Do you read Grammar occasionally?

As we know Words Over Grammar, but this does not prevent you to read them quickly, so do you read your target language grammar occasionally ? And if you do, how many times do you read some of them at least weekly ?

I don’t read them very much, but I do have grammars in my target languages. I used to feel guilty about not using them (and the concomitant workbooks) until Steve relieved me of all that by helping me understand that they’re boring and should be used as occasional reference guides, rather than as things I have to plow through in order to properly “understand” the language.

Since then I buy small, succinct grammar guides and use them sparingly. Works for me.


Right now I’m working my way through two grammar books. Each week, I pick a different topic, read about it, and work through the exercises in the two books. I’m also listening to MP3s that demonstrate these particular areas of grammar and make flashcards with some of the phrases that I think I can work into my conversations.

I know some people feel that doing the exercises is boring and I can understand that completely. However, I feel it really helps to build my confidence. To each his own!


I don’t pay any attention to grammar when I’m reading. It is just too boring for me. I’m afraid I would lose my enjoyment and interest in German and Mandarin.

For two years, I had French in high school. Grammar was a big part of the lessons. It was a bit stressful. Now, I probably don’t even remember a dozen French words. And I certainly don’t remember a single rule of French grammar.

For me, language is just fun. Almost everyday I watch Chinese dramas with Eng Subs. And I want to be able to read novels in Mandarin and German. I can let the novelists worry about their grammar. I just want to enjoy the stories.

Edit: But I can appreciate that if someone wants to speak or write in another language, grammar might be good to know. English is my native language. I can’t really say that I know any English grammar rules, either. At least consciously. Other than when I’ve concluded a thought, I need to put a period.

I love grammar, some years ago I used to spend a few days a week meticulously reading through articles on Spanish grammar (on and from grammar books. These days however I only read up occasionally on grammar. It is quite difficult for me to give a exact number. I have developed a habit of watching grammar videos on YouTube. I find that watching YouTube videos is easier than picking up a book and read through it. Still what I do is that I look up on the internet a comprehensive book on grammar of the languages that I study to use as a reference book. I feel that I found one in Hammer’s German Grammar, they also have similar books for French and Spanish as well as Italian. The German book did cost almost 40 € but at first glance it seems to be worth it.


Fortunately for Korean there are plenty of short “grammar point” lessons available, my favorite being the TTMIK pdfs. I typically read 5/day, 4 or 5 times per week. They go very quickly, and I usually go straight to the sample sentences and try to translate from english to Korean. This makes for a nice little review or reminder.

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not as much i have a couple of grammar books on the shelves and some colloquial phrase books but i never use them much .i can find what i need most of the time on the internet unless it’s a real exotic languagei’m trying to learn

Since I came across videos of professor Steve Krashen, I learn my target language (English) accordind to what he says.

I had not heard of professor Steve Krashen before. I just looked him up and am very inspired by his teaching:

“We acquire language in one way only: when we are exposed to input (written or spoken language) that is comprehensible to us. Comprehensible input is the necessary but also sufficient condition for language acquisition to take place. It requires no effort on the part of the learner.” (The Input Hypothesis)

“Comprehensible input will not result in language acquisition if that input is filtered out before it can reach the brain’s language processing faculties. The filtering may occur because of anxiety, poor self-esteem or low motivation.” (The Affective Filter Hypothesis)

"Free voluntary reading (FVR) is the reading of any book (newspaper, magazine or comic) that students have chosen for themselves and is not subject to follow-up work such as comprehension questions or a summary. Krashen (2003) makes the claim that Free voluntary reading ‘may be the most powerful educational tool in language education’. It serves to increase literacy and to develop vocabulary.

Extensive voluntary reading provides non-native students with large doses of comprehensible input with a low affective filter, and thus is a major factor in their general language acquisition."

When I was in high school, I struggled with English grammar. I was not understanding the rules and quickly gave up trying to learn them. Nonetheless, I am able to speak and write in English.

Yes, he’s great. While others go to church every Sunday, me, I stay home and watch some of his videos (and there is a lot of them).

