Wednesday, December 9, 2009

what is grammar in english?

What various opinions writers on English grammar have given in answer
to the question, _What is grammar?_ may be shown by the following--

Definitions of grammar.

English grammar is a description of the usages of the English
language by good speakers and writers of the present

A description of account of the nature, build, constitution, or
make of a language is called its grammar--MEIKLEJOHN

Grammar teaches the laws of language, and the right method of
using it in speaking and writing.--PATTERSON

Grammar is the science of _letter_; hence the science of using
words correctly.--ABBOTT

The English word _grammar_ relates only to the laws which govern
the significant forms of words, and the construction of the

These are sufficient to suggest several distinct notions about English

(1) It makes rules to tell us how to use words.

(2) It is a record of usage which we ought to follow.

(3) It is concerned with the _forms_ of the language.

(4) English _has_ no grammar in the sense of forms, or inflections,
but takes account merely of the nature and the uses of words in

Fierce discussions have raged over these opinions, and numerous works
have been written to uphold the theories. The first of them remained
popular for a very long time. It originated from the etymology of the
word _grammar_ (Greek _gramma_, writing, a letter), and from an effort
to build up a treatise on English grammar by using classical grammar
as a model.

Perhaps a combination of (1) and (3) has been still more popular,
though there has been vastly more classification than there are forms.

During recent years, (2) and (4) have been gaining ground, but they
have had hard work to displace the older and more popular theories. It
is insisted by many that the student's time should be used in studying
general literature, and thus learning the fluent and correct use of
his mother tongue. It is also insisted that the study and discussion
of forms and inflections is an inexcusable imitation of classical

Which view shall the student of English accept? Before this is
answered, we should decide whether some one of the above theories must
be taken as the right one, and the rest disregarded.

The real reason for the diversity of views is a confusion of two
distinct things,--what the _definition_ of grammar should be, and what
the _purpose_ of grammar should be.

The province of English grammar is, rightly considered, wider than is
indicated by any one of the above definitions; and the student ought
to have a clear idea of the ground to be covered.

It must be admitted that the language has very few inflections at
present, as compared with Latin or Greek; so that a small grammar will
hold them all.

It is also evident, to those who have studied the language
historically, that it is very hazardous to make rules in grammar: what
is at present regarded as correct may not be so twenty years from now,
even if our rules are founded on the keenest scrutiny of the
"standard" writers of our time. Usage is varied as our way of thinking
changes. In Chaucer's time two or three negatives were used to
strengthen a negation; as, "Ther _nas no_ man _nowher_ so vertuous"
(There never was no man nowhere so virtuous). And Shakespeare used
good English when he said _more elder_ ("Merchant of Venice") and
_most unkindest_ ("Julius Caesar"); but this is bad English now.

If, however, we have tabulated the inflections of the language, and
stated what syntax is the most used in certain troublesome places,
there is still much for the grammarian to do.

Adjective words
Adjective word list 2
Adjective sentences
Adjective sentences list 2

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