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What Is Advanced Grammar?

By Angela Farrer
Updated May 23, 2024
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Advanced grammar is the study of composition rules and techniques beyond the basic level. Success in studying grammar beyond the basics generally requires a solid foundation in the correct use of words, phrases, sentence clauses, and paragraphs. Students of advanced grammar are usually approaching the completion of their high school educations, and a working knowledge of language at this level is considered by some a requirement to do well at the university level. Second language learners who have mastered structural rules and syntax also study advanced grammar in preparation for language proficiency exams that are sometimes required to determine eligibility for citizenship, study abroad programs, or certain job roles.

A good working knowledge of advanced grammar is considered essential for writing proficiency regardless of the subject and purpose. College-level courses in this subject generally focus on the process of building consistent and clear written sentences that follow an established set of rules. The study of these types of structural rules often entails exercises in correct pronoun references, sentence variety, and word choices. Grammar students are also sometimes asked to experiment with creating different emphases by first writing the same topic in the active versus the passive voice and then comparing the two choices.

Learning to apply the principles of advanced grammar involves understanding the various types and structures of written communication. Language is often flexible by nature, and it can be used for many purposes such as to narrate, to describe, to argue, and to expose. Any of these writing objectives can be effectively accomplished with the application of rules for good word choice and style. These rules generally serve as means for unifying a group of sentences into a paragraph that clearly expresses a main idea.

Morphology is an additional area of focus in the study of advanced grammar; it relates to the sometimes significant changes in meaning that can happen to the same word when the tense or context is also changed. Second language learners can sometimes find this area of grammar challenging if the morphology rules are considerably different from those of their native language. An understanding of morphology is usually considered a prerequisite for studying phonology, which is an area of linguistics that is mainly concerned with the nuances and phonics of spoken language. The study of sound tied to grammar structure is one of the main ways to develop an in-depth understanding of a given language's subtle meanings.

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Discussion Comments

By David09 — On Dec 13, 2011

@nony - I’ve taught advanced English grammar for some time. Yes, there’s a world of complexity in English grammar. However, if I can help students improve their writing in a demonstrable way, this usually encourages them to want to learn all of the nuances.

One of the most immediate ways that I can do this is to point out the difference between the active and passive verb tense. I preach constantly, “Write in the active voice!” – making sure that I explain what I mean by active voice.

I had one student who took this bit of instruction by the horns, and his compositions dramatically improved. He became one of my best students ever and helped the other students simply by example. His writing became more forceful and concise.

By nony — On Dec 12, 2011

@Mammmood - I spent four years in Indonesia where I had to teach grammar for ESL students there as well as helping the teachers prepare for the TOEFL exam.

Indonesian verb tenses are simple – there are only a handful of words that you need to learn to transform a verb into past, present and future. To duplicate the equivalent of our various conjugations, you mix and match other words that approximate these tenses but otherwise it’s very simple.

Students there found mastery of English verb conjugation to be very daunting indeed and it was the area where I spent the most time going over the same material over and over again.

By Mammmood — On Dec 12, 2011

@allenJo - That sounds like it would have been a useful course to take for a lot of people actually. In English grammar usage mistakes are pretty rampant from what I've seen.

The fact is, English is not an easy language. You have many ways of conjugating verbs, with things like perfect tenses and present progressive and so forth. After awhile it can be very confusing.

By allenJo — On Dec 11, 2011

In my senior year of college I took a course in AP English. In addition to studying the classics of Western literature we focused a lot on grammar and usage.

Usage involved a lot of discussion about word choice, including words that were commonly misused. For example, we learned that the word “infer” means that the reader draws a conclusion based on a subtext, whereas “imply” meant that the author (or speaker) made a subtle suggestion.

In other words, the author was giving the hint by “implying” but the reader was getting the hint by “inferring.” The problem was, these two words often got confused, as in someone would say that, “He inferred such and such,” when he really meant, “He implied.”

We also learned the difference between “fewer” and “less than.” Fewer referred to a specific quantity, whereas less than referred to an abstract quantity.

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