Putting It Together: Grammar

a snippet of a dictionary, showing the word grammar; the full definition cannot be seenWe’ve covered a lot of rules and conventions in this section: how to use different parts of speech and different punctuation marks and how to use them together to create sentences. As with any set of rules, you shouldn’t expect yourself to immediately remember them all. Your goal shouldn’t be to memorize all the rules but to be familiar enough with grammar that you can tell when something is wrong. You can refer back to the pages in this module as often as you need as you progress through your college career. They’ll be here to help you when you need them.

And we all need help with these patterns from time to time. One example of this comes from William Bradshaw, author of a writing handbook:

Soon after my grammar book was released, I learned that a nearby school district purchased more than three hundred copies of my book. I went to the main office of the district to express my gratitude for the district’s interest in my book. I was referred to the staff person responsible for high school curriculum development.

I had assumed the books were for the students, but learned that, instead, they were for faculty and non-teaching staff members. The curriculum development officer said her research led her to conclude that the typical high school student in the district was lacking in an adequate knowledge of correct grammar. After meeting with high school teachers for the purpose of developing enhancement classes that high school students could take to help them in understanding and using correct English, she concluded that faculty and staff members also needed a refresher course in English. It was for that purpose she ordered copies of my book: The Big Ten of Grammar: Identifying and Fixing the Ten Most Frequent Grammatical Errors.[1]

As this example shows, even teachers make grammatical mistakes, and we all need to brush up on our skills from time to time.