Re: Learning nitpicky grammar

Subject: Re: Learning nitpicky grammar
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2001 09:42:17 -0800

Meg H wrote:
> Hi all --
> The nitpicky grammar thread has me thinking. (Wow!
> Amazing!) I'm one of those who relies heavily on "ear"
> because I have almost no formal training in grammar.
> Can anyone recommend a reference that explains stuff
> like diagramming sentences? I have references about
> grammar, but I'm curious about this diagramming
> business.

Unless you've received complaints about your grammar, don't worry.
The chances are that your grammar is adequate.

As for diagramming sentences (or parsing, to give the action its
proper name), that is mostly a concern of experts. Nor does parsing,
by itself, teach grammar. As a former teacher, I can attest to the
fact that many people who can parse a sentence perfectly are still
unable to write a decent one themselves. But, unfortunately, parsing
is often used to the exclusion of all other methods, so that what
many people learn is that reading and writing are boring subjects
and that they want no part of such things.

That's not to say that parsing isn't useful - just that it shouldn't
be seen as the only way to learn grammar. But it is far more
effective when combined with an active program of reading and
writing. Admittedly, many professional writers go through a period
of parsing the sentences (and larger structural elements) of authors
whom they admire, but that is at a fairly advanced stage of


Bruce Byfield, Progeny Linux Systems
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com

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