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Describing language

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Describing language

Do you know the difference between a noun and an adjective? Do you know why we say indefatigable but not unfluffabluable? Would you like to?

In this course you’ll go on a whistle-stop tour of all the key components of language. You’ll learn how to identify different parts of a language, from words all the way up to phrases and sentences. You’ll look at how English structures compare to other languages. You’ll get the chance to test your knowledge and undertake some simple analysis of your own. And you’ll also get to grips with how an understanding of language structure can help you to be creative and playful with language. Armed with this new knowledge, you’ll be able to explain why advertising works, and why jokes are funny!

Aimed at complete beginners, no knowledge of grammar has been assumed in this course. You’ll start at the beginning and go on a journey through the different levels of language structure together. You might also find this course useful if you’ve studied grammar in the past but have got a bit out of practice and need a refresher.



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Enrolling on the course will give you the opportunity to earn an Open University digital badge. Badges are not accredited by The Open University but they're a great way to demonstrate your interest in the subject and commitment to your career, and to provide evidence of continuing professional development.

Once you are signed in, you can manage your digital badges online from My OpenLearn. In addition, you can download and print your OpenLearn statement of participation – which also displays your Open University badge.

The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our start-of-course survey. Once you complete the course we would also value your feedback and suggestions for future improvement, in our end-of-course survey. Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.
Describing language

Earn this free Open University digital badge if you complete this course! The badge can be displayed, shared and downloaded as a marker of your achievement. The badge is awarded for completing the course and passing the quizzes.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • identify different types of words including nouns, verbs, adjectives, conjunctions and prepositions
  • understand how words pattern together in regular structures
  • recognise different types of sentences
  • describe how different structures can convey different meanings.

First Published: 13/04/2022

Updated: 13/04/2022

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Course content

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