Difference Between Syntax and Semantics (With Table)

In linguistics, syntax and semantics are two highly significant branches. The study of language is known as linguistics. Syntax is the study of phrase form, whereas semantics is the study of language meaning. As a result, the primary distinction between syntax and semantics is that syntax deals with structure while semantics deals with meaning.

Syntax vs Semantics

The difference between Syntax and Semantics is that syntax is a branch of linguistics concerned with the study of how words are joined to make grammatical sentences. Semantics is concerned with the study of words without regard for their meanings.

The syntax is derived from Greek terms that signify “together” or “arrangement,” as well as “ordered.” Syntax is the study of sentence creation, describing how words combine to produce larger units than words, such as phrases or sentences. These phrases or sentences are just strings with a correct structure.

Semantics is the study of word and sentence meaning; at its most basic level, it is concerned with the relationship of linguistic forms to non-linguistic concepts and mental representations to explain how sentences are understood by language users.

Comparison Table Between Syntax and Semantics

Parameters of ComparisonSyntaxSemantics
OriginThe syntax is a phrase originating from Ancient Greek, where syn refers to a group of people and taxis refers to an order.Semantics is derived from the Greek word seme, which means sigh.
DefinitionSyntax is a branch of linguistics concerned with the study of how words are joined to make grammatical sentences.Linguistic is an alternative major branch of theoretical linguistics. It’s all about figuring out what language terms signify.
RuleIn sentences, it describes the proper word order and inflectional structure.It explains the connection between symbols and the things they represent or allude to.
Main AspectIt shows the order of the word used in a sentence.It shows the relation between the form and the meaning of the word or phrase.
ApproachIts approach towards the meaning of a sentence is based on correction both grammatically and linguistically.Its approach towards the meaning of a sentence is based on an individual’s interpretation based on prior information.

What is Syntax?

The rules of grammar in sentence structure the way words are ordered to make sentences are referred to as syntax. Subject-verb agreement, accurate word choice, and putting phrases or words in the correct order are all signs of good syntax.

In linguistic communication, a shared language makes it simple for people to express themselves and understand one another, and syntax provides a handbook so that everyone can communicate effectively and quickly using the same grammatical rules. 

The syntax may appear to be a theoretical phrase, but when applied to language, its relevance and meaning become evident.

Subject-verb agreement: Sentences are frequently constructed with a subject, verb, and direct object. “She chucked the ball,” for example. The subject of this sentence is “she,” the verb is “tossed,” and the direct object is “the ball,” according to the syntactic analysis.

The meaning of this sentence is apparent, and it fits within a natural language shared by English speakers.

Independent and dependent clauses: Independent and dependent clauses are used together in syntax. A stand-alone clause, such as “She tossed the ball,” is known as an independent clause.

A dependent clause is a part of a phrase that may provide additional context or support for the independent clause. To make a plain statement more interesting, add a dependent clause: “After several weeks of building up her strength, she hurled the ball from left field to home plate.”

Everything in that sentence up to the comma is a dependent clause that modifies the independent clause.

What is Semantics?

The meaning of a statement is referred to as semantics. The meaning of a sentence would be entirely different without appropriate semantics—and a careful, grammatically accurate sequencing of words.

Linguists divide semantics into several categories, including lexical semantics, which is the study of word meanings and relationships, and conceptual semantics, which is the study of how people who share a language understand and learn semantics.

Consider the statements “She tossed the ball” and “She was tossed by the ball.” The first sentence’s subject is actively tossing a ball, but the second sentence’s subject is being tossed by a ball.

Even though the latter is grammatically correct, it makes less sense and does not seem believable.

Deixis: Deixis, or frequent terms that provide context to a place, time, or person, can also be used in semantics.

Deixis can help with semantics or the meaning of a sentence, and words like “yesterday,” “he,” and “here” are examples.

“He’s coming to dinner,” for example, conveys urgency, whereas “He’s coming to dinner tomorrow”—the indexical word being tomorrow—implies that the person or people preparing the meal have more time.

Main Differences Between Syntax and Semantics

  1. Syntax describes the correct order of words, whereas semantics helps describe the relationships between the symbols and things.
  2. Syntax refers to magical correctness, semantics refers to provide the correct meaning of the sentence.
  3. Syntax studies the structure of the sentence, whereas semantics studies the definition and ideology behind it.
  4. The syntax works with the effort of making the sentence linguistically, whereas semantics are generally used by the idea of using already know knowledge about the content.
  5. A syntactically correct sentence is not necessarily a meaningful sentence, whereas a meaningful sentence has to be syntactically correct.

Conclusion

To comprehend the sentence’s structure, one must be familiar with phrases, modifiers, noun phrases, and so on. Syntax tresses aid with the comprehension of sentence patterns.

As a result, semantics and syntax concentrate on two distinct aspects of linguistics. The syntax is concerned with the production of sentences, whereas semantics is concerned with the meanings of words and phrases. In the instance of semantics, a statement with improperly arranged words can be interpreted by a small number of persons based on their past knowledge. In terms of syntax, however, the same sentence has no significance because syntax exclusively deals with linguistically and grammatically correct sentences.

References

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00351935.
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0024384181900140

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