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What Are the Different Types of Grammar Textbooks?

By E. Reeder
Updated: May 23, 2024

There are various types of grammar textbooks. Some simply list language rules and give examples, while others explain rules and have exercises and activities for students to complete. University grammar courses might require advanced grammar textbooks that explain higher-level concepts. Some university-level grammar textbooks also contain research studies in grammar. These textbooks come in different formats, such as traditional soft or hardbound textbooks, textbooks that come with a CD-ROM for activities or multimedia presentations, and textbooks that are entirely online.

Textbooks for grammar instruction can include information — such as sentence structure, parts of speech, usage rules and verb tenses — about the language toward which they are geared. Grammar books also commonly contain instructional material about how to write effectively in different formats, whether scientific reports or descriptive or persuasive essays. They also may include details on how to research, document, and write about information from various sources. Such books might have simple grammar exercises as well as more involved activities requiring students to write in-depth paragraphs and full essays. Some grammar manuals also give students information about how to study and how to present speeches correctly.

Grammar textbooks vary in terms of difficulty and the age level for which they are appropriate. The most basic textbooks in the field of grammar would be geared for young children or for non-native speakers, readers and writers. These books would explain rules, give examples and have exercises for students to complete. This is the same format that grammar textbooks suited for older or more advanced students often have, except that the more advanced textbooks would be comprised of more difficult exercises.

As grammar studies become more advanced and specialized at the university level, the textbooks also become narrower in focus, because they present higher-level information for students to read and synthesize. University-level grammar textbooks may focus on areas such as morphology, linguistics, syntax and phonology as well as the history, development and changes of the language about which they are written. Textbooks at this level also contain in-depth case studies and research reports specific to grammar.

Any of the types of grammar textbooks listed above can be produced in various formats. They can be familiar soft-cover or hard-cover textbooks. Some grammar texts are accompanied by CD-ROMs that provide activities or multimedia presentations via the computer. Textbooks for grammar often have accompanying websites through which students can practice the concepts presented. Just as some courses are taught entirely online, some textbooks for grammar courses also are completely online.

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Discussion Comments
By MissDaphne — On Feb 04, 2012

@jennythelib - You are wise to suggest those. The Purdue OWL website has a lot of information about how to cite sources using various methods, but I don't think it gets into that grammatical nitty-gritty like you're talking about. Most professors aren't too picky but it's nice to have a manual around to consult when you need it.

When you're talking about instructional grammar books that you would use in grade school, another difference to be aware of is how technical the book is. Some grammar books will teach fairly complex concepts, such as classifying prepositional phrases as either adjectives or adverbs, while others are more focused on the mechanics of writing. Some even have sentence diagramming included (although this seems to have moved from the main content to an appendix).

And another option is Daily Grammar Practice and things like that. Instead of a big textbook, students have a folder that gives some brief examples and they concentrate in great detail on one sentence per week. In a traditional classroom, the beginning of the class is devoted to this sentence each day and the rest of the period is used for literature and writing.

By jennythelib — On Feb 03, 2012

Another type of grammar textbook is a style manual, like the APA's Publication Manual or the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.

These do not go into as much detail about the foundations of grammar, but at the upper levels, they are very important. Remember how your middle school English teacher admitted that some textbooks taught things one way, and some another? Well, style manuals have *one way* that they expect to be followed. These subtle differences are important in the nit-picky world of academia!

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