Home > Strategies and Skill Development > Verbal Strategy Families > Grammatical Analysis > Literature Note - Grammatical Analysis

Grammatical analysis is in the first instance about gaining a precise metalinguistic understanding of the structure of a sentence (and hence a precise understanding of what the sentence does and does not mean). In our conception, grammatical analysis is closely related to editing and to careful analysis of sentence meaning. While grammar supports proofreading for prescriptive rules, that is not its primary motivation. The tendency for grammar to be equated with prescription may partly explain why Hillocks (1987) and other reviewers of grammar instruction have concluded that grammar instruction does not improve writing skill, though there is a recent trend, observed in articles such as those by Ehrenworth (2003), Frodesen (2001), Glenn (1995), Martinsen (2000), Noden (1999), Sams (2003), or Weaver (1996), which argues that the fundamental value of grammatical analysis is in providing a metalanguage to communicate about editing decisions, clarity, and style.

Ehrenworth, M. (2003). Grammar—comma—a new beginning. English Journal, 92, 90-96.

Frodesen, J. (2001). Grammar in writing. In M. Celce-Murcia (Ed.), Teaching English as a second or foreign language (3rd ed., pp. 233–248). Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.

Glenn, C. (1995). When grammar was a language art. In S. Hunter & R. Wallace (Eds.), The place of grammar in writing instruction: Past, present, and future (pp. 9–29). Portsmouth, NH: Boynton.

Hillocks, G. (1987). Synthesis of research on teaching writing. Educational Leadership, 4, 71-82.

Martinsen, A. (2000). The Tower of Babel and the teaching of grammar: Writing instruction for a new century. English Journal, 90(1), 122-126

Noden, H. (1999). Image grammar: Using grammatical structures to teach writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Sams, L. (2003). How to teach grammar, analytical thinking, and writing: A method that works. English Journal, 92(3), 57-65.

Weaver, C. (1996). Teaching grammar in the context of writing. English Journal, 85(7), 15-24.

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