Why learn grammar?


In any language, good grammar promotes clarity of expression. For instance, without punctuation the same words can have various meanings. Incorrect spelling or the use of the wrong word can also cloud meaning.


Putting thoughts into words and arranging them into logical and/or literary passages helps to refine your ideas. Details, nuances, shades of meaning and even qualifications of opinion are all enhanced by an awareness of grammar.


This awareness also makes you look smart, perhaps even smarter than you might otherwise look. At the very least the absence of good grammar indicates a gap in your education. Correct grammar contributes to the impression that your writing has been refined, well edited and well reflected upon. It looks as if you have made an effort.


What do we really mean by grammar?


Grammar appeals to people who are looking for certainty. In English at least, delving into grammar can be a welcome refuge from the vagaries of English spelling. Any consistencies or “rules” in English spelling can rightly take their place in a treatment of grammar.


Ordinarily we think of grammar as relating to the rules or regularities of language use, but it is not confined to this. It may also include usage and the language appropriate for different levels of formality or distinct genres of writing.


A look at the links page gives you a fuller picture.


At a secondary or tertiary level, literary devices such as similes and metaphors, or words indicating linked thoughts (similarly, meanwhile) or changes in rhetorical direction (nevertheless, alternatively) find their way to sit at the grammar table. Some grammar books include cliches to be avoided and idioms which have the (grammar book author’s) seal of approval.


“Personally I think that grammar is a way to attain beauty. When you speak, or read, or write, you can tell if you’ve said or written a fine sentence. You can recognise a well turned phrase or an elegant style. But when you are applying the rules of grammar skilfully, you ascend to another level of the beauty of language. When you use grammar you peel back the layers, to see how it is all put together, see it quite naked, in a way.”

“The Elegance of the Hedgehog”, by the French author, Muriel Barbery, Gallic Books 2008