set of structural rules that governs the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language

In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules governing the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, emantics, and semantics.


  • GRAMMAR, n. A system of pitfalls thoughtfully prepared for the feet for the self-made man, along the path by which he advances to distinction.
    • Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
  • Forming grammatically correct sentences is for the normal individual the prerequisite for any submission to social laws. No one is supposed to be ignorant of grammaticality; those who are belong in special institutions. The unity of language is fundamentally political.
  • I learned how important grammar is, that part of the understanding process is grammatical. That’s how I taught myself to write prose. I kept learning and learning. I’d come into my class and say, “Guess what I found out last night. Tenses are a way of ordering the chaos around time.” I learned that grammar was not arbitrary, that it served a purpose, that it helped to form the ways we thought, that it could be freeing as well as restrictive.
  • Ego sum rex Romanus, et supra grammaticam.
    • I am the Roman emperor, and above grammar.
    • Emperor Sigismund I, in Dictionary of Quotations from Ancient and Modern English and Foreign Sources (1893), p. 78
  • the errors of Grammarians have arisen from supposing all words to be immediately either the signs of things or the signs of ideas: whereas in fact many words are merely abbreviations employed for despatch, and are the signs of other words. And that these are the artificial wings of Mercury, by means of which the Argus eyes of philosophy have been cheated.
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