Improving Writing Skills – The Role of Grammar

Article Posted in: Research Articles

by – M.Rama Priya & Dr. K V Divya
Published in December 2017, Volume III, Issue. XXXV



Research strongly suggests that the most beneficial way of helping students improve their command of grammar in writing is to use students’ writing as the basis for discussing grammatical concepts. Researchers agree that it is more effective to teach punctuation, sentence variety, and usage in the context of writing than to approach the topic by teaching isolated skills. Effective grammar instruction begins with what students already know about grammar, and it helps them use this knowledge as they write. By connecting their knowledge of oral language to written language, teachers can demystify abstract grammatical terminology so that students can write—and read—with greater competence and confidence. Because writing is a complex and challenging activity for many students, teachers should focus on the grammatical concepts that are essential for the clear communication of meaning. The paper aims at teaching grammar concepts to students for improving the writing skills.

Keywords: Research, beneficial, sentence variety, effective, grammar instruction, writing, abstract, written language, isolated skills, researchers, complex.


Grammar forms the complete arrangement of words and sense to any language.  Each language has its own grammar. The native speakers of any language are able to communicate with each other because they know the sentence structures and grammar of that language subconsciously. Likewise, native speakers of English also know it. They understand the different words spoken in different contexts and follow the fundamental rules of grammar so they can put different words and make meaningful sentences. However, while the students of any foreign language including English may be a very good speaker of that language but they should be taught good grammar skills to become good writers. In this paper more efforts are made to emphasize the importance of grammar and to transmit the data of grammar concepts from verbal to that of written language. The knowledge about grammar helps the students to apply their skills in improving the writing skills.This makes the students different from other students and inculcates a spirit of competition and self-confidence among the peer group.

Writing skills play an important role in the process of learning a language effectively and elegantly. Writing skills are hard to adhere and practise. Writing skills can be developed by using correct language and grammar structures, usage of words correctly. Writing skills are a little difficult process to be learnt when compared to the other three skills. It is always very important for the professionals to communicate in the written form. One should have strong grammar skills in order to achieve good writing skills. Let us try to know the importance of learning grammar to develop good writing skills.

What is Grammar?

Grammar means the rules about how to speak and write in a language. The Ancient Greeks used to call it grammatikē tékhnē, the craft of letters. It can have any of these meanings:

  1. The study of a language.
  2. The study of sentence structure.
  3. The system which people learn as they grow up. (Wikipedia)

When we speak, we use the native person’s grammar, or as near as we can. When we write, we try to write with correct grammar. So, speaking and writing a language each have their own style. Research intensely recommends that the utmost favourable technique of serving students’ progress towards their expertise of grammar in writing is to use students’ writing as the source for discoursing grammatical ideas. Most of the Researchers agree that it is further operational to explain punctuation, sentence variety, and usage in the perspective of writing than to apply the methodology of teaching exceptional skills. As students start writing a teacher can start to correct the difficulties that arise in a sentence structure and usage. For this, a teacher who observes his/her students writing some sentences which may have wrong transformers can give a small presentation on this topic. The teacher can use examples from the students’ writing concepts. The teacher then can ask the students to correct on their own. Using this process of teaching and correcting from the writings of the students by themselves will bring up confidence in the students to write more and more innovative and get used to writing on their own deliberately.

Contribution of grammar to improve writing skills:

It is evident that writing is an intricate and interesting pursuit for many students. So the teachers ought to concentrate on the basic grammar topics that are necessary for the pure statement of sense. Beverly Ann Chin, Professor of English, University of Montana states that Research conducted since the early 1960s shows that grammar instruction that is separate from writing instruction does not improve students’ writing competence (Braddock and others, 1963; Hillocks, 1986). In addition, she remarks that research indicates that the transfer of formal grammar instruction to writing is not applicable to larger elements of composition. Through detailed studies of students’ writing, Shaughnessy (1977) concludes that the best grammar instruction is that which gives the greatest return for the least investment of time. She also emphasizes four important grammatical concepts: the sentence, inflexion, tense, and agreement. She recommends that teachers should encourage students to examine grammatical errors in their own writing. She also cautions teachers not to overemphasize grammatical terminology to the damage of students’ capability to recognise and relate the ideas.

Similarly, simple approaches can be made to improve students’ writing. Concepts like parts of speech, Structure of sentences, types of sentences, subject-verb agreement, clauses, phrases, transformation of sentences can help students to improve their writing. These grammar topics should not be limited to the theoretical bases but also make the students formulate them into better writing practices. Rather than dumping all the grammar theories, students should be given more basic and easy ideas of writing effectively. Teachers can concentrate more on sentence based activities and give some hints and ask them to develop a short story using the rules of grammar so far taught to them. By participating in oral and written sentence-combining activities, students better understand the ways in which sentence structure, usage, and punctuation affect meaning.

 After learning the rules of grammar, the students should concentrate on making the sentences more clear and concise as far as possible. Here analogies and one-word substitutes play a major role. Sometimes the sentences or messages may be too long or complicated for others to understand where in the same sentence can be interpreted in different ways. In this context analogies and one-word substitutes may be more useful. The students can be taught one-word substitutes to make them effective writers.

In a classroom consisting of undergraduate students where we take classes, we follow the following process in teaching basic grammar skills to enhance writing skills. We make the students understand writing strategies and apply those by using basic and advanced concepts of grammar where ever it is necessary.

The students should understand the concept of writing. They are taught the basic grammar rules.We identify the topic sentences and master the students in sequencing strategies. The students are taught the formal and informal types of written communication and demonstrate them the synthesis of note taking and note making.

The student is taught grammar theoretically most of the times. This will not help the student to use these rules while speaking or practising .they should be given more and more practice on exercising and even practically. This will help them to understand the use of a correct word in a correct situation.

So, while teaching the rules of grammar there are two approaches a teacher can adopt, namely, the deductive approach and the inductive approach. The deductive approach is teaching through rules. The rule is provided first, by the teacher which is then followed by the provision of examples for the learner enabling the student to imbibe the rules of grammar. On the other hand, an inductive approach involves teaching through examples. Students are provided with several examples from which a rule is inferred. 



The paper presented the importance of grammar for effective communication and argued for the importance of the same at all levels of education. It reiterated the point that grammar cannot be put onto the backburner as it is very crucial for effective communication. It stressed that the best approach has to be adopted bearing in mind the needs of the learners.


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DiStefano, P. & Killion, J. (1984). “Assessing Writing Skills Through a Process Approach.” English Education, 16 (4), 203Ð7.

Hillocks, G., Jