Logo Students

LING2218 – Grammar and Meaning

2020 – Session 1, Weekday attendance, North Ryde

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, any references to assessment tasks and on-campus delivery may no longer be up-to-date on this page.

Students should consult iLearn for revised unit information.

Find out more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and potential impacts on staff and students

General Information

Pdf icon Download as PDF
Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit convenor and teaching staff
Annabelle Lukin
Margaret Wood
Credit points Credit points
Prerequisites Prerequisites
10cp from LING units at 1000 level
Corequisites Corequisites
Co-badged status Co-badged status
Unit description Unit description

Grammar is the powerhouse of language. The grammar of language emerges over time, as people use language for the varied processes of living. This course will introduce you to the relationship of grammar and meaning, through understanding the three functions of language: - textual function: how we organise our language into coherent text in the many different contexts in which we interact - interpersonal function: how we enact our social relationships through language - ideational function: how we use language to construe our experience of the world around us, and the world inside us. The analysis you will learn about in this unit is used in many different fields of study, including computational linguistics, translation, literary studies, child language development, political and media discourse, the language of health professionals, the language of education, etc. This is a course for people who love language, or who understand that language is important to all aspects of life.

Important Academic Dates

Information about important academic dates including deadlines for withdrawing from units are available at https://students.mq.edu.au/important-dates

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • ULO1: Demonstrate understanding of three functions of language: the ideational, interpersonal, the textual functions
  • ULO2: Apply grammatical concepts to the study of naturally occurring text
  • ULO3: Identify grammatical patterns in naturally occurring text
  • ULO4: Analyse and interpret grammatical patterning in naturally occurring text
  • ULO5: Explain the effects of the grammatical patterning in text in relation to the nature of the social and cultural context of the text

Assessment Tasks

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Assessment details are no longer provided here as a result of changes due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Students should consult iLearn for revised unit information.

Find out more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and potential impacts on staff and students

General Assessment Information

Late Assignment Submission

  • Late submissions without an extension will receive a penalty of 3% of the total mark available for the assessment task per day including weekend days (i.e. this is 3% of the total marks possible for the task – NOT 3% of the marks the student received. For example, if the assessment task is worth 100 marks and the student is two days late their mark for the task is reduced by 6 marks.)
  • Late submission of an assessment task without an extension will not be accepted at all after the date on which marked assessment tasks have been released to the rest of the class. Any student with unsubmitted work at this date will receive a mark of 0 for the assessment task.
  • Extensions will only be given in special circumstances, and can be requested by completing the Special Consideration request at ask.mq.edu.au and providing the requisite supporting documentation.
  • Extensions that will result in submissions after the assessment task has been returned to the class will require a separate assessment task to be completed at the unit convenor's discretion.
  • For more information on Special Consideration, see the university website https://students.mq.edu.au/study/my-study-program/special-consideration\
  • If a student fails the unit due to non-submission of an assignment or non-attendance at an exam, an FA grade will be applied in accordance with the University's Assessment Policy.
  • Unit convenors have the discretion to determine whether or not students should fail a unit on the basis of lateness penalties alone if other learning outcomes of the unit have been met.

Extensions cannot continue beyond the start of the following semester, and students should be aware that long extensions may impact graduation dates.

Moderation of assessment

All assessment is marked by tutors and is moderated using pre-marking forms of standardisation such as the use of marking rubrics, and post-marking moderation such as sample checking and statistical analysis of the spread of marks to ensure fairness and consistency across the unit. Final marks are subject to ratification at the Faculty of Human Sciences exam meeting at the end of semester.

Delivery and Resources

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Any references to on-campus delivery below may no longer be relevant due to COVID-19.

Please check here for updated delivery information: https://ask.mq.edu.au/account/pub/display/unit_status

The course has a two hour lecture, plus a one hour tutorial. The iLearn website contains self-paced online learning activities.  There is also a glossary of terms on the iLearn site. 


Although the lectures will be recorded via the ECHO360 system, my lectures are interactive. I like students to engage in discussion and activities around the concepts being introduced. Please consider this when deciding whether to attend lectures or listen via ECHO360.

My iLearn website also has ‘mini-lectures’ – short, prerecorded lectures on key concepts from the course, designed for students unable to attend some lectures. 

You can choose between the two following books. The first is more detailed and comprehensive; but the second is easier to read. The first is available as an e-book in our library as well as in hard copy. If you can obtain a second hand copy of the 3rd edition this will work just as well. 

Halliday, M. A. K., & Matthiessen, C. M. I. M. (2014). An Introduction to Halliday’s Functional Grammar: Fourth Edition (3rd ed.). London: Arnold. [Referred to as 'IFG']

Butt, D, Fahey, R, Feez, S, Spinks, S. 2012. Using Functional Grammar: An Explorer's Guide. Macmillan Australia. [Referred to as 'UFG']

Unit Schedule

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

The unit schedule/topics and any references to on-campus delivery below may no longer be relevant due to COVID-19. Please consult iLearn for latest details, and check here for updated delivery information: https://ask.mq.edu.au/account/pub/display/unit_status


Lecture topics



What is language? What is grammar? 

We begin this unit by exploring some ideas about the nature of language including how it is that we come to be users of language. Language is more than grammar, so we also need to understand the place of grammar within language. While often thought of as ‘rules’, grammar is a resource for meaning. I’ll illustrate this point by looking at what verbs do. Verbs are at the centre of the most important grammatical unit, the clause. The verb is a structure that allows us to represent and construe process, flux and change. So, it’s time to move beyond the ‘verb is a doing word’ definition, to explore the power and beauty of the grammar of verbs.

Also, see my column here for a bit of background on the way grammar is explored in this unit.

