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Book: A Functional Grammar for Writers

Chapter: A Functional Approach to Understanding Grammar

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.26424


This chapter takes the previous approach of clause-level constituents and elaborates it according to the types of grammar as delineated by functional grammarians such as Halliday and Matthiessen (Introduction to Functional Grammar, 3rd ed. 2004), Martin (English Text: System and Structure 1985), Butt et. al, (Using Functional Grammar: an explorer’s guide 2000) and Thompson (Introducing Functional Grammar, 2nd ed. 2004), amongst others. This approach includes three strands, or metafunctions, in language, pertaining to notions of the clause as interaction, the clause as message, and the clause as part of text structure. What is most important to emphasize here is that grammar is part of a holistic system of systems in language, embedded in context. The simple fact is that we use language to achieve something, and there are a number of tools at our disposal as language users which allow us to achieve these varying goals.
By the end of this chapter, readers will have a better grasp of the various ways we can approach the grammars of English, depending on what strand of meaning we wish to focus on at the time.

Chapter Contributors

  • Derek Irwin ( - dirwin) 'University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus'
  • Viktoria Jovanovic-Krstic ( - vkrstic) 'University of Toronto'