The world of experience: process types and grammatical metaphor

A Functional Grammar 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 addresses the various process types available to a writer in English, and explains how the choice of these process types positions the text. In essence, writers encode experience either in material processes (the world of doing), mental processes (the world of thinking and feeling), or relational processes (the world of identifying or attributing). Important also are verbal processes (the world of saying), in which we are able to place words and concepts in the mouths of others, a means in academic writing of creating solid argument structures. Finally, it turns to the resource or grammatical metaphor – the ways that we can take something from one type of grammatical structure (the verb “drink,” for example) and shift it to another (the participial adjective or gerund “drinking”) to allow for greater abstraction of process, thereby allowing greater precision of modification. By the end of this chapter, readers will be able to see the broad patterns in process type and participant in English, and understand why certain choices are made in academic writing. Further, they will be able to judge and increase or decrease lexical density according to the needs of the text.

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Irwin, Derek; Jovanovic-Krstic, Viktoria. The world of experience: process types and grammatical metaphor. A Functional Grammar for Writers. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Mar 2026. ISBN 9781781792469. Date accessed: 20 Jul 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.26426. Mar 2026

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