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Is grammar important?

Some people think that correct English grammar matters only to teachers and is of no real importance in daily life. This is certainly not true. Grammar, regardless of the country or the language, is the foundation for communication. When a message is relayed with the correct grammar, it is easier to understand the purpose and meaning of that message. In order to communicate, a learner should know the grammar of the language. It is important to be able to express yourself, but this should be done in a way that people find easy to understand.

Writing that is poorly punctuated and contains grammatical errors is difficult to read and sometimes impossible to understand. If the reader has to go back and re-read a sentence several times because they are not quite sure what it means, it spoils their reading experience and they are quite likely to misunderstand the point or even give up and not read any further.

In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules which influences the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given language. It is the systematic study and description of a language, and it helps us to understand how words and their component parts combine to form sentences.

Reasons why you should apply the correct grammar when you speak and write

  • Grammar rules can help learners develop the habit of thinking logically and clearly. After studying grammar, learners are able to become more accurate when using a language.
  • Without good grammar, clear communication is impossible. Proper grammar keeps you from being misunderstood while expressing your thoughts and ideas.
  • Grammar improves the development of fluency. When a person has learned grammar, it will be easier for that person to know how to organise and express the ideas in their mind without difficulty. As a result, they will be able to speak, read and write the language more fluently.
  • Many employers are immediately put off when they receive a cover letter for a job application that contains grammatical errors and is poorly written. Many employers will simply ignore this application and even delete it. It is therefore important to bear this in mind when applying for a job.
  • When writing on behalf of your organisation, it is important to use the correct grammar, as this can mean the difference between readers trusting your expertise or questioning your knowledge of the subject matter. If you can’t write properly, you can’t relay your subject matter with authority.
  • A person with poor grammar skill can form a negative impression on others. First impressions can be lasting, and may hide the true judgment of character. Some people consider good grammar to be a mark of intelligence and education. Don’t allow strangers to form a negative impression of you based on your poor communication skills.
  • Writing and speaking correctly gives you the appearance of credibility. If you’re attempting to build a reputation as an expert in your profession, correct use of grammar is extremely important.

With the development of social networks and technology, people have become increasingly more lazy to use grammar in their everyday communications. When texting, using Facebook, MySpace or Twitter, they tend to use sentences that are as simple as possible. Grammar is unnecessary in these mediums and fragments of sentences are quite acceptable. Unfortunately, it is easy to get into a bad habit based on this.

There is no shortcut to learning English grammar. A computer can’t fully grasp the complexities of the English language. In some cases, a computer grammar check can sometimes suggest the incorrect alternatives when attempting to fix common errors.

Different ways to improve your grammar

Read more in English

One way to improve your grammar is to read more in English. The more you read, the more you improve your grammar and vocabulary. It may be tiring and difficult to understand everything, but this is one step you cannot skip if you want to get better at grammar. Reading helps you to see how English works and how the grammar works. That knowledge can transfer to your writing. Find something you like to read, and then keep on reading. It doesn’t matter what you read – books, magazine articles, or newspapers – as long as they are written in proper English. Try to read as many different genres (e.g. newspaper articles, academic journals, blogs, short-stories, etc.) as you can.

Listen more to English

Listening to others who use good English and watching television also helps. It works better if you watch what you are really interested in. Remember that the English spoken in America is different from that spoken in England. Some parts of spelling and grammar are different between the two countries. In South Africa, we follow the British grammar and spelling rules.

Practise more

Make sure you work through all your grammar exercises in your course book regularly. To learn English grammar well, you will need to practise each grammar point until you can easily use it. Look for a book of grammar exercises that also has answers for additional practice. Online activities and quizzes can also help. Focus on one grammar point each time you study.

Write more in English

Try writing a daily journal in English. Any extra practice that you can get is going to help you.

Remember, try not to get discouraged. Learning English grammar and using it correctly takes a lot of time, effort, and practice. Be positive and proactive about practising your grammar and you’ll begin seeing more improvement.