Descriptive & Prescriptive Grammar

Topics: Linguistics, Grammar, Syntax Pages: 7 (490 words) Published: October 2, 2014


TSL 3083 Teaching Grammar in Primary School

Descriptive grammar

Descriptive grammar refers to the structure of a language as it is actually used by speakers and writers of the native speaker.  Descriptive grammars describe how people use spoken and
written language and the knowledge that they use to decide
whether something is grammatically correct.
 Specialists in descriptive grammar (linguists) study the rules or patterns that underlie our use of words, phrases, clauses, and sentences.

Descriptive grammar

• Helps learners to improve their pronunciation
and they start to sound like a native speaker.
• When the learners talk with a native speaker,
they will not get confused because of the
difference in the usage of the language.


• Descriptive grammar does not deal
with what is good or bad language
use; forms and structures that might
not be used by speakers of Standard
English would be regarded as valid
and included.

Descriptive grammar

• It is difficult for teachers to decide
which dialect, which usage of a
language to teach. Even if the
teacher choose the most used dialect
of the target language, pupils will
have difficulty in communicating with
a native speaker from a different
part of the country.

Prescriptive grammar

Prescriptive grammar is a set of rules and examples dealing with the syntax and word structures of a language, usually intended as an aid to the learning of that language.
 It refers to the structure of a language as certain people think it should be used.
 It prescribe the rules of a language.
 Prescriptive grammarians, such as most editors and teachers, layout rules about what they believe to be the “correct” or “incorrect” use of language.

Prescriptive grammar
Rules provide a
standard form of a
language that is
accepted by most
speakers of that

A set of standard rules
is necessary for
students learning
English as a second

Social reasons


• Prescriptive rules allows a speaker to be
understood by the greatest possible number of
• This important for a language such as German,
which has dialects so different from one
another that their speakers cannot always
understand each other.

• Guidelines for learning language, English.

• The existence of prescriptive rules allows a
speaker of a nonstandard dialect to learn the
rules of the standard dialect and employ them
in appropriate social circumstances.

Prescriptive grammar


Teaching prescriptive grammar is more helpful
for both non-native teachers and learners. It has
certain rules of language which reduces
confusion and ambiguity among students.

If the prescriptive grammar is taught, learners
will be confused when they talk with a native
speaker. They will realize that natives do not use
the rules in the grammar books.

Prescriptive grammar helps to draw a
language system in their mind, this certainly
makes learning the language easier for them.

Learner will get bored of learning
grammar rules all the time, because
prescriptive grammar mostly deals with

Prescriptive grammar teaching creates
better writers.

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