Introduction to English Grammar

What is Grammar?

Grammar can be described as the rules which guide the use of a language and how words are combined into sentences. Every language has a set of rules and convention that governs it. The English Language is no exception. However, while the rules of English grammar are fixed, the convention changes which means syntax is context dependent (the kind of grammar you use can change throughout the day, depending on whom you are talking to, what you are trying to say and how you want to say it). A grammarian is someone who can understand the rules of the Language and can use these rules to harness the language.

Is It Necessary to Study Grammar?

The answer is dependent on how serious an individual is about learning the language. It is possible to speak the language without any formal education (for instance, children start to talk without knowing anything about grammar. However, it is useful and can make your learning process faster, especially if it is a foreign language. You should see grammar as your companion that can teach you the language and make you learn on your own. Besides, knowing your grammar rules would help you avoid mistakes.

Components of Grammar

To understand how grammar works, you need to know the functions of the two significant elements of grammar which are syntax and semantics.


Syntax is how words are used in sentences or phrases and the rules that govern this. The following examples show how you can re-arrange a sentence to create different syntax:

Examples of Syntax in a Sentence:

  • I danced merrily.
  • Merrily, I danced.

A different syntax can be formed just by changing the order of the words. Each sentence is acceptable in English and grammatically correct. A writer with an in-depth knowledge of grammar will use different syntax to lay emphasis or make writing more interesting. That is the primary importance of grammar. Words and phrases have to follow the language rules for the proper arrangement and meaningful sentences.


Semantics refers to the study of the meaning of words and phrases (the relationships between words and how people give meaning to them). Certain words which we see as having a specific meaning can change from one context to the other.

Examples:

  • You have a green shirt.
  • The land is green.

The word green shows how a word can change in meaning according to what the speaker is trying to say. Green in the first sentence refers to a shade of colour while in the second sentence it relates to the fertility or prosperity.


The English grammar has eight-word classes, or parts of speech and these distinctions are important in the use of grammar. They are nouns, pronouns, interjections, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions, and conjunctions, with nouns being the most extensive word class.