English Grammar English Grammar 101
I ntroduction
To Those Grammarians Among Us
By: Marvin L. Van Horne, M.A., Retired Capt. U.S. Army
Author and Instructional Designer, 1936-2006

Why study grammar? The modern biolinguists seem to indicate that spoken language is strongly instinctual in nature. A person does not just mimic what has been heard but rather creates and composes a communication. Writing, however, seems to be more cultural than instinctive. A young person who might have great facility with the spoken language must still be taught the abstract symbols of the language and some of the structure of the language (grammar) before the person can communicate well in writing. The exactness and unlimited creativeness found in the written language are the result of the writer's knowledge of the nature and the structure of the English sentence.

It is my opinion that knowledge of grammar does not create a stilted use of the language but rather frees the student to use the language in limitless ways. For this reason grammar is not studied for the sake of grammar alone but for the sake of communication. This instructional series was written to allow students to experience and to learn the patterns and functions of the English sentence.

The key to this instructional approach is the transformational aspect of the language. Words in and of themselves do not constitute specific parts of speech. The role or function of a word (phrase or clause) is determined by how the word is used in the sentence. A verb in one sentence may be a noun in the next. These "conceptual" foundations rather than "rule" foundations are emphasized in the study.

This unusual grammar series can be described as a tie between traditional grammars and the modern linguistic grammars. Those common terms found in the traditional grammars are used so that there will be a common vocabulary between students and teachers and between generations. Once students and teachers are able to talk about the elements of the sentence, the teaching and the learning of writing are greatly enhanced.

Unlike most grammar texts that present "a little of this and a little of that," the learning in this grammar series is cumulative and directed toward specific performance goals. The cumulative nature of the study is seen in that the student requirements in the first sentence of volume one and the last sentence of volume five are far different. The course material and the exercises are structured in such a way to bring about the measured student learning desired.