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Sunday, September 30, 2018

What is syntax?


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Tjo3ya

Photo license: CC BY-SA 3.0


What is syntax? Here is my definition:


Syntax is a system of rules for the combination of words


What's the difference between syntax and grammar? While syntax is concerned with the ordering of words, grammar has a wider scope which includes how words are formed. Grammar includes morphology which has to do with rules on how to use prefixes, root words and other word variations. Although these two words have a large overlap, I believe there is a clear difference in meaning.


Without syntax, there would not be rules for how words in a sentence relate to each other. This would result in confusion and misinterpretation. For example if I said, "Crayons the box are in 64 there" you would be unclear on the meaning. But if I followed the correct syntactic rules I would have said, "There are 64 crayons in the box" and you would be able to understand. Although you might have been able to guess the meaning from the first collection of words, syntax makes the second collection much more clear.



License: CC BY-SA 4.0