Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Recitations: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session

Course Overview

In this class, we will discuss the main questions and some of the discoveries of the field of syntax. We will explore the hierarchical organization of language and look at a number of syntactic phenomena that are common in completely unrelated languages and try to understand them. We will also look at differences among languages and try to understand what some possible ways are in which languages can differ.

This class has its precursors in courses taught by David Pesetsky, Omer Preminger and Norvin Richards. Inherited organizational as well as presentational properties are gratefully acknowledged.


24.900 Introduction to Linguistics


Readings: There is no textbook for this class. The required reading consists of slides, which will be made available after every lecture. The expectation is that you will study all the slides from one lecture to the next and bring any questions you have to class.

Recitation: There is an optional but strongly recommended weekly recitation section for the class, which will be run by the TA.

Paper requirement: You will write a short paper (5–10 pages) on a topic of your choice. You are encouraged to find your own topic but we will help you formulate the question(s) and meet with you at least two times to help you complete it.

Problem sets: There will be eight problem sets. If you submit all your problem sets, your lowest problem set grade will be dropped.

Final exam: There is a three-hour closed-book final exam, which will cover material from the entire course.


Problem sets 65%
Paper 15%
Final Exam 15%
Attendance / Participation 5%