One of the Liberal Arts, Grammar was described as the 'learned and articulate voice, spoken in a correct manner', and was traditionally depicted as a sage, or a teacher with a whip for discipline. In the 17th century a new image emerged, showing Grammar as a woman watering plants: "Just as plants are nourished by moderate application of water in succession, in the same fashion, the mind is made to grow by properly adapted tasks."

A grammar is an indispensable reference book for language students, second only to a dictionary. A good grammar should at a minimum contain the following:

Many grammars go beyond this and contain notes on idioms and cultural information.

In most univeristy Classics courses, you are allowed to bring a grammar and a dictionary into the final exam.

My indispensible companions were Allan and Greenough's New Latin Grammar, published by Ginn & Company (original copyright 1888), and Greek Grammar by Henry Weir Smyth, Harvard University Press (original copyright 1920). Both have gone through multiple editions, and both are highly recommended for the study of their respective languages.

In formal language theory, a grammar is a finite set of rewriting rules describing the replacement of strings of symbols with other strings. That is, each rule is given by a pair of strings.

The language generated by a grammar is defined as the set of strings that can be formed by arbitrarily substituting substrings according to the rules, starting from the string consisting of some fixed initial symbol.

Usually, only the strings formed from a designated subset of symbols, the terminal symbols, are counted as part of the generated language; any other symbols that occur in rules are called nonterminals, and strings containing nonterminals are only used as intermediate results. Furthermore, all left hand sides of rules are required to contain at least one nonterminal. These restrictions do not really affect the formalism much.

General grammars are fully expressive (Turing complete) devices to describe languages, and therefore, they are of limited practical value. It is impossible, for instance, to write a program that, given a grammar and a string, tells you whether or not the string can be derived with the grammar.

More restricted forms of grammar exist that, at the expense of some expressive power, do allow systematic parsing of strings; some important ones are given by the Chomsky hierarchy.

Gram"mar (?), n. [OE. gramere, OF. gramaire, F. grammaire Prob. fr. L. gramatica Gr , fem. of skilled in grammar, fr. letter. See Gramme, Graphic, and cf. Grammatical, Gramarye.]


The science which treats of the principles of language; the study of forms of speech, and their relations to one another; the art concerned with the right use and application of the rules of a language, in speaking or writing.

⇒ The whole fabric of grammar rests upon the classifying of words according to their function in the sentence.



The art of speaking or writing with correctness or according to established usage; speech considered with regard to the rules of a grammar.

The original bad grammar and bad spelling. Macaulay.


A treatise on the principles of language; a book containing the principles and rules for correctness in speaking or writing.


treatise on the elements or principles of any science; as, a grammar of geography.

Comparative grammar, the science which determines the relations of kindred languages by examining and comparing their grammatical forms. -- Grammar school. (a) A school, usually endowed, in which Latin and Greek grammar are taught, as also other studies preparatory to colleges or universities; as, the famous Rugby Grammar School. This use of the word is more common in England than in the United States.

When any town shall increase to the number of a hundred families or householders, they shall set up a grammar school, the master thereof being able to instruct youth so far as they may be fitted for the University. Mass. Records (1647).

(b) In the American system of graded common schools an intermediate grade between the primary school and the high school, in which the principles of English grammar are taught.<-- now = primary school -->


© Webster 1913.

Gram"mar, v. i.

To discourse according to the rules of grammar; to use grammar.


Beau. & Fl.


© Webster 1913.

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