What is grammar?

We explain what grammar is, its parts, levels of analysis and what types exist. In addition, relationship between grammar and spelling.

  1. What is grammar?

Grammar  is the set of language rules that regulate the use of a particular language , as well as the composition and syntactic organization of sentences . Grammar is also called science that is dedicated to the general study of these elements. The term comes from the grammatiké grigo or “art of letters.”

Generally, the term grammar applies only to the syntactic and morphological aspects of the language, but it is common that it also involves lexical, semantic and even phonetic-phonological elements. Each language has its own grammar, in turn endowed with its own logic , that is, its way of organizing linguistic signs and, therefore, of organizing reality.

Grammar as a field of study occupied philosophers of classical antiquity such as Socrates and Aristotle, although the first treatise on Greek grammar as such was the work of Crates de Malos in the second century BC. C.

Then, during the Middle Ages , the prevailing grammar study model was that of the Ars grammar of Elio Donato, from the fourth century. It was replaced in 1492 by the first Spanish grammar , the work of Antonio Nebrija, once Latin had given way to its descendant languages, such as Spanish, French, Italian, Catalan, Galician and Portuguese, among others.

  1. Grammar and orthography

We do not talk about the same when mentioning grammar and spelling, although they are often taught together, especially at school. But if by grammar we understand the formal logic of each language, spelling is the correct way to write the words and accompany them with punctuation marks, that is, the normative part of the language.

A good grasp of grammar allows you to handle the rules of language and be able to express yourself with greater ease, beauty or complexity. On the other hand, the spelling allows to adequately capture this thought in writing. However, only the handling of the two things allows a correct expression, free of spelling errors and grammatical errors.

  1. Grammar types

The main approaches to grammar study are the following:

  • Prescriptive or normative grammar . As the name implies, part of an ideal and a sense of rightness in the language, to suggest to its speakers the appropriate or recommended way to formulate and organize their sentences.
  • Descriptive grammar . Unlike the previous one, it does not judge as “correct” or “incorrect” the way in which different speakers make use of the language, but aspires to understand what the actual use of language norms is within a given community or communities .
  • Traditional grammar . It is the historical set of documents and ideas inherited from previous civilizations around what grammar is.
  • Functional grammar . It aims to be a general grammar of natural language, that is, a set of basic rules applicable to different languages ​​with different grammars.
  • Formal grammar . These are called abstract grammars, which can apply their logic to nonverbal languages, such as computer programming languages .
  1. Parts of the grammar

The grammar comprises four clearly differentiated branches or parts, which address different aspects of the language. These are:

  • Phonetics . The one that deals with the ordering of the sounds that make up the words, as well as their changes in realization depending on their specific position or grammatical context.
  • Morphology . The one that deals with the way in which words are constructed, that is, in the way in which we put together their main roots or fragments, endowed with lexical meaning, with other fragments that modulate, change or determine the final meaning of what has been said.
  • Syntax . The one that deals with the internal organization of the sentence, according to a sequential logic established in the grammar laws and in the logic of the language.
  • Semantics . The one that deals with the meaning of words and their role within the set of dynamics and patterns that constitute a language.
  1. Grammar Levels

Just as there are branches or parts of the grammar, they determine the levels of grammatical analysis, that is, which of these branches we pay attention to when observing or studying the language. For example:

  • Syntactic-morphological level . From the combination of morphology and syntax, morphosyntaxis is born, which is the approach to verbal language from a formal-functional point of view, that is, in the way words are constructed and organized to form a gifted spoken chain. of a logical meaning.
  • Lexical-semantic level . At this level we only care about the meaning and its correlation with the words, or what is the same, the way in which a word can refer to different senses or vice versa.
  • Phonetic-phonological level . For its part, at this level we will deal with the sounds that make up the language, that is, the sounds and the signs we use to represent them.
  • Pragmatic level . At this level we deal with the language in its communicative context, taking into account elements and uses that are not canonical, that is, they are not contemplated in the grammatical “norms” of the language, but that serve as support when expressing their contents.

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