Studying Grammar vs Using Grammar

Studying Grammar vs Using Grammar. (ESL)

By Dayne Collins.


I think I could spend my whole life studying the patterns and structure of a language without learning how to speak, write, or read it. I would probably know every little detail of the language, but never be able to use my knowledge and understanding in a practical way. Before I go any further, I would like to clarify that English grammar is important. In this post I simply want to share my views on learning about grammar, and learning how to use grammar correctly.


English is taught internationally with a heavy focus on grammar, but is there too much focus on grammar? I want you to try to think back to when you were an infant, how did you learn your native language? I doubt your parents lovingly whispered the details of complex sentence structure in your little ears. First you began to listen to, recognise, and understand your native language. Then one day your goo goo's and ga ga's began to transform into real words. 

By the time we were old enough to go to school, we already had a near fluent verbal command of our native language. But could you read and write? at 5 years old, would you have been able to explain to me why you structured words in a certain way? The answer is most likely no. You learnt the complex structure of your language inadvertently by listening, and speaking. So why aren't second languages taught in a way reminiscent of the natural acquisition of our native language? 

Why do so many English learners know more about the technicalities of English grammar than the average native speaker? Also, if these complexities are taught so thoroughly, why do so many learners still struggle to use it in real world settings?

 Don't get me wrong, grammar is very important. If you are in school, and you need to pass English exams, I suggest you do focus on the technicalities and terminologies being drilled over and over by your teacher. Otherwise there is no need for you to be able to write a 50,000 word essay on English grammar... You just need to know how to use it correctly!


If you are attempting to complete the transition from being adequate to being fluent at English, then English Club is a great place for it. Don't hesitate to leave the chat room once in a while, and check out all the great information here for English learners.


I don't have all the answers. I would really love to hear your opinion on English grammar. What has worked for you? Please leave a comment in the comment section below.




I have created a short list of advanced vocabulary & meanings from this blog post. (Below)


Inadvertently - without intention.


Reminiscent - to be reminded of something/ to resemble something.


Acquisition - to gain/obtain an asset, object, or even a new skill.


Complexities - parts, details or factors of a complicated process.


Transition - a process of change.


Adequate - Acceptable/satisfactory


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  • setareh, Thanks! I couldn't agree more. :D

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  • Dear Dayne, thanks for your useful post. When I studied about grammer at school I really didn't like it. It is boring. But when I started learning English through English institues that somehow focus on speaking a little more, I started to love grammars too. So I believe learning grammar practically through speaking and making mistakes is much better than only learning all the details of grammar without putting it in action. Thanks for sharing your nice post.
  • Ann, I think that you're on the right path. The best way for you to keep improving is to keep using it!

    Keep up the good work. :D

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  • Oh, you are a great teacher. Happy that you are here.
    As to grammar, my English grammar is not good now. Tanya, my friend, my teacher told me to read the grammar book. She even help me to send me a good grammar English book. But you know i'm so lazy to read. I just read it when I want to check some grammar point. There are so many information to read. I sent much time in the past to learn grammar. After 5 years without using English I forget almost.
    Now I don't want to focus on learning grammar. I want to learn in a more active way: communicate with friends here in MyEC by using English. Luckily, Tanya always help me to correct my mistakes which I have a lot. My friends said that my English is much better. I think it is bette but I don't know how it is because I still feel difficult to use it. I hope to have more spare time to be active here.
  • Nida, I think we're on the same page! 

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  • Arlene, Thanks! Keep up the good work

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  • Its a great blog Dayne..

    Grammar is being taught to me since i was in primary school. Unfortunately, i still have problem with my grammar until now.
    For some reasons 1.probably im not attentive in class 2. I rarely speak/write in english language so eventually i forget about what i learned in school. 3. I dont read books or newspapers.

    Im planning to take english exam so i back in studying grammar. And just like a baby, each day i take a baby step to improve it.
  • I completely agree with you, Dayne!

    In fact, it'd not only be more practical but also enjoyable to learn a second language like we learned our native language. I could say that because of my personal experience. I learned a second language, just like almost all of my compatriot did and are bilingual, by watching tv or mingling with class fellows and teachers at school. I think that was easy because that other languages was being used a lot in my surroundings. On the contrary, however, I couldn't learn English the same way although I started learning English from kindergarten but I was still learning grammar when I was in 12th grade because in my personal opinion I was either only coming in contact with English when there was an English Language class(almost a 45 min duration class 6 days a week) or while watching half an our of cartoons or a English movie our state tv would telecast a few times in a week in those days and we only had one tv channel in those times. From 11th grade on-wards, all my studies were purely in English, I must add here. However, I'm still struggling to become a fluent speaker of English. Here I must admit that I hardly know any grammar of the two languages I'm fluent in!

    So question arises why there is difference? I guess the answer is, as I wrote above, whether you're completely immersed in a language or not. I haven't used English in real life situations as much as I need to. What do you think, Dayne?

  • usra riasat, Thanks for commenting  

  •        Hi my friend Dayne, one day I was sitting with a great woman from South Africa. Her name is Salam. During the conversation which was between her and I, she noticed my hesitation while I speak English. She whispered in my ears" Sewar, don't follow the grammar while you are speaking English, that's interrupts your speaking, just speak without thinking about grammar. Grammar will come automatically later". Really my friend, her advice helped me a lot. 

         Finally, thanks for everything.  

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