© 2013 Steve Campsall
Englishbiz Grammar Essentials
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to textual analysis
Well, maybe this guy's a touch mad - but don't worry because he's not real! Learning grammar is never going to be cool, but Englishbiz will do its darnedest to make it easier, interesting and useful for your course.
Remember that if you can learn to spot the effects created by even a few of the key grammatical choices of the writer or speaker of your texts, you'll be ahead of many students sitting the exam. This is because grammar is the least well understood 'framework', and the one most often ignored. This is despite the fact that, following word choice ('lexical choice'), grammar is a fundamental aspect of all written and spoken communication. When we want to 'share' our thoughts, we need just two things: words and sentences, that is, lexis and grammar.
The key to gaining high marks is never merely to label grammatical aspects of a sentence but to show how the effects of grammatical choices are in some useful way linked to genre, context, audience or purpose.
All of the words and phrases of language exist in one or other of two form - visual form (e.g. writing) or aural form (e.g. speech). The form of individual words need to be strung together into a sequence to create the required meaning. Grammar does two things: it provides the set of rules or conventions we all follow when creating phrases, clauses and sentences; and it provides an analytical 'metalanguage' to be used when we describe these rules and choices (a metalanguage is a system of words used to describe... words!).
We learn the rules of grammar subconsciously when we learn to speak and write. We even seem to be born with some kind of grammatical structures in our mind, a kind of 'deep grammar'.
For the study of how children learn to speak and write (child language acquisition), a knowledge of grammar is vital. This unit is in the A2 year of most English Language A-level courses.
Our knowledge and use of grammar becomes further refined as we develop as sophisticated speakers and writers.
Some of the more complex aspects of grammar (i.e. sentence construction) need to be consciously learned, often at school.
Language users rarely need to consider their use of grammar except in a few very unusual or formal situations when we might be especially sensitive to making an error. Studies show that women more than men tend to 'hypercorrect' their grammar, over-extending rules and actually using non-standard grammar accidentally. An example is the often heard, "Our thanks to you all from my brother and I on this splendid occasion". Do you know what the grammar should be? ("Our thanks to you all from my brother and me on this splendid occasion").
As a student of language, when you analyse and discuss key points of grammar in a text's sentences, as with all other analytical techniques, your aim is to make worthwhile comments, not run of the mill boring comments! This means considering how the grammar has been chosen in the light of the four basic linguistic aspects: genre, context, audience and purpose.
Pages Updated 07.09.12