The Word 'Sentences' Itself Tells Us
Something about English Language

Before we enter the world of English language sentences, why not dwell a little bit on the word 'sentences' itself? It is interesting to do so because it tells us something fundamental about English language.

When I hear the word sentences, my mind is immediately forced to make a choice...without usually being aware of it.

It goes through certain options and almost instantaneously, the choice is made.

This happens not only with me, but with all who understand English when they encounter certain words in the language.

The Word "Sentences" Means...

In my case, for the word sentences the choice would be from the following alternatives. I would ask myself...

  1. Is the speaker or writer referring to punishments allotted to criminals by judges at the end of certain legal procedures in a court of law?

  2. Is he or she discussing philosophy or theology and referring to Peter Lombard's books? We often refer to the collection as just 'Sentences' and to him as the 'Master of Sentences.'

  3. Is the speaker or writer referring to something which people make up by putting words together?

How the Choice is Made

When someone says that in a certain State, the judges give harsh sentences, I know he or she does not mean that the grammar of the judges' utterances is unpleasant. I understand that they mean the punishments allotted are severe.

When theologians refer to Peter Lombard as the Master of the Sentences, I know that they are not trying to say that Peter Lombard was an excellent grammarian, though he must have been one! People in those days really knew their grammar, unlike large groups of people today who don't.

Be that as it may, but that brings me to the two points I want to make about...

This Site and English Language

  1. In this Site, we are in the world of language and grammar. Here, the word 'sentences' means some word-groupings which have certain syntactic or semantic features.

    The whole section on English sentences is created to give you sufficient knowledge about these word-groups.

  2. Here is the more important point.

    Those who are learning English should take it as a way of life that in English you cannot expect one-to-one correspondence between...

    • spelling and meaning - for you can have the same-spelling word with more than one meaning (e.g. wind.)

    • pronunciation and meaning - you can have the same pronunciation, but different meanings (e.g. fare and fair.)

    • spelling + pronunciation, and meaning - same spelling, same pronunciation, but two different meanings (e.g. bear)

Judging the Context

English words require from us that we judge the context.

In other words, we should know what is said where and when. We can then select the correct meaning from the possible ones.

This is a skill which a student of English should realize that he will have to develop.

So, keep this at the back of your mind, while you read and encounter words. You will begin to look at words differently then.

For Further Reading and Study...

Related Pages

The World of Sentences

The Phrase

A Semantic Understanding of the Phrase

The Clause

The Sentence

Parts of a Sentence

Sentence Structure

Subject of a Sentence