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  1. Junior Member
    Student or Learner
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      • Native Language:
      • French
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      • France
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      • China

    • Join Date: Oct 2008
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    Smile Descriptive grammar and standard english grammar

    Dear teacher, could you tell me the difference between descriptive english grammar and standard english grammar? and what does textbook grammar mean? these three terms have confused me since i seriously studied grammar.
    thank you very much

  2. Editor,
    English Teacher
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      • British English
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      • UK
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      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
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    Re: Descriptive grammar and standard english grammar

    A descriptive grammar analyses the language people use and synthesises rules from the patterns of usage. A prescriptive grammar (aka traditional/standard) approaches it from the opposite direction- it has a body of rules and tells people to apply these rules to the language they use.

    A prescriptive grammar could tell you that 'If I was' is wrong because we should use the subjunctive form there and say 'If I were', while a descriptive grammar would say that both forms are used so both forms are acceptable. 'Textbook grammar' is not a specific term but can be used to refer in a negative way to the grammar rules given in textbooks, because they are oversimplified, outdated or inaccurate.

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