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grammar

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Grammar, rules of a language governing the sounds, words, sentences, and other elements, as well as their combination and interpretation. The word grammar also denotes the study of these abstract features or a book presenting these rules. In a restricted sense, the term refers only to the study of sentence and word structure (syntax and morphology), excluding vocabulary and pronunciation.

A common contemporary definition of grammar is the underlying structure of a language that any native speaker of that language knows intuitively. The systematic description of the features of a language is also a grammar. These features are the phonology (sound), morphology (system of word formation), syntax (patterns of word arrangement), and semantics (meaning). Depending on the grammarian’s approach, a grammar can be prescriptive (i.e., provide rules for correct usage), descriptive (i.e., describe how a language is actually used), or generative (i.e., provide instructions for the production of an infinite number of sentences in a language). The traditional focus of inquiry has been on morphology and syntax, and for some contemporary linguists (and many traditional grammarians) this is the only proper domain of the subject.

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