People did not invent English grammar; they described it. Grammar is a description of logic. It is a description of a logical thinking process. Human beings first uttered distinctive sounds to convey thoughts. Later, people made graphical representations of those sounds, a written language. Finally, people analyzed the language to determine the patterns and variations. That final step is grammar, an analysis of the way a language functions.

We write documents to communicate thoughts to other people. A well written document is a medium that facilitates transfer of the author's thoughts to a reader. A poorly written document may fail to facilitate accurate transfer of the author's thoughts.

English grammar provides guidelines for choosing words, arrangement of words, and punctuation of sentences. We do most of our thinking with word symbols. If we cannot arrange word symbols correctly, we probably cannot think clearly and probably cannot communicate effectively. Consider the following analogy.

2 = 3 + 5

If you were to submit this equation to your mathematics teacher, you would be deemed innumerate. Correct symbol manipulation is an essential aspect of mathematics. Correct manipulation of word symbols is required for fluent English language communication. English language communication is effective if the reader or listener understands the message the writer or speaker intends to convey.

The English language is not as precise as is mathematics. Lawyers devote effort to composing language that can have only one interpretation. Other lawyers labor to discover different interpretations. Courts decide whose interpretation of the legal language is appropriate.

Commercial entities sometimes use language to deliberately obscure a message. Such language may be found in contracts or in terms or conditions of sale or service. Advertisers use language to elicit emotion.

The English language changes continuously. Try reading Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. The Canterbury Tales were written prior to 1400 AD. Consider this sentence from a grammar textbook published in 1914. "But the verb that we use oftenest does not express action...." According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition, the comparative ending, er, and the superlative ending, est, may be applied to the word often. Contemporary writers and speakers would probably phrase the quoted sentence differently.

Effective English communication is composed for a specific audience. Language that would be appropriate for a journal acticle devoted to medical science would be inappropriate if the writer were extolling the virtues of off-road tires.

During WW 11 the United States inducted some sixteen million people into military service. The inductees had varied background experience. Most had no prior military experience. They had to be quickly taught many subjects. Writers and instructors adopted the guideline: K.I.S.S. That is an abbreviation for "Keep it simple, stupid." That vernacular expression constitutes excellent guidance for effective English communication.

A good dictionary is indispensable to a person who communicates effectively.

The wife of the author of this text held degrees in English Literature and in philosophy from a prestigious university. Both degrees were granted cum laude. Her academic papers display fluent and flawless English. She did not consciously think about English grammar. How could she write fluently if she ignored English grammar?

Some research has been conducted indicating that a child who, during the first six years of life, frequently hears parents sing on-key will probably also be able to sing on-key. The evidence indicates that the phenomenon is not entirely genetic, but rather is a result of exposure to the on-key sounds at an early age. That assumption seems plausible. A child who grows up in a home where English is spoken learns the sounds of the English language. A child who grows up in a home where Mandarin Chinese is spoken learns the sounds of the Chinese language. A child who grows up in a home where the English language is spoken fluently and correctly may find it very easy to express the language without learning much of the grammar for the same reason some people can sing on-key.

Consider these facts. English is a world wide phenomenon. Most of the people learning English at the outset of the twenty-first century did not grow up in a home where English was a native language. A substantial number of people living in the United States did not grow up in a home where English was a native language. Also, a substantial number of us grew up in homes where English was the native language, but it was spoken in a non-standard manner. Many of us are approaching English as a second language or almost as if it were a second language. Consequently, we study English grammar to understand the way the language works.

English is a very flexible language, continuously changing. However, English requires some standard practices. Standardization facilitates effective communication, especially written communication. If we fail to utilize universally understood standards, we risk splintering our language into dialects.

Automobile engines have a component called a spark plug. The device is a plug that threads into a hole in the engine. The device makes a spark that ignites the fuel. Spark plug seems to be an appropriate name for the device.

English grammar is burdened with archaic terminology that does not inform, e.g., participle, gerund, and tense. It is astonishing that a description of the way we speak and write is a "turn-off" to so many of us. The unfamiliar terminology is part of the problem.

Accelerating development of technology puts emphasis on acquisition of technical skills for successful employment. Educational costs have become exorbitant. We are reluctant to pay for education that does not bring substantial financial reward. However, reading, writing, and speaking are a part of the foundation of our civilization. The best interests of humanity are served by fluent communication.

This text will examine some basic concepts, functional parts of the language, punctuation, conventions, spelling, usage, and common usage errors.

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