Grammar, understanding, and communication
Languages are a means of
interaction between people, known as verbal communication. They are
essentially the synthesis of two things: words and grammar.
Speaking or writing a language is like driving.
The words are the cars and other vehicles that we use to
express our ideas and thoughts. Grammar is the road network, the
highways, the signposts and the GPS satnav systems without which
driving would be chaos.
In most countries (not all!) people who drive cars know that they can
do so in relative safety; that they can go from point A to point B
without getting lost, without hitting other cars or getting stuck in a
one-way-street. Chaos is avoided, because people have learned
how to drive their vehicles, they know the roads they are using, they
understand road signs and the map or satellite navigation system they
use, they know the "rules of the road", and finally because someone
else (the state, the local authorities) has built the road
system, equipped it with signs and markers, and maintains it.
This has not happened spontaneously; chaos is avoided because
the planners have built and equipped the roads that people
want or need, and drivers have all learned common rules and have
learned to understand the principles of driving.
a language is like
learning to be a good driver. If one wants to communicate effectively
in a language - one's own native language or a foreign language - it is
essential to understand the rules.
As children we learn our native language without
actually learning many rules. We acquire
the language by "immersion" and by copying the way that other people
around us use words; the result is that we "understand" the rules of
grammar even if we have not actually learned them. But that is a very
slow process. Children take several years to become proficient in their
own language... even though they are using that language all the time!
Learning a foreign language
is very different, specially if we are doing so at school or in a
language class. ELL's (English language learners) do not have the time
to just "acquire" the rules and principles of grammar, simply by
listening to all the other people around them. To learn
English as a foreign language or second language, the learner just has
to learn the basic rules of grammar –
just learn them. Learning is one thing; understanding
the rules of grammar is far more valuable.
grammar means knowing
how to use it in new situations, knowing how to express our ideas
without having to think "Am I saying / writing this correctly?" , and
it means being able to understand what other people are saying or
writing. It also means being able to write Engish with
confidence, which in turn means writing English fluently and without
having to use a grammar-checker to make sure that everything you have
written is well written. Grammar-checkers are very useful in some
places, but they sometimes get things wrong, correct grammar that was
not wrong in the first place, and also make the writing process much
slower. Besides, you can't use a grammar-checker when you're talking,
nor if you're writing something on paper.... which is not as unusual as
some people would imagine it to be!
Grammar is much easier to learn if you understand
which is why the Linguapress English grammar pays great attention to
explaining things clearly and illustrating English grammar rules with
plenty of examples. These pages are designed for
students in the higher grades of secondary education or high school,
and in universities and other forms of higher education. Though
originally an EFL / ESOL resource aimed at non-native speakers of
English, this is also an invaluable resource for English-speaking
students wishing to comprehend the grammar and syntax of their own
Compared to many other languages,
English is a language whose grammar is relatively easy –
certainly one of the reasons why it has been able to become established
as a world language. English is a language in which it is fairly easy
to communicate, even without understanding much of its grammar; much of
the basic grammar of English is intuitive, making it easy to express
basic ideas without ever having consciously learned any rules.
But using a language properly is more
than just knowing how to communicate: it is knowing how to communicate
with precision, without ambiguity, and in a form that others can
understand. Most native English speakers do this fairly easily, without
having ever learned the rules. But even for native speakers,
communication is easier and more effective once a person has an
understanding of the way English grammar works.
The Linguapress English grammar seeks to
explain these rules and principles as clearly and as coherently as