If the key is “comprehensible input”, consider that a bit of knowledge of the grammar goes a long way towards aiding comprehension – more so with some languages than with others, and in a given language more so with some bits of grammar than with others

Of course, the matter of /how/ one acquires the requisite grammar is up to the individual when outside the classroom. Repeated, repeated, repeated exposure through free reading is one way, I guess. But it seems to me that a little “fertilizing” of the ground with some foreknowledge of the grammar would make that exposure a whole lot more fruitful.

That seems to be Dmitri Petrov’s approach with his 16 lesson language courses – he exposes the basic structure of a language as a firm base from which one could then start productive acquisition of a fuller vocabulary.

I have not used Lingq to start a language new to me. I soaked up most of the Russian grammar I need back in high school. I can’t imagine trying to tackle the language without that grammatical footing, but others who have done so may have opposing experience and opinion. But, as I’ve commented before, I had reached the point where I had more grammar than vocabulary, and it’s not too useful to know how to use words that you don’t know. Lingq has been incredibly useful in closing that gap.


As a follow up on Khardy’s excellent post below, I should add that I have about 5 years of ancient Greek under my belt, in self-study mode, using the much maligned “grammar translation” method. So when I started learning modern Greek in earnest a year or so ago, I already had a very strong foundation in the grammatical structures of Ancient Greek, making the necessity of studying MG grammar somewhat moot.

But, like Khardy said below, I couldn’t imagine jumping into a language like Greek with zero understanding of how the language works, functionally speaking. But I also imagine that having learned a few other languages would help a great deal in assimilating the grammatical patterns.

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One can go about things a number of ways.

I remember my high school English teacher saying something like, “if you don’t learn grammar you won’t be able to go to college.”

I dropped out after 10th grade and did my own thing for about a year then I took my GED and enrolled in college as a philosophy major.

I had a lot of difficulty writing papers my first year. But I still managed a 4.0. And it got easier after that.

I never learned grammar. I know what a noun is but I have no idea what infinitives, participles, adverbs, pre-modifiers, irregular forms… are.

But I can still write a sentence. And I believe one day I will be able to do that in German and Mandarin.

I think the question here, though, is does knowing grammar speed up or slow down the acquisition of another language?

Edit: I don’t know the answer but I believe we learn languages easier through intuition and exposure than through grammar and exposure.

Grammar especially speeds up the process when you are learning a language that greatly differs from the ones that you already know. Exposure is way more important but I wouldn’t count out grammar altogether.

I have never tried the two languages that you’re learning but learning grammar really helped (and still does help) my Russian. However, I didn’t need as much grammar for Spanish.


There’s the question of what we mean when we talk about learning or acquiring grammar, and I’m with you that it doesn’t mean, as a goal, learning the meaning of those terms. Ultimately we all want to be at the point where we don’t think about it, and it just comes naturally. If you’re able to get to that point without knowing the meaning of those parts of speech, you’re still where you want to be, and you know the grammar.

Personally, I think knowing the difference between a participle and a gerund speeded up my ability to know when to use “любящий” (loving) and when to use “любя” (loving). But I’m at the point where I don’t really think about it any more, and, as above, that’s where we want to be, however we get there. It boils down to whats the fastest and/or easiest way for a given learner.

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From time to time I see in the forum similar questions about the Grammar - to learn or not to learn?
Every time it depends on your interest and your needs.
If you are a student of the language and literature department in the university, you have to learn quite deeply the grammar rules of the target language in order to be able to explain them to your future students if they would like to know.
But it’s not the obligation for the people who are interested in the languages not professionally and I never charge my students with the duty of learning by heart grammar rules.
However, if they are interested in some rules or some exceptions from the rules, I always help them.
And finally, it depends on the language as well. I could understand without any grammar rules a lot of content in English, but a bit less in German and French and I can’t now understand anything in Turkish even in the beginner level because this language has absolutely different structures in compare with other European languages, so I have in the moment to stop and to learn something from the Turkish Grammar before going forward.
But in any way, to learn some Grammar mustn’t be a cram!..