Carnie, Andrew (2021a) Syntax: A Generative Introduction. 4E. Wiley-Blackwell


The extensively updated fourth edition of the leading introductory textbook on theoretical syntax, including an all-new chapter and additional problem sets

Now in its fourth edition, Andrew Carnie's Syntax: A Generative Introduction remains the leading introduction to the rules, principles, and processes that determine the structure of sentences in language. Comprehensive yet accessible, the text provides a well-balanced, student-friendly introduction to syntactic theory. Topics include phrase structure, the lexicon, binding theory, case theory, movement, covert movement, locality conditions, ditransitives, verbal inflection and auxiliaries, ellipsis, control theory, non-configurational languages, and more. Students are provided with numerous exercises and pedagogical features designed to strengthen comprehension, review learning objectives, test knowledge, and highlight major issues in the field.

The fourth edition features revised material throughout, including a new section on Chomsky's Merge and additional problem sets in every chapter, while new examples throughout the text broaden the appeal and relatability of the text to a more diverse set of students. The optional The Syntax Workbook: A Companion to Carnie's Syntax has also been thoroughly revised and expanded to offer students the opportunity to practice the skills and concepts introduced in the primary text. This classic textbook:

  • Presents authoritative and comprehensive coverage of basic, intermediate, and advanced topics

  • Includes ample exercises and clear explanations using straightforward language

  • Offers extensive online student and instructor resources, including problem sets, PowerPoint slides, an updated instructor's manual, author-created videos, online-only chapters, and other supplementary material

  • Features a wealth of learning tools, including learning objectives, discussion questions, and problems of varying levels of difficulty


In the new fourth edition, Syntax: A Generative Introduction remains an essential textbook for beginning syntacticians, perfect for undergraduate and graduate course in linguistics, grammar, language, and second language teaching.


ISBN: 978-1-119-56931-2

Related Volumes

Previous Editions



From the back cover of the various editions:
  • “Deeply informed, lucid and careful, this revision of the outstanding original carries the student from core concepts to topics at the borders of inquiry. A most valuable contribution.” – Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor (retired), Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy, MIT (3rd Edition.)

  • “This truly excellent textbook competently guides students to understand not just the basics of generative syntax but also richness of universals and parametric variation in a clear and thought-provoking way.” – Ken Hiraiwa, Department of English, Meiji Gakuin University (3rd Edition)

  • "This book is a perfect example of how sophisticated syntactc concepts can be presetned in a genuinely reader-friendly way. The syntax student is led carefully through argumentaiton to current syntactic theory and at the end has a clear understanding not only of the whats of syntax but also the whys." Professor Lisa deMena Travis, McGill University. (1st edition)

  • “Andrew Carnie's Syntax quickly became the standard textbook in generative syntax because it was neither overly technical nor artificially simple. The second edition is substantially better and more complete. The original discussion is expanded and there are a number of new chapters on advanced topics like raising and control, and the book continues to include chapters that introduce alternative theories like LFG and HPSG. To my mind, this is by far the best choice on the market today.” Peter Cole, University of Delaware (2nd edition)

Published Reviews of this Edition:

Published Reviews of the First Edition:

Published Reviews of the Second Edition:

YouTube Videos

I have created a complete set of lectures on Youtube to complement this edition. You can access them here 

Instructor's Materials

  • If you are the verified instructor of a class you may contact me to request instructor's materials (Slides, Instructor's Manual, Handouts)

  • You may only use these materials if you are an instructor of a class using the book as a required or recommended text and have a verifiable order for 5 or more books with Wiley -Blackwell or a bookstore.

  • IMPORTANT: I will NOT give the materials to students or people doing self study, sorry! This is because many instructors use the problem sets in the text for assessment purposes. If you need practice with answers, please purchase the workbook instead. The workbook contains equivalent problem sets to those in the textbook and contains answers for those equivalent problem sets.

Web-Only Chapters

The following chapters were part of the first and second editions. Due to length considerations, they are now only available as web-only downloadable chapters in the third and fourth editions


Ordering Information:


Table of Contents

  • Table of Contents & Front Matter & Acknowledgments

  • Part 1: Preliminaries

    • Chapter 1 Generative Grammar

    • Chapter 2 Parts of Speech

    • Chapter 3 Constituency, Trees and Rules

    • Chapter 4 Structural relations

    • Chapter 5 Binding theory

  • Part 2: The Base

    • Chapter 6 X-bar theory

    • Chapter 7 Extending X-bar Theory to Functional Categories

    • Chapter 8 Constraining X-Bar: Theta Theory 

    • Chapter 9 Theta Grids and Functional Categories 

  • Part 3: Movement

    • Chapter 10 Head to Head Movement

    • Chapter 11 DP Movement

    • Chapter 12 Wh-Movement and Locality Constraints

    • Chapter 13 A Unified theory of Movement

  • Part 4: Advanced Topics

    • Chapter 14 Ditransitives

    • Chapter 15 Raising, Control and Empty Categories 

    • Chapter 16 Ellipsis 

    • Chapter 17 Advanced topics in Binding

    • Chapter 18 Polysynthesis, Scrambling and Non-configurationality 

    • Chapter 19 Merge

    • Conclusions and Directions for further Study

  • Part 5: Alternatives (available on the web for download only)

  • Conclusions and Directions for Further Study

  • References

  • Index