Halliday’s Introduction to Functional Grammar (IFG):Chapter 1

Using Functional Grammar (UFG):Chapter 1&2


Constituency 1: units in grammar

In week 1, we looked at the forms and functions of a key piece of structure in grammar, the ‘verbal group’. This week we extend our picture by looking at the other important units in grammar. As we know, language can be viewed from different points of view. The units that we study depend on how we are looking at language. If we are looking at sound or writing patterns, then we identify units relevant to those aspects of language. These units are different from units in grammar, or semantics. We will look at the grammatical units of clause, group and phrase, word, and morpheme. To understand what we can 'see' in language structure we have to understand what motivates it, and relate it to the motif of 'choice'.

IFG: Chapter 2

UFG: Chapter 1&2


Constituency 2: units in grammar

In this second week on constituency, we continue our examination of the grammatical units of clause, group and phrase, word, and morpheme. We will talk about grammatical words and content words, and examine the relation between formal and functional ways of understanding grammatical organization in language. We will apply this analysis to a series of everyday short texts.

IFG: Chapter 2

UFG: Chapter 1&2


What is a clause? 

To use language in the many and varied ways we interact, we need to put words into structures. The most important grammatical unit is the clause, because it is through the clause we create ‘experiential’, ‘interpersonal’ and ‘textual meanings’. In this lecture, we will build on the two previous weeks by looking at whole clauses, and different types of clauses. We will even see clauses inside (i.e. ‘embedded in’) other clauses.

IFG: Chapter 2 (section 2.7)

UFG: Chapter 3


Clause as representation: language construing experience 1

Humans use language for meaning making of three kinds. This week we begin exploring how grammar allows us to make sense of experience, to turn experience into meaning that we can share with our nearest and dearest, or complete strangers. We will come back to the verbal group, and look at different kinds of verbs/processes, and how we use grammar to construe action, saying and thinking, and relations of identity and similarity.  

IFG: Chapter 5

UFG: Chapter 4


Clause as representation: language construing experience 2


IFG: Chapter 5

UFG: Chapter 4


Reading week (Easter Friday – so no lecture or tutorials)



Clause as exchange: language enacting social relationships 1

Humans don't produce linguistic structure as an end in itself. We don't just talk, we talk to someone, even when that someone is someone we don't know or can never know. There is always an audience for our talk. There are many dimensions to our social relations. For instance, how do you talk to people who have some kind of power over you? How does your talk reflect a relation of familiarity or intimacy? When you talk to very young kids, or to elderly people, how does your language vary? These kinds of distinctions are reflected and made through linguistic choices. This week we begin looking at the grammar that enables us to enact our social relations.

IFG: Chapter 4

UFG: Chapter 5&6


Clause as exchange: language enacting social relationships 2


IFG: Chapter 4

UFG: Chapter 5&6


Clause as message: language for creating coherent text 1

Language allows us to make meanings of two kinds simultaneously: meanings about the world, and meanings about the social relations that pertain to a given situation. How do we make all this hang together? The textual function is the grammar for creating coherent texts. This week we look into the options in grammar for the order of elements in a clause, and how this order has consequences for text structure and coherence.

IFG: Chapter 3

UFG: Chapter 7


Clause as message: language for creating coherent text 2


IFG: Chapter 3

UFG: Chapter 7


Analysing text: patterns of meaning

This week we work through all the analysis we have done so far, to bring out the patterns of meaning in a sample text. 

UFG: Chapter 12


Language in society, society in language

We analyse real data in linguistics to help us understand the nature of language. But we also apply our insights to understanding all kinds of language-related issues, from language as an aesthetic resource in the study of literature, to language used to divide communities for political purposes. In this lecture I examine some of the many applications of the tools you have studied in this unit. 

See iLearn for suggested readings.



Policies and Procedures

Macquarie University policies and procedures are accessible from Policy Central (https://staff.mq.edu.au/work/strategy-planning-and-governance/university-policies-and-procedures/policy-central). Students should be aware of the following policies in particular with regard to Learning and Teaching:

Students seeking more policy resources can visit the Student Policy Gateway (https://students.mq.edu.au/support/study/student-policy-gateway). It is your one-stop-shop for the key policies you need to know about throughout your undergraduate student journey.

If you would like to see all the policies relevant to Learning and Teaching visit Policy Central (https://staff.mq.edu.au/work/strategy-planning-and-governance/university-policies-and-procedures/policy-central).

Student Code of Conduct

Macquarie University students have a responsibility to be familiar with the Student Code of Conduct: https://students.mq.edu.au/study/getting-started/student-conduct​


Results published on platform other than eStudent, (eg. iLearn, Coursera etc.) or released directly by your Unit Convenor, are not confirmed as they are subject to final approval by the University. Once approved, final results will be sent to your student email address and will be made available in eStudent. For more information visit ask.mq.edu.au or if you are a Global MBA student contact globalmba.support@mq.edu.au

Student Support

Macquarie University provides a range of support services for students. For details, visit http://students.mq.edu.au/support/

Learning Skills

Learning Skills (mq.edu.au/learningskills) provides academic writing resources and study strategies to help you improve your marks and take control of your study.

The Library provides online and face to face support to help you find and use relevant information resources. 

Student Enquiry Service

For all student enquiries, visit Student Connect at ask.mq.edu.au

If you are a Global MBA student contact globalmba.support@mq.edu.au

Equity Support

Students with a disability are encouraged to contact the Disability Service who can provide appropriate help with any issues that arise during their studies.

IT Help

For help with University computer systems and technology, visit http://www.mq.edu.au/about_us/offices_and_units/information_technology/help/

When using the University's IT, you must adhere to the Acceptable Use of IT Resources Policy. The policy applies to all who connect to the MQ network including students.

Changes since First Published

Date Description
23/02/2020 minor change to word length of one assignment