Grammar, syntax and clear communication
“Grammar” refers to the ways in which sentence parts may be related to one another in any language system. For instance, computer languages have a grammar, and if you don’t understand its basics you can’t write a computer programme. The same applies to English grammar. Knowing at least the basic grammatical rules you can communicate effectively. This is especially true of written communication.
As with all communication codes, grammar depends on consistency; it depends upon writer and reader being aware of the same rules, which always apply. If, as writers, we ignore grammatical code rules, our readers may misunderstand our meaning.
Because English has been shaped over many centuries by a variety of linguistic influences (in particular, Greek and Latin, Anglo-Saxon, and French), the code rules of English grammar sometimes seem inconsistent. However, by understanding how sentences in English are structured, we can avoid some of the more common grammatical errors.
Syntax simply means the grammatical arrangement of words in a sentence. Principles of syntax may relate to grammatical correctness, to meaning, or to style.
This program deals with a few of the code rules that cause problems for writers and readers:
- agreement between subject and verb
- agreement between pronoun and antecedent noun
- parallel construction
- correctly related modifiers
To gain a better understanding of the importance of codes, play The Code Game (Exercise 1).
There are many other rules of grammar and you’re encouraged to consult the many useful texts that give a more comprehensive and detailed coverage of grammar but these four code rules will help you avoid some of the more common errors in academic and professional writing.
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