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Answers to commonly asked questions about grammar

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What do you wish you knew about grammar?

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Grammar can be a challenging part of English language learning, so what are some ways to improve your grammar? Christopher Lynch from Trinity College in Melbourne, Australia answers grammar-related questions from the Learn English community.

What is grammar?

Christopher Lynch says that grammar can be defined "lots of ways". The easiest way is to think of grammar as "the order of words — like what comes first? What comes second? Where do the words go?"

When you set out to learn grammar, it’s important to remember its purpose: to help us understand one another.

How can I improve my grammar?

According to Christopher, reading and listening to radio stations, such as Radio National, are great ways for your brain to absorb grammar.

Secondly, Christopher says it’s important to use and learn grammar "in context". He advises students to "read books about topics that you love rather than reading for just study purposes."

In addition, using social media or joining 'meet up' groups are also ways to "use language in context". Christopher recommends meeting and talking to people based on shared interests, rather than just a desire to study.

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Can you learn grammar from other students who are also learning English? Christopher Lynch says you definitely can.

Unsplash CC: Eunice Lituañas


Thirdly, learning grammar doesn’t mean that students can only learn from experts. As a teacher, Christopher has observed students who "are worried about learning from movies or other students whose first language is not English."
That approach, however, may mean that learners miss out on a valuable learning opportunity:

Fourthly, knowing a grammatical rule doesn't mean that you understand how to use it. Students have to be willing to practise grammar in their speaking and their writing.

"Being willing to make mistakes is a huge part of learning," says Chris.

What should I do when I make a grammatical mistake?

When students make grammatical mistakes, Chris's advice is:

Being aware of your mistakes means "consciously noticing" where and when you are making these mistakes. And "if someone marks your writing or gives you feedback, record it. Start recording all your errors," Chris recommends.

Additionally, English language learners should remind themselves that native speakers — in any language — can also make grammatical mistakes. So it is understandable if students make mistakes as well.

Learn English Hacks is a Facebook Live series featuring Australian teachers where they discuss challenges learners face and how to overcome them. For more information, visit our Learn English Facebook page.