A Functional Approach to Understanding Grammar

A Functional Grammar Guide for Writers - Derek Irwin

Derek Irwin [+-]
University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
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Derek Irwin is the Head of School for the founding of the School of English at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. He completed his BA (Hon) in Theatre and Literature at the University of Guelph, his MA in English Literature at York University, and his PhD specializing in Canadian Literature and Textual Analysis at York University, Canada. He spent eight years as an ESL instructor in various locations before turning to systemic functional linguistics as a framework for language inquiry. He was a grammar and writing instructor at York University, and a founding faculty member of Lakehead University's Orillia campus, before joining the University of Nottingham, first at the Ningbo China campus and then on to Malaysia. He supervises PhD students in several areas, including second-language pedagogy, genre and text analysis, language modelling, language contact, identity and culture. His most recent critical work focuses on grammatical resources for lexical movement across languages, literary textual analysis, and writing for post-secondary students.
Viktoria Jovanovic-Krstic [+-]
University of Toronto
Viktoria Jovanovic-Krstic is a sessional faculty member at the University of Toronto and a faculty member at Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Jovanovic-Krstic teaches for the Writing and Rhetoric Program and The Faculty of Applied Arts and Science respectively. Her research interests are located in Appraisal Analysis, Business Communications and writing and rhetoric. She teaches courses in writing, rhetoric, and communications. She has published in the areas of war discourse, writing pedagogy, and reading and writing theory


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.

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Irwin, Derek; Jovanovic-Krstic, Viktoria. A Functional Approach to Understanding Grammar. A Functional Grammar Guide for Writers. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Sep 2021. ISBN 9781781792469. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=26424. Date accessed: 14 Oct 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.26424. Sep 2021

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