EXPERT: Dr. Nancy Hennessy
Syntax and sentence comprehension are critical yet often forgotten contributors to comprehension. The science tells us that the ability to understand sentence structure, or syntax, is critical to students’ comprehension of written text. The skilled reader has to understand not only the meanings of the words but also the ideas conveyed within and between sentences while integrating background knowledge to infer what is implied in the text. While individual words contribute to the meaning of the ideas, syntax provides the structure for ordering and organizing these idea units within the sentence. It supports the reader’s understanding of who or what did what to whom, when, where, and how within the sentence. An understanding of how the structure of sentences conveys meaning is particularly important as texts increase in complexity through the grades.
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