[ gram-er ]
/ ˈgræm ər /
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Can You Correct These Grammatically Incorrect Song Lyrics?

These lyrics may be catchy, but there’s one, big grammatical error within them. Can you spot it?

Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Origin of grammar

1325–75; Middle English gramery<Old French gramaire<Latin gramatica<Greek grammatikḕ (téchnē) grammatical (art); see -ar2


gram·mar·less, adjective


grammar , grandma, grandmother
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is grammar?

Grammar is the study of how sentences in a specific language are constructed.

Grammar also refers to the features and rules of the language that guide users to creating properly constructed sentences. When we follow grammar rules it helps our listeners and readers understand what we’re trying to communicate.

For example, one feature of English grammar is that the order of the words in a sentence helps tell us what job each word is doing. If we put all the nouns at the front of the sentence, as in I dogs own three, you’d wonder what we meant. When we put the subject of the sentence before the verb and the object after it, as in I own three dogs, you can understand what we mean.

As with most languages, English has many different aspects of grammar that we follow in order to make understandable sentences. Most people learn and improve their grammar throughout their lives, starting when they first learn the language.

Why is grammar important?

The first records of the word grammar comes from around 1325. It ultimately comes from the Greek word grammatikós, meaning “knowing one’s letters.”

The idea of grammar is much older than the word itself and older even than the English language, as we can see from the word’s origin. Every major language on Earth has some system of grammar, and some language experts believe that language itself cannot exist without grammar.

Usually, children learn to speak their first language without actually being taught the rules of grammar. Instead, they slowly learn by copying how other people talk. Once they start school, children are taught the rules they’ve been using unconsciously. Students are taught different grammar concepts throughout their schooling. People whose jobs directly relate to language, such as writers, editors, linguists, and lexicographers, learn even more about grammar as part of their job training.

Did you know … ?

Some people are especially bothered by even the smallest grammar errors, which we all make. Unfortunately, the errors many people are bothered by are not actually errors. You can learn more about this tendency at the entry for grammar nazi, though you might not want to use that term itself.

What are real-life examples of grammar?

Many children learned grammar from books like these:

Although many people care about grammar, they often struggle with it, especially on social media.


What other words are related to grammar?

Quiz yourself!

True or False?

Grammar only matters when it comes to writing and not speaking.

How to use grammar in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for grammar

/ (ˈɡræmə) /

the branch of linguistics that deals with syntax and morphology, sometimes also phonology and semantics
the abstract system of rules in terms of which a person's mastery of his native language can be explained
a systematic description of the grammatical facts of a language
a book containing an account of the grammatical facts of a language or recommendations as to rules for the proper use of a language
  1. the use of language with regard to its correctness or social propriety, esp in syntaxthe teacher told him to watch his grammar
  2. (as modifier)a grammar book
the elementary principles of a science or artthe grammar of drawing

Derived forms of grammar

grammarless, adjective

Word Origin for grammar

C14: from Old French gramaire, from Latin grammatica, from Greek grammatikē (tekhnē) the grammatical (art), from grammatikos concerning letters, from gramma letter
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for grammar


The rules for standard use of words. A grammar is also a system for classifying and analyzing the elements of language.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.