Section 1: Beginnings

Analyzing Grammar in Context is a grammar text, developed originally for a course at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas: Principles of Modern Grammar.

This is not a linguistics text, although much of the content has a basis in Morphology and Syntax. (For more information on linguistics, begin here: Linguistics.)

As a grammar text, we have developed the content for English majors and Education majors, in particular,  but also, more generally, for writers (professional, disciplinary, non-fiction, fiction), for teachers (K-12, post-secondary), and for editors.

As a grammar text, the focus is on a surface-level understanding of grammatical features, applied primarily to written text and to the process of writing. This means that our focus is on analyzing "what you see," rather than looking for deep structures more accurately associated with syntax, phrase structure rules, and phrase structure trees. This is not to imply that these syntactical features are not important intellectually, but for the majority of writers and teachers of writing, a surface level analysis will almost always meet your needs.

As a grammar text, our approach is

Analytical - an ability to review and evaluate both simple and and complex written texts with equal facility, articulate your understanding of the text's construction, edit the text appropriately where necessary, and provide justification for your choices.

Descriptive - an ability to describe both simple and complex written texts with equal facility, explain a text's construction, and show how a grammatical problem within the written text is identified and fixed. 

Rhetorical - an ability to recognize grammatical concepts in both simple and complex written texts as they may appear in different rhetorical contexts, choose appropriate grammatical constructions based on an understanding of audience and purpose, and justify a grammatical choice based on sound rhetorical reasoning.

Obviously, these approaches overlap in significant ways; more importantly, these approaches depend on an ever-developing, and sophisticated, understanding of the grammatical concepts defined in this text, as well as on a lifelong commitment to applying this understanding to all written texts you encounter.

As a grammar text, we provide tools for analysis, tools for making good grammatical arguments, tools for recognizing grammatical patterns (and patterns of error) in written texts, and tools for making sound rhetorical choices.

We hope that after working your way through Analyzing Grammar in Context that you will understand how the English language functions in particular contexts and for particular purposes and that you will have developed a clear set of strategies to apply to your writing (writing process) and your teaching of writing in the future.