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Everyday English 1
Everyday English 1

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3.1 Structure

Structure is the way something is put together.

When someone talks about the structure of a house, they mean the way it is built. The foundations come first. They anchor the whole house into the ground, so they have to be firm and strong. The floor and walls are built next. Then the roof and chimney are added at the end.

Texts are built the other way round – from the top.

They begin with a title, which is the name of the text. The title usually tells you what it is about.

For example, look at the cover of this book, called Smart Money.

A book cover.
Figure 12 A book cover

This book also has a sub-title, which tells you more about the title. The sub-title is ‘Shortcuts to becoming rich’.

The book also shows the name of the author, the person who wrote the text:

  • George Taylor.

Sometimes the author is more than one person. It could even be an organisation, like the author of a report called:

  • Pollution in the West Midlands by the West Midlands Health Authority.

The contents page of the text tells you about what it contains. If the text is a book, it may have chapter numbers and page numbers:

Smart Money: shortcuts to becoming rich
Chapter 1You can get rich quicklypage 6
Chapter 2Choose a way to make your fortunepage 25
Chapter 3Wise investment strategiespage 37

Each chapter may be divided into sections. The sections in Chapter 1 of Smart Money: shortcuts to becoming rich are:

  • Decide what you do best
  • You may have top-executive skills
  • Learn how to earn money quickly
  • Take positive action today.

Activity 20 Finding out a book’s structure

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Find a non-fiction book and find the following information about it:

  • Title

  • Sub-title (if there is one)

  • Author

  • Chapters (if they are not named, how many are there?)

  • Are the chapters divided into sections?

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You can find out a lot about a book from its cover and even more, quite quickly, without even having to read any of the main text. If you know where to look, it takes very little time to find key information that allows you to decide if you need or want to read the book.