How Many Grammar Rules Are There in the English Language?
How many grammar rules are there in the English language?
It’s like asking how many words are there in the English language. It’s not an easy number to calculate and it depends who you ask.
Estimates range from 500 to 10,000, but for practical purposes, we can say that there are about 3,500 grammar rules.
This estimate comes from David Crystal, the man who created the index for the grammar reference book: A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, by Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech & Svartvik.
The exact number doesn’t really matter to the English language learner. Even a few hundred rules would be too many rules to remember. How do you remember all those rules?
If you asked any native English speaker to tell you how many grammar rules they knew, they would likely say, “None!” Because the truth is that you cannot think about grammar rules and speak at the same time. It’s impossible! It’s just not the way our brains work.
So why do English schools teach grammar to English language students? Because that’s what they’ve always done. They are stuck using an old approach that has never really been very effective. But the grammar-based teaching system is so entrenched in education that academics are blind to other possibilities.
A teacher could say that grammar is important for high level academic writing. There may be a small bit of truth to that. But very few of us do academic writing at that level. Most of us want to simply learn English for our jobs, to watch English television, to communicate with others in the world, as well as to share our ideas, feelings and experiences.
At All English we take the unconventional approach of teaching you English without grammar. This is the way that every fluent English speaker learns English.
So if someone tells you that the All English method is won’t work because there’s no grammar, ask them how many grammar rules they know!