An understanding of syntax, how sentences are constructed, and semantics, how words and phrases are related, are required skills for students to become proficient readers. The ability to make the text cohere or stick together is not always natural. Readers must be able to make connections between and across words, phrases, and sentences. Just because students can decode all the words on the page does not mean that they will comprehend what they read.
Students can get lost when reading complex sentences that contain many ideas or text that contains a lot of pronouns and phrases.
Syntax is basically the grammar of language. Consider the following example:
A dog is a mammal.
If students understand the syntax of the sentence, even if they cannot decode the word mammal, they know that the word has to be a noun because it follows an article and is the last word in the sentence. Students would be able to answer this literal question without decoding the word mammal: What is a dog?
Semantics is an understanding of how the meaning of a word or phrase can change depending on the language around it. Consider the following examples:
We can fish.
Depending on the other words around this sentence it could have different meanings.
Students must know how to use the surrounding language to clarify the meaning.
John is a snake in the grass.
Does the author mean this literally or metaphorically?
After work, Trisha and Claudia went to the store to get supplies for Ed’s birthday party. Although it was just down the street, they decided to drive because the celebration was less than an hour away.
Project Managers, Inclusion in Texas Network
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