Many people believe that grammar matters hugely. For some, grammar matters principally because it is important to adhere to standards of accurate, clear and correct usage. Some people believe that the presence or absence of grammatical errors says a lot about the writer (for example, errors can signal ‘laziness’) and can provoke strong reactions. Another reason for considering grammar to be an important area of study is that, combined with vocabulary choice, it is our main way of making meaning. Linguists have studied the relationship between word and grammar choices on one hand and meaning or function on the other. This free course, Grammar matters, introduces you to one particular way of understanding how meanings relate systematically to different aspects of grammar – the functional approach of Michael Halliday and others, known as Systemic Functional Linguistics or SFL – and shows how this deeper understanding can be applied to make everyday communication more effective.
Halliday’s functional approach to the study of grammar is useful because it can enable us to better understand how written texts and spoken language work and how they relate to the context in which they are generated. In turn, this can enable us to develop our use of grammar to say what we mean more successfully, and so to make our speech, writing and other communication more effective. So, in this course you will see how studying grammar as a tool for meaning-making has numerous useful applications in the real world of professional practice and everyday communication.
This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course.
Brief definitions of words in bold can be found in the Glossary at the end of this course.