| This article is part of the grammar course.
You may choose to follow it in a structured way, or read each item separately.
This is the starting point for a structured course in English grammar. The intention is to help students understand the basic terms to discuss language. This will be shown in many brief items of knowledge, which may also be read as individual articles. The course in grammar groups them in certain structured ways. There are three major groups in the course:
- Word classes - nouns, verbs, conjunctions and so on. The traditional name for these is Parts of Speech
- Units of language - sentences, clauses, phrases and so on.
- The Structure of a clause - Subject, Verb and Objects etc.
Traditionally, grammar was often divided into accidence and syntax. Accidence is very important when describing many languages, such as Latin and Greek, which are highly inflected. In English, which has comparatively few inflections, accidence is not so important. So modern descriptions of English grammar concentrate on the syntax - the structure of the sentence. But everyone who wants to understand how language works should know the names of the word classes, so if you do not, it is best to start the course with those.
All students of the subject should be aware that basic understanding and analysis of grammar has two main levels. The first, traditionally known as parsing, involves identifying the types of words and phrases. It is conventionally shown by subscript labels, and uses (round brackets) to demarcate words and phrases. The higher level is sentence analysis, and requires knowledge of both the Units of Language and the structure of the Clause. It is conventionally shown by superscript labels, and its constituents are demarcated by [square brackets].
Remember always that grammar is not an exact science. In order to understand grammar well, the student should use some judgement, and always be aware that there may be few clear rules in English grammar, but there are many exceptions. Our belief is that the study of Grammar is an art, not a science.
For further reading, see the grammar course book list.