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5.1: Introduction to Grammar

Identify patterns of academic grammar and usage

  • Identify the function of nouns and different noun types.
  • Identify the function and structure of pronouns.
  • Identify verb types and their correction conjugation.
  • Identify adjectives, adverbs, and the differences between the two.
  • Identify the function other parts of speech, including conjunctions, prepositions, and articles.
  • Identify common punctuation marks and the rules for their correct usage.
  • Identify common sentence types and common errors in sentence composition.
  • Identify the active and passive voices, as well as the reasons to use both.

Why is it helpful to identify patterns of academic grammar and punctuation usage?

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Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\)

Take a moment and try to imagine a world without language: written, signed, or spoken. It’s pretty hard to conceptualize, right? Language is a constant presence all around us. It’s how we communicate with others; without language it would be incredibly difficult to connect people.

So what does this have to do with grammar?

Because language is how we connect with others, it’s also the way we often form our opinions about people. When you first meet a new person, the way he speaks (or writes or signs) is likely going to be your first impression of him. What if he used some of these phrases?

  • I’ve got y’all’s assignments here.
  • I might could climb to the top.
  • They’re fixing to go for a hike.

If you heard someone say these (and say them with a drawl), you would assume he is from the South or Texas. You may use this assumption to then apply stereotypes about Southern people and customs to this person as well. This kind of judgement may or may not be fair, but we all make these kind of judgements every day.

You can’t control what other people think about you and your language usage, but you can control how you present yourself in different situations.

Code-Switching

One of the challenges facing college writers is that the language used for academic purposes is quite different in style, shape, and tone than the language we use in other settings: our home lives, our professional lives, our religious lives, our romantic lives.

You might have a feeling that the way you talk or write is “wrong.” That isn’t the case at all! All languages have their appropriate uses and settings. Your grandma would not be happy if you spoke in academic language as you’re sitting around the Thanksgiving dinner table. Likewise, your professors aren’t happy when you bring Thanksgiving dinner conversation styles into written assignments for their classes.

This is the idea of code-switching: that each of use moves between different variations of language in different contexts. Academic language is one variation, and it has a strict set of rules to follow. The rules of academic language will be explored in detail in this section.

About the Videos in this Module

You’ll quickly recognize a distinctive voice and format in the videos in this section of the course.  Our narrator guide will be David, Grammar Content Fellow from the Khan Academy. He offers charming insights and a straightforward, encouraging approach to understanding our language in all its quirks.

Get started with David, and with Grammar, here.

 

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