What is grammar?

   In a broad sense, grammar is the science of the use of language. Specifically, the grammar of any language is a systematic description of the words composing that language, and of the relations of those words to each other. Orthoepy, the pronunciation of words, and orthography, the spelling of words, belong properly to grammar, but in schools and textbooks it has been found more convenient to treat them in other departments. English Grammar then, as a subject of study, consists usually of three parts; 1, The classification of words; 2. Inflection of words; 3. Syntax, or the relations of words to each other.

   No one of these divisions of grammar can be studied with any degree of completeness by itself, for one must learn something of the relations of words to each other before he can classify them or understand their inflections. Words are classified according to their use in eight groups, called parts of speech. They are the noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, adverb, preposition, conjunction, interjection. Since they are classified according to use, it will be seen—and it is a point to be emphasized —that the same word does not remain always in the same class. Moreover, a group of words, as a phrase or clause, may be used as one word and is then assigned to its particular class as is any single word. Each part of speech must be studied by itself. There are different kinds of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, etc. They possess' certain properties and undergo various changes.

   Inflections are the changes which may be made in the forms of words to modify their meaning. Nouns and pronouns are said to be declined, verbs to be conjugated. Inflection includes both declension and conjugation. English is not highly inflected, that is, the changes of form are few, and are learned easily.

   Syntax is the most important division of grammar. In fact it would not be much out of the way to treat the words as synonymous, and define grammar as the science which treats of the relation of words to each other. Since language is the expression of thought, the sentence—the expression of one complete thought in words— is the basis of language, the basis also of grammar and of syntax. The essential parts of a sentence are subject and predicate. All other parts are modifications of these two. If this fact concerning the sentence is once understood clearly, the seeming complications of syntax are greatly simplified. In the curriculums of our public schools grammar appears from the fifth to the seventh grade and is continued through the eighth grade.