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My goal in studying modern grammar has been to improve my ability to communicate (both verbally and in writing). I am having a problem in that no matter what I study, I cannot help going down linguistic rabbit holes. I might be simply trying to understand what a verb is, but it can end up taking me months because of all the different aspects of verbs that I find to be necessary to understand the concept from a linguistic standpoint.

Does anyone have advice on whether linguistic understanding is helpful for my current goal?

Is there a more practical way to utilize modern grammar?

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    Most native-speaking Anglophones communicate reasonably happily and clearly without ever having heard of Pullum, Quirk, McCawley.... – Edwin Ashworth Nov 21 '19 at 14:29
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    @Englishmonger Why is it off topic here? This is a site for linguists! – Araucaria - Not here any more. Nov 21 '19 at 14:39
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    @ 0Kk 41.Your question does not show that your English is bad.How can you write such a big question without knowing the different shades of a verb?.If you want to be an expert in Lingjuistics and want to become a good speaker and writer , the study of linguistics will surely help you realize your dream – successive suspension Nov 21 '19 at 15:02
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    @EdwinAshworth People should stop misinforming readers to the tune that EL&U isn’t for linguistics questions (albeit English related ones). That kind of misinformation is harmful. I don’t care either way about whether this q remains open. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Nov 21 '19 at 21:28
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    @Englishmonger People should stop misinforming readers to the tune that EL&U isn’t for linguistics questions (albeit English related ones). That kind of misinformation is harmful. Kindly refrain from giving that impression. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Nov 21 '19 at 21:30
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TL;DR - To get better at not sounding foreign in English, first, by far, emphasize quantity of practice, speaking/listening.reading/writing English. Then learn rules about how to form sentences/phrases properly. And then learn principles of general linguistics. Once you have a proficient ability in a language the great majority of getting better is masses of vocabulary and idioms, followed by slow incremental improvement of accent.


I think you are really looking for how to speak/write English with fewer errors or to get across ideas in English like a native speaker does, with all the idioms and shortcuts that native speakers use.

This is a matter of language learning.

Children learn a language pretty well before even starting formal education. Sure, they may not be proficient in learning the future perfect, but they have the accent down perfectly and know when to use 'a' and 'an', though they may not be aware of what exactly the rule is.

It's more difficult for adults to learn a foreign language and one method to help is learning rules explicitly. It gives a mental framework for producing grammatical patterns when you just don't have enough repetitive experience to make it stick naturally.

But linguistics is a theoretical enterprise. It studies how languages in general work and how to help formulate patterns that all languages have and patterns that one language may have that others don't.

Linguistics is certainly relevant, to help you formulate rules you can remember to apply deliberately. You don't want to ignore it. But it is not the first thing you want to use when learning a language.

And specific rules for English grammar (which are sometimes learned in a general linguistics course) are very helpful for producing accurate English. But you will probably get better with more mundane things like practice, or listening/reading a lot and absorbing rules implicitly.

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  • @ Mitch.I can not expect a better answer for a question of this kind.I am upvoting your answer – successive suspension Nov 21 '19 at 16:37
  • @Englishmonger How can you upvote an answer for a question you have already clearly said is clearly off-topic? – Edwin Ashworth Nov 21 '19 at 17:18
  • @ Edwin Ashworth. This type of questions are usually asked on Linguistic stack exchange.Sometimes, they are migrated to the sister sites by the moderators.If I had asked the question myself, it would have been onhold now.Anyhow, Mitch gave a good answer and upvoted it.Do you really believe that the question belongs in the site? – successive suspension Nov 21 '19 at 17:36

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