Week Date Topic Reading
1 Tue. 5/1 No class
Thur. 7/1 Welcome Syllabus and assessment
1 Tue. 12/1 No class
Thur. 14/1 No class
3 Mon. 18/1
  1. Sign in to Moodle and Turnitin following the emailed instructions (also reproduced here and here.)
  2. Create a profile and upload a clear photo of yourself to “Moodle”:
  3. Create a 2-page test document and submit it to Turnitin (the content of the test document is unimportant).
(nb: These assignments count as quizzes for your participation and preparation grade)
Tue. 19/1 What is Grammar? O’Dwyer, Introduction
Thur. 21/1 What is Grammar? Pinker; Wallace
4 Tue. 26/1 Quick Overview of Grammatical Concepts and Terms O’Donnell, “Essential Grammar” pages
Thur. 28/1 Quick Overview of Grammatical Concepts and Terms O’Donnell, “Essential Grammar” pages
5 Mon 1/2 Essay 1 due 11:59 on Turnitin
Tue. 2/2 Morphology Chapter 1
Thur. 4/2    
6 Tue. 9/2 Words Form Class Chapter 2
Thur. 11/2    
Reading Week 15-19/2
7 Tue. 23/2 Words Structure Class Chapter 3
Thur. 25/2    
8 Mon. 1/3-Sun. 7/3 Content Review 1
Tue. 2/3 Phrases Chapter 4
Thur. 4/3    
9 Tue. 9/3 Clauses Chapter 5
Thur. 11/3    
10 Tue. 16/3 Grammatical Functions Chapter 6
Thur. 18/3    
11 Tue. 23/3 Grammatical Functions Chapter 7
Thur. 25/3    
12 Mon. 29/3-Sun. 4/3 Content Review 2
Tue. 30/3 Clauses Chapter 8
Thur. 1/4    
13 Tue. 6/4 Grammatical Positions Chapter 9
Thur. 8/4    
14 Tue. 13/4 Sentences Chapter 10
Thur. 15/4 Conclusion/review  
Sun 18/4 Essay 2 due 11:59 on Turnitin




Textile help

Back to content

Search my site


Current teaching

Recent changes to this site


anglo-saxon studies, caedmon, citation, citation practice, citations, composition, computers, digital humanities, digital pedagogy, exercises, grammar, history, moodle, old english, pedagogy, research, student employees, students, study tips, teaching, tips, tutorials, unessay, universities, university of lethbridge

See all...

Follow me on Twitter

At the dpod blog