Every language or dialect has structural patterns in which words, phrases, and clauses normally occur. These patterns or rules reflect how meaning is made within a given language. For linguists, the word “grammar” refers to this set of structural patterns and rules.
In academic writing and publishing, it is more appropriate to understand grammar as a set of prescriptive norms – correct and incorrect ways to form sentences. Grammatical correctness is based on a shared set of conventions and standards. Sometimes these conventions shift over time, and structures once considered incorrect can become accepted – for example, using “their” instead of “his or her.”
Adhering to standards of grammatical correctness is an important skill to develop and display in academic writing. It shows your familiarity with academic norms and standards, as well as your attention to detail, both of which serve to enhance your credibility as a researcher and a scholar.
Additional Grammar Links
- Video (2:45): "What Is Grammar?," Khan Academy
- Video (19:00): "24 Tips for Writers: Common Mistakes and How to Avoid or Fix Grammar, Writing, & Spelling Problems," Gerard J. Senick, Wayne State University
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