Why It Matters: Grammar

Why learn to critique patterns of academic grammar and punctuation usage?

There are several different types of English. While there are some obvious examples of different varieties (e.g., American and British English), there are other differing types, such as formal vs. informal English or verbal vs. written English. There are also different varieties of English that are unique to cultural, societal, or professional groups.

While all of these types of English are equally dynamic and complex, each variety is appropriate in different situations. When you’re talking to your friends, you might use slang and cultural references—if you speak in formal language, you can easily come off as stiff. If you’re sending a quick casual message—via social media or texting—don’t worry too much about capitalization or strict punctuation. Feel free to have five exclamation points standing alone, if that gets your point across.

icon of a toolboxHowever, there’s this thing called Standard American English. This English is used in professional and academic settings, so that people can communicate with and understand one another. How many times have you heard people of older generations ask what smh or rn mean? While this online jargon is great for quick communication, it isn’t formal: it isn’t a part of the commonly accepted conventions that make up Standard American English.

Grammar is a set of rules and conventions that dictate how Standard American English works. These rules are simply tools that speakers of a language can use. When you learn how to use the language, you can craft your message to communicate exactly what you want to convey.

Learning Outcomes

  • Critique the use of nouns and pronouns
  • Critique the use of verbs
  • Critique the use other parts of speech, including adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, and articles
  • Critique the use of common punctuation marks
  • Critique sentence structure and variety of sentences
  • Critique the use of both active and passive voices