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The Importance of Grammar in Language Learning

1. Introduction

It is common knowledge that the better you know grammar of a language, the more proficient you are in speaking it. That is why the question of teaching grammar to second language learners is so important. In this essay we will try to answer the question of what grammar is, what are its functions and how it can be taught to students in an effective way.

2. Basic English Grammar

Grammar is a system of rules that describes how words are used in a language. These rules can be divided into two main types: lexical and syntactic. Lexical rules describe how words can be combined to form sentences, while syntactic rules describe how words must be arranged in order to form meaningful sentences.

2. 1. Tenses

One of the most important aspects of grammar is verb tenses. Tenses are used to indicate when an action takes place or when something happened in the past, present or future. There are four main verb tenses in English: present simple, present continuous, past simple and future simple. Each tense has its own specific function and uses different time indicators such as adverbs of time (e.g. now, then, tomorrow) or phrases with time words (e.g. last night, next week).

2. 1. Present simple

The present simple tense is used to describe habits and permanent situations that happen regularly or all the time. For example:
-I take the bus to work every day.
-John lives in New York City.
-We have two cats at home.
To form the present simple tense we use the base form of the verb (e.g. work, live, have) + -s for third person singular subjects (he, she, it). For negative sentences we add -es not + -s (e.g. I don’t work on weekends) and for questions we swap the subject and verb around (e.g.. Does she live in London?).

2. 1.2 Present continuous

The present continuous tense is used to describe current situations and future plans that are happening now or around now. For example:
-I am meeting John for lunch later today.
-We are going to Paris next week.
-They are playing tennis at the moment.
To form the present continuous tense we use the present tense form of the verb ‘to be’ (am/is/are) + the -ing form of the main verb (meeting, going, playing). For negative sentences we add -es not after ‘to be’ (e.g. She isn’t meeting her friends tonight) and for questions we swap the subject and ‘to be’ around (e.g. Is he playing tennis tomorrow ?). Remember that when using contractions in spoken English you need to use an apostrophe (-n’t). So, “She isn’t meeting…” would be contracted to “She isn’t meeting…”

2. 1.3 Past simple

The past simple tense is used to describe finished past actions that happened at a specific time. For example:
-I met John for lunch yesterday.
-We went to Paris last week.
-They played tennis yesterday afternoon.
To form the past simple tense we use the second form of the verb (e.g. met, went, played) + -ed for regular verbs and -t for irregular verbs. For negative sentences we add -es not after the verb (e.g. He didn’t meet his friends yesterday) and for questions we swap the subject and verb around (e.g.. Did she go to London last week?).

2. 1.4 Past continuous

The past continuous tense is used to describe past situations that were happening over a period of time. For example:
-I was meeting John for lunch when I saw Sarah.
-We were going to Paris when we realized we had forgotten our passports.
-They were playing tennis when it started raining.
To form the past continuous tense we use the second form of the verb ‘to be’ (was/were) + the -ing form of the main verb (meeting, going, playing). For negative sentences we add -es not after ‘to be’ (e.g.. She wasn’t meeting her friends yesterday afternoon) and for questions we swap the subject and ‘to be’ around (e.g.. Were they playing tennis when it started raining?). Remember that when using contractions in spoken English you need to use an apostrophe (-n’t). So, “She wasn’t meeting…” would be contracted to “She wasn’t meeting…”.

2. 1.5 Future simple

The future simple tense is used to describe future plans or predictions. For example:
-I will meet John for lunch later today.
-We will go to Paris next week.
-They will play tennis tomorrow afternoon.
To form the future simple tense we use the present tense form of the verb ‘to will’ (will) + the base form of the main verb (meet, go, play). For negative sentences we add -es not after ‘will’ (e.g.. I won’t meet my friends later today) and for questions we swap the subject and ‘will’ around (e.g.. Will they play tennis tomorrow afternoon?). Remember that when using contractions in spoken English you need to use an apostrophe (-n’t). So, “I won’t meet…” would be contracted to “I won��t meet…”………………

2. 2. Voice

Voice is the form of a verb that shows whether the subject is doing the action (active voice) or the action is being done to the subject (passive voice).

2. 2.1. Active voice

In active voice sentences, the subject is doing the action. For example:
-John is writing a letter.
-We are watching a movie.
-They are playing tennis.
To form active voice sentences we use the base form of the verb (write, watch, play) + -s for third person singular subjects (he, she, it). For negative sentences we add -es not + -s (e.g.. John isn’t writing a letter) and for questions we swap the subject and verb around (e.g.. Is he writing a letter?).

2. 2.2 Passive voice

In passive voice sentences, the subject is not doing the action, but the action is being done to the subject. For example:
-The letter is being written by John.
-The movie is being watched by us.
-The tennis match is being played by them.
To form passive voice sentences we use the second form of the verb ‘to be’ (is/are) + the past participle form of the main verb (written, watched, played). For negative sentences we add -es not after ‘to be’ (e.g.. The letter isn’t being written by John) and for questions we swap the subject and ‘to be’ around (e.g.. Is the tennis match being played by them?). Remember that when using contractions in spoken English you need to use an apostrophe (-n’t). So, “The letter isn’t being written…” would be contracted to “The letter isn’t being written…”……………… )

3. Conclusion

In this essay we have briefly touch upon what grammar is, what are its functions and how it can be taught to students in an effective way. It is important to note that grammar is only a part of language and should not be treated as the be-all and end-all of language learning. However, it is a necessary tool for communication and should be given due importance in any language learning endeavour.

FAQ

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. Its goals include understanding how languages work and how people use them, as well as developing ways to improve communication.

Linguistics has evolved over time from being a purely descriptive enterprise to one that also includes theoretical and applied components. The major theoretical approaches to linguistics include structuralism, generative grammar, cognitive grammar, functionalism, and sociolinguistics.

Grammar plays a significant role in language teaching because it helps learners understand the rules of a language and how to use it correctly. However, grammar can also be challenging for teachers because it can be difficult to explain and students may find it boring.

Some challenges that language teachers face when it comes to teaching grammar include finding interesting and engaging ways to present the material, as well as helping students understand and remember the rules.

Linguistics is the scientific study of language and its structure, development, and usage. The goals of linguistics include understanding how language works and how it is used by people in different situations.

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