Pennsylvania College of Technology
ENL 111 - Vavra (Homepage)
For more information on syntax, 
visit the KISS Homepage

Introduction to Syntax
[For information on CASA, click here.]

Syntax and Style-Point Penalties on Major Papers

      In grading your major papers for this course, I deduct "Style Penalty Points" for errors such as subject/verb agreement, comma-splices, run-ons, fragments, etc. These will be marked by a "-1" in the margin next to the sentence that contains the error. Some students never lose any points; others have lost as many as ten points per paper. You can earn these points back by analyzing the relevant sentences (parentheses around prepositional phrases, underlining, brackets, etc.) and correcting the error. Do this, in pencil, on the paper that contains my marks. [Do not copy the sentences to other paper.] Then simply give me the paper back. If your analysis and corrections are right, you will get the points back. If they are not, after you get the paper back you are welcome to get the points back by seeing me (during office hours or by appointment) and going over the sentences, one by one. For Major Papers 1 - 4, you can earn the points back between the completion of the self-analysis assignment and the next to last week of classes. (I will not accept them during the last week or later, as I will have too many other papers to read and grade.) If you lose points on the last major paper, you can earn them back during the final exam period.


     Unlike what you have probably previously done in grammar, in these exercises you will be analyzing sentences in texts, not just pre-selected sentences. As a result, you will find very difficult sentences followed by relatively simple ones. DO NOT GIVE UP. Work through each exercise, sentence by sentence, following the directions. When you have done the best you can with a sentence, put the vertical line at the end of it and move on to the next sentence -- it may be a lot easier.
     There are some mistakes that you will be expected to make, and there are others that will get you into trouble. For example, if you underline a finite verb twice, I expect you to underline its subject next and then, if it has one, its complement. If I find finite verbs underlined, or subjects underlined, without their pattern partners, you are not following simple directions -- and you will be in trouble. Similarly, since a clause must have a subject verb pattern, I do not expect to see brackets without a subject/verb pattern underlined between them. If you follow directions, you will not have any of these problems.

Lessons in Syntax (doc)

A Psycholinguistic Model of How the Human Brain Processes Sentences

Practice Exercises with Answer Keys and Explanations

     Over the years, many students have looked for additional instructional help with the syntax exercises. Because my approach differs significantly from the traditional, going to other textbooks will probably only confuse you. Likewise, many of the tutors in the Tutoring Center will not be able to help you. (See the "Note to Tutors.") I have therefore created a set of "Practice Exercises" which you can use.
     The "Practice Exercises" consist of twelve jokes (on children in church) which were forwarded to me by David Evans, in our biology department. You can print out each joke, try to analyze it, and then check your answers against the answer keys which provide a step-by-step guide both to the answers, and to how to get them. (Remember that learning the analytical process is extremely important for you to succeed.) To get the "Practice Exercises," click here.

Grammar and the Logic of David Hume

CASA: Computer-Assisted Syntactic Analysis

      The computer program CASA is available in most of the computer labs. Log onto a computer, and in Windows, click on the "Start" button in the lower left corner. You should see "Dr. Vavra's programs." When your cursor is over it, you should see "CASA." Click on it to start the program. (You will need a 3.5" FORMATTED computer disk.)
      Some students who have access to a computer of their own have asked if they could have a copy of the program. To download a free copy of CASA to install on your own computer,  follow the directions below.

Downloading CASA to use on your own computer.

     CASA requires Windows 3.1 (or 95, or 98). You can use CASA in most of the computer labs on campus, but some students prefer to download and install it on their own computers. You are free to do so, but neither Ed Vavra, nor  Penn College is liable for any problems that may result from your doing so. [This is a fairly standard legal disclaimer.]
     CASA is provided here in a self-extracting ZIP file, CASAZIP.EXE.

To download the file to your computer, click here.

When the SAVE AS box appears, choose a subdirectory to save the file. [Before doing this, you may want to create, if you do not already have one, a "working" subdirectory, i.e., an empty subdirectory where you can temporarily save graphic, zipped, or other files that you are working with during a session. I simply call mine "T" (for "Temporary").]
     After you have saved the file and disconnected from the net, use "My Computer" (or any other file manager) to go to your temporary directory. Find the file "CASAZIP.EXE" and double click on it. The file should then automatically run and extract the CASA files. Double click on the file "Readme.TXT." Doing so should open the file so you can read it. It contains instructions for installing CASA on your computer.

Don't Have an "A" Drive?

     Many new computers do not have an "A" drive. If you want to install and use CASA on such a computer, you can "remap" another drive or subdirectory (folder) on your computer to make in an "A" drive. There are several ways to do this. 
     In Windows XP, you can go to "Programs," "Accessories," and select "Command Prompt." A black background window should appear. Type the command

The "H:" stands for any letter drive (or subdirectory, such as "C:/Temp" on your computer. This command will make your computer think it has an "A" drive until you turn the computer off.

This border is a reproduction of
The nymph Galatea
 c. 1512-14,  Fresco,  Villa Farnesina, Rome
Mark Harden's WWW Artchive 
[For educational use only]
Click here for the directory of my backgrounds based on art.