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  1. #1
    richelle is offline Newbie
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    Red face syntax vs. grammar

    if i may ask you sir...
    what is the difference between them?

    if grammar is all about rules...
    and syntax is sentence formation...

    what is the difference then?

    thank you!

  2. #2
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: syntax vs. grammar

    Wow! 10 views so far, and nobody wants to be the first to step into this minefield. Here's a first shot (rather from the hip).

    The second syllable of syntax is a clue to its relationship to the word 'tactics'. It's the order that you put words in, much as a tactician deploys troops for various effects.

    'Grammar' has widely differing meanings - particularly descriptivist (the way things are in fact) and prescriptivist (the way someone thinks things should be.

    A descriptive grammar specifies a syntax for any particular language - the way words are actually put together to convey meaning. A prescriptive grammar prescribes a syntax (the way sentences should - according to a fairly random set of 'rules' - be put together).

    b (adopting foetal position and logging off immediately)

  3. #3
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    Default Re: syntax vs. grammar

    Hello, Richelle,
    Grammar is the framework of a language. It is a study or science that has two parts: morphology (the forms of words) and syntax (the combination of words into sentences).
    Morphology studies verbs, nouns, adjectives etc.
    Syntax deals with their functions in sentences - subjects, objects, attributes etc.
    To know you is to love you.
    To know, to love are both verbs (infinitives) - that's morphology.
    But they have different functions: to know is the subject, to love is part of the predicate - that's syntax.

    Why is it a minefield, Bob? Because some pugnatious people hate the word rules? Descriptivists who take part in forums like this think they make learning languages easier, but it's just the opposite - non-native learners have to remember numerous exceptions in addition. One has to know where exactly the rules can be lax.

    Regards

  4. #4
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: syntax vs. grammar

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Wow! 10 views so far, and nobody wants to be the first to step into this minefield. Here's a first shot (rather from the hip).

    The second syllable of syntax is a clue to its relationship to the word 'tactics'. It's the order that you put words in, much as a tactician deploys troops for various effects.

    'Grammar' has widely differing meanings - particularly descriptivist (the way things are in fact) and prescriptivist (the way someone thinks things should be.

    A descriptive grammar specifies a syntax for any particular language - the way words are actually put together to convey meaning. A prescriptive grammar prescribes a syntax (the way sentences should - according to a fairly random set of 'rules' - be put together).

    b (adopting foetal position and logging off immediately)
    I think you did a fine job.

  5. #5
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: syntax vs. grammar

    BobK:

    'Grammar' has widely differing meanings - particularly descriptivist (the way things are in fact) and prescriptivist (the way someone thinks things should be.

    A descriptive grammar specifies a syntax for any particular language - the way words are actually put together to convey meaning. A prescriptive grammar prescribes a syntax (the way sentences should - according to a fairly random set of 'rules' - be put together).


    Quote Originally Posted by Humble View Post

    Why is it a minefield, Bob? Because some pugnatious people hate the word rules? Descriptivists who take part in forums like this think they make learning languages easier, but it's just the opposite - non-native learners have to remember numerous exceptions in addition. One has to know where exactly the rules can be lax.

    Regards
    Good job, Bob!

    The problem as I see it is that very few really understand what Descriptivism is. In actuality, it is Descriptivism that describes the minute details of language, the basic rules of language. Prescriptivism has never ever ever attempted this.

    All Prescriptivism has done is make up rules according to some individual's personal tastes. That is, on its face, ludicrous in the extreme. You don't study something and inject personal taste and opinion in that study.

    Everyone admits that this is what Prescriptivism is and yet so many still give it far far too much credence.

    Humble, it is Prescriptivism that has never followed the rules of English, the rules Bobk describes as, let me run and get the exact quote, ... "(the way things are in fact)".

    Descriptivists love rules, the factual rules, not some made up nonsense.

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    Default Re: syntax vs. grammar

    The argument about whether descriptivism or prescriptivism is the better approach to grammar is irrelevant to this thread and most likely unhelpful to richelle.

  7. #7
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: syntax vs. grammar

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    The argument about whether descriptivism or prescriptivism is the better approach to grammar is irrelevant to this thread and most likely unhelpful to richelle.
    I think it is spot on important. When ESLs come to realize that prescriptions are merely demanded for tests and have no connection to real language, the time will come when we are able to put these nonsensical "rules" to rest.

    When that happens, ESLs won't have to go through a false learning process. They'll be informed from the outset how language is really used.

  8. #8
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: syntax vs. grammar

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    I think it is spot on important. When ESLs come to realize that prescriptions are merely demanded for tests and have no connection to real language, the time will come when we are able to put these nonsensical "rules" to rest.

    When that happens, ESLs won't have to go through a false learning process. They'll be informed from the outset how language is really used.
    You are singing the same old song. ESL students are smart enough to realize that prescriptivism sets the rules for standard English. And, most of them come here seeking those rules. You can denigrate prescriptivism all you want, but you can't change it.

  9. #9
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: syntax vs. grammar

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    You are singing the same old song. ESL students are smart enough to realize that prescriptivism sets the rules for standard English. And, most of them come here seeking those rules. You can denigrate prescriptivism all you want, but you can't change it.
    That is an absolute falsehood, Mike. I'm not at all sure you understand what Prescriptivism is.

    ++++++++++++
    CGEL:

    There are also topics in a descriptive grammar that are uniformly ignored by prescriptivists These include the most salient and well-known principles of syntax. Prescriptive works tend to be highly selective, dealing only with points on which people make mistakes (or what are commonly thought to be mistakes).

    ++++++++++++++++

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    Default Re: syntax vs. grammar

    My earlier comment was made as a moderator, and I reiterate it here:

    This thread is about the difference in meaning between the technical terms "grammar" and "syntax". It is not about the relative merits and demerits of prescriptivism or descriptivism.

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