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  1. Mad-ox's Avatar
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    #1

    hi, What is prescriptive and descriptive grammar?


  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: hi, What is prescriptive and descriptive grammar?

    If you have a spare day or two to separate the wheat from the chaff (sort out what is useful and what is not) you could look here: https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/g...t=Prescriptive

    If you want a shorter answer: prescriptive grammars are ones that say what a speaker or writer 'should' say/write, whereas descriptive grammars look at what native speakers actually do. Opinions on the relative merits of the two approaches can get very heated.

    b

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: hi, What is prescriptive and descriptive grammar?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    If you have a spare day or two to separate the wheat from the chaff (sort out what is useful and what is not) you could look here: https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/g...t=Prescriptive

    If you want a shorter answer: prescriptive grammars are ones that say what a speaker or writer 'should' say/write, whereas descriptive grammars look at what native speakers actually do. Opinions on the relative merits of the two approaches can get very heated.

    b
    I agree with your descriptions and your warning.


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    #4

    Re: hi, What is prescriptive and descriptive grammar?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    If you want a shorter answer: prescriptive grammars are ones that say what a speaker or writer 'should' say/write, whereas descriptive grammars look at what native speakers actually do.
    b
    An addition. Prescriptive grammar is reponsible for all the truly nonsensical "rules" that have been propagated over the centuries. This, in and of itself, is a good reason why one should be very careful about trusting anything prescriptive.

    Bob's two definitions point to the vacuous nature of prescriptive grammar.

    Since the context of the situation, the desires of the speaker, the social register and some other considerations all have to be addressed to decide on what language to use at any given time, it is ludicrous to think that anyone can prescribe one choice.

    Language gatekeepers have singled out some aspects of the many patterns of variation as grounds for action. Their choices — and the reasons given for them — often don't stand up to inspection.

    ...

    A complex pattern of influences keeps the linguistic pot bubbling. Variation is everywhere. Change never stops. Language gatekeepers cannot control an ever-changing world of diversity. It’s hard on them, because in the gatekeepers' world, variation means error and change means decline.

    What’s more, the very notion of a single standard of correctness in language is quite recent. “Correctness” is based solely on a purist’s own notion of what is socially or culturally correct: if it's not in, it must be out. A language purist works from a list of exceptions to the rule, ordinary speakers follow a hierarchy of patterns that reveal analogical similarities.

    Do You Speak American . What Speech Do We Like Best? . Correct American . Gatekeeping | PBS
    MadOx, prescriptive grammar is much much much too simplistic in nature to be seriously considered as an aid to learning English. Descriptive grammars tell us how language really works, what structures/collocations are formal or informal and when and how they're used by real English speakers.

    Read the whole article at the site listed above and then read, "The Decline of Grammar, found at,

    Do You Speak American . What Speech Do We Like Best? . Correct American . Decline | PBS

    to get a good idea of just how empty prescriptive grammar is and how Descriptive grammar is the smart choice for discovering the truth about language and its inner workings.

  4. Mad-ox's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: hi, What is prescriptive and descriptive grammar?

    Thank you for your detailed answers

  5. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: hi, What is prescriptive and descriptive grammar?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mad-ox View Post
    Thank you for your detailed answers
    The rules that hold the language together and determine whether certain uses are correct or incorrect are prescriptive. These rules are extremely important for learners; the rules guide them in their acquisition of correct standard English. Descriptive grammar is important as a research tool, but it is not, IMO, very important in the classroom. These are the definitions from American Heritage Dictionary. Notice that scholars can define both viewpoints without the need for demonization.

    de·scrip·tive (dĭ-skrĭp'tĭv)
    adj.
    1. Linguistics. Of or relating to the study or the description of a language or a specific stage of a language, with emphasis on constructing a grammar without regard to historical development, comparison with other languages, or advocated norms for correct or proper usage.
    pre·scrip·tive (prĭ-skrĭp'tĭv)
    adj.
    1. Linguistics. Based on or establishing norms or rules indicating how a language should or should not be used rather than describing the ways in which a language is used.

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