Grammar: Prescriptive vs. Descriptive

Prescriptive grammar is how language should be used. Prescriptive is the set of rules one ought to follow when speaking a language. The main structures are used to help people learn the language and are taught in English classes. Prescriptive grammar determines whether or not a person is speaking in a proper manner based off of the created guidelines. This consistent form makes sure the language doesn’t change too fast and unifies the culture. When one follows prescriptive grammar, in both written and spoken presentations, the language may appear to be formal. Simply, it tells one what kind of language to avoid; critically, some rules are actually vital for communication and comprehension.

Prescriptive Rule. Capitalize the first letter of a sentence.

Ex. I am stronger than he is stronger.


Descriptive grammar is how language is used. It is a study of the spoken language and a creation of observations about how it is actually utilized in everyday life. Descriptive grammar focuses on speech production and thought processes. It is not about the right form of a sentence, but the cause of the deviation from prescriptive grammar. The usage may be correct or it may not. It is the accepted manner of speech during that time. This form is based off of patterns of human speech, and changes constantly. For example, with new technological advances texting language has been incorporated into speech and messaging, such as “lol”.

Descriptive Rule. End a sentence with a preposition.

Ex. I am stronger than him.


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