Language is a subtle and multifaceted thing, which many specialists are studying. Grammar can be studied in many different ways. One can distinguish two types of grammar: descriptive and prescriptive. While descriptive grammar describes how the language is used, prescriptive grammar defines how the language should be used by native speakers (Does Grammar Matter?). The approaches of the two types of grammar are different, as are the ideas about the language. Each of them, however, is interesting and has the right to exist.
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Descriptive grammar aims to describe how native speakers use the language daily. This type of grammar includes rules about how the language is used but not how it should be used. The focus of descriptive grammar lies on identifying and describing the diversity of a language without explaining what is correct and what is incorrect (Does Grammar Matter?). This approach includes studying the principles and patterns that determine the use of words, phrases, and expressions of native speakers.
Prescriptive grammar consists of rules for the use of the language by native speakers. These rules teach the speaker the most correct and accurate use of the language. Prescriptive grammar describes the mistakes to avoid, the grammatical model to adhere to. The thing is that the roots of prescriptive grammar go back to the 18th century when there were various social elites with specific language standards. Thus, this approach suggests the existence of “bad” and “good” grammar, and its primary attention is paid to syntactic constructions and grammatical forms.
I adhere to a descriptive approach to grammar because I do not support condemning deviations from an artificial language standard. I believe that prescriptive grammar mistakenly assumes some universal and unchangeable language standard which often does not even correspond to reality. Prescriptive grammar does not recognize that the language is constantly changing. People can speak differently depending on their age, education, social and racial affiliation, and beliefs.
“Does Grammar Matter?”. TED: Ideas worth spreading, uploaded by Andreea Calude, 2016.