The "Rules of the Road" for Language

Grammar Shifts with Context

Many people claim to hate grammar.  They believe they don't understand it.  In reality, the fact that you communicate means that you both understand and use grammar correctly on a daily basis — but not necessarily the same grammar that teachers expect you to use in the classroom.

The reason we "hate" grammar — the reason it's so "confusing" — is that it changes depending upon the audience, the situation, and the form of communication.  Grammar has very specific rules for what is "correct" and "incorrect" and "incoherent" — but those rules continually change depending on your audience.

Key Terms to Remember

Grammar is the structure of language: the ways that words are used to convey accepted meaning.  Basically, it's the "rules" of a language — when you everyone follows the same rules, we all understand each other.  Grammar as a concept is extremely broad — most of the "rules" are considered a natural part of the language that native speakers grow up learning automatically.

Syntax is the part of grammar focused on the arrangement of words and punctuation.  Usually, when native speakers of English talk about "hating" grammar, what we really mean is that we hate the study of syntax.  For the purposes of this website, Syntax and Punctuation are divided into two sections.

Punctuation refers to all the non-verbal markers in written language such as commas, periods, and quotation marks.