What Is the Difference Between Syntactic Knowledge and Semantic Knowledge?

Syntactic knowledge involves the way that words are assembled and sentences are constructed in a particular language, while semantic knowledge involves the meaning found from the actual text, symbols and signs themselves. Syntactic knowledge varies among languages because there are different syntactic rules on how to use words to create sentences in different languages.

Teachers begin teaching sentence structure early by reading to children, and by modeling the construction of sentences when they speak. It is important that teachers use correct sentence structure in the classroom as early as preschool and kindergarten so that children can start creating their own sentences that follow correct sentence structure. When teachers model sentence structure, it also helps children learn how to read as they become familiar with the way words are used in their language.

As students age, they begin to learn what is called “pragmatics,” which is the study of the way that people choose what they want to write or speak based on a multitude of options. This looks at context and connotation, as well as individual style. Teachers can also show students that using context clues can lead to an understanding of a particular word that the student may not have understood before.