English grammar in context
English grammar in context

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

1 Why study grammar?

1.1 The power of grammar

I wonder if you understand what Mrs Clark meant, or whether any teacher has ever made a similar remark about your work? In this course we look at some of the factors that contribute to differences between speech and writing and at ways of describing them. However, we shall try to avoid just helping you to get descriptive labels right, though that is important. We want you to discover that grammar is not a boring system for labelling parts of a sentence, but rather that it can give you an insight into how we present ourselves and our view of the world to other people. Our choices within the grammatical system together with our choices of vocabulary are our most powerful ways of putting together the meanings that we want to communicate. An advanced, sophisticated method of communication is what makes human beings so special, so a study of grammar is a way of exploring how these meanings get made.

The key terms we are looking at in this course are listed below. We have highlighted them in bold throughout the text as they are introduced.

Key terminology
descriptive, prescriptive and pedagogic grammarsquestion tag
dialoguesociocultural context
dysfluencystructural grammar
ellipsistail [tag]
functional grammartext
head [preface]traditional grammar
lexisword class [part of speech, grammatical class]
Near equivalents are given in [ ].

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371