Lesson 1: Definitions of Grammar

An Inclusive Definition

Introduction to Lesson 1

Duration: 00:25


In this lesson, I ask students to review their definitions of grammar. The main problem we have to define grammar is how to circumscribe it. For instance, information about semantics and pragmatics can broaden our definition. And as it turns out, grammar is highly contextualized. To make this point clear, we analyze two lesson plans that introduce grammatical structures associated with recipes.

Before addressing grammar instruction, there must be a discussion about the definition of grammar. The following are three common definitions.

  1. The study of how words and their component parts combine to form sentences.
  2. The written official rules, and unwritten common-knowledge rules, governing how words are put together to form a written and spoken language.
  3. The branch of linguistics that deals with syntax and morphology (and sometimes semantics).

What do you see missing from these definitions? Consider whether spoken language should have a place in the definition of grammar. Can a definition of grammar be isolated from a definition of language?

An Inclusive Definition of Grammar

For the purposes of this course, let us consider a definition of grammar that is included within a framework of language.


The instructor describes Bachman's model of language.

Duration: 01:32

According to this language model, grammar and pragmatics (the appropriate use of spoken language) are inextricably linked. Consider how embracing this model would change grammar instruction in your language classroom.