What is Grammar?

People believe that to learn language, we need to know about the grammar of the language. So, what is grammar? The explanation is in the following.

Grammar shows how to combine, organize and change words and parts of words to make meaning. To do that, people use rules for this description.

Grammar can be used to describe parts of speech, grammatical structures and how words are formed and created.

How many parts of speech are there? There are nine parts of speech i.e. nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, determiners, prepositions, pronouns, conjunctions and exclamations. A part of speech describes the function a word or phrase has in a sentence. For example:
  • a noun can act as the subject of a verb e.g. The girl eats breakfast quickly.
  • an adverb can combine with an adjective. e.g.well done.
  • a noun can combine with another noun. e.g. a gas stove.
The table below shows the functions of the different parts of speech:


Part of Speech
Examples
Function
Nouns
(e.g. countable, uncountable)
tables
salt
  • to name people, placess, things, qualities, ideas or activities.
  • to act as the subject/object of the verb.
Verbs
(e.g. transitive, intransitive)
eat
walk
  •  to show an action, state or experience
Adjectives
(e.g. comparative)

hotter
  • to describe or give more information about a noun, pronoun or part of a sentence.
Adverbs
(e.g. of degree, manner, time)
completely
quickly
tomorrow
  • to describe or give more information about how, when or where something happens.
  • to add information to adjectives, verbs, other adverbs or sentences.
Determiners
(e.g. possesive, adjectives, articles, demonstrative adjectives, quatifiers.
my
the
this
both
  • to make clear which noun is referred to or to give information about quantity.
Prepositions
(e.g. of time, place, direction)
after
at
towards
  • to connect a noun noun phrase or pronoun to another word or phrase.
Pronouns
(e.g. personal possesive, relative, reflexive)
she
mine
who
myself
  • to replace or refer to a noun or noun phrase just mentioned.
Conjunctions
(e.g. of reason, addition, contrast)
as
and
but
  • to join words, sentences or parts of sentences.
Exlamations
(e.g. of doubt, pain)
Er
Ow
  • to show a (strong) feeling - especially in informal spoken language.

Grammar rules also describe grammatical structures, i.e. the arrangement of words into patterns which have meaning. The rules for grammatical structures use grammatical terms to describe forms and uses. 'Form' refers to the specific grammatical parts that make up the structure and the order they occur in. 'Use' refers to the meaning that the structure is used to express. Loot at these examples:


Term
Form
Use
Past Continuous Tense
subject + past tense of verb to be + -ing form of verb
e.g. he was walking
  • to describe a temporary or bacground situation or action in the past.
Passive voice
subject + to be + past participle (+ by + agent)
e.g. the house was built (by architect)
  • to show what happens to people or things.
Comparative of 'long' adjectives
more + long adjective (+ than)
e.g. Car service is more expensive than motor.
  • generally used with adjectives of two syllables or more to compare separate things or people.

We also use grammar to describe how words are formed. The following are some examples how to create new words using prefixes and suffixes:
  • unhappy = un + happy
  • disappear = dis + appear
  • creation = create + ion
  • friendly = friend + ly

Reference: The TKT Coursebook - Marry Spratt et al

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