Basic English Grammar: What It Is and Why It’s Important

The experts at GrammarCamp help explain basic English grammar

What is basic English grammar?

Basic English Grammar: What It Is and Why It's ImportantEnglish grammar is defined as the body of rules that describe the structure of words, phrases, clauses, and sentences in the English language. Whether you have just started learning English or are a native speaker, you need to know the basic rules of the language. Developing a solid foundation in basic English grammar helps you construct sentences correctly and makes it easier to improve both your spoken and written communication skills.

FYI: A simplified history lesson

The Indo-European family of languages dates back to 3,000 BC and consists of nine language groups: Indian, Iranian, Anatolic, Albanian, Celtic, Hellenic, Balto-Slavic, Italic, and Germanic. The Germanic tribes occupied central and western Europe, and the Anglo-Saxons partly descended from the Germanic tribes who migrated from continental Europe and settled in the south and east of Britain beginning in the early 5th century. The term Anglo-Saxon is also used to describe the language that is today more correctly called Old English, which was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons in England (and parts of southeastern Scotland) between the mid-5th and mid-12th centuries. After that time, the language was known as Middle English. Even though the English we use today is a Germanic language, its parent is Indo-European. The first published English grammar rules were contained in the Pamphlet for Grammar, written by William Bullokar in 1586. Over the centuries, basic English grammar rules have evolved continuously.

Why is basic English grammar important?

Language clarifies relationships, regulates interactions, increases an individual’s persuasive power, reveals discrepancies, and manages impressions.

The English language has historical, social, and regional variations (dialects). Standard English can be formal, such as the English used in published works, business meetings, classrooms, school reports, and formal speeches. Standard English can also be informal, such as the English used in our conversations with friends and in casual letters. Another form of English is classified as nonstandard English; it is characterized by faulty word usage, slang, and incorrect grammar. Using nonstandard English can make your writing seem as though it was written by an uneducated person.

Written standard English is shaped by the occasion, audience, purpose, and setting. It includes ordinary language (such as that used in everyday speech and writing), scientific language (which is more precise than ordinary language and is typically used to report technical data and facts), and poetic language (which is descriptive and meant to appeal to a reader’s senses). It is important to note that there are grammatical differences between the standard forms of British English, American English, and Australian English.

As you can see, the diverse forms of the English language, as well as their associated grammar conventions, are quite complex. As you might also expect, your use of basic English grammar will indicate your level of education or professionalism to your audience, be it a prospective employer, a potential partner, or the general public. Your grasp of the basic rules of English grammar could be of major significance to your future—economic or otherwise!

There are many texts and web sites that chronicle the rules of basic English grammar. For a relatable, comprehensive tutorial on how to learn English grammar, have a look at GrammarCamp, an online grammar training course. This course was developed by Scribendi.com, the leading online editing and proofreading company.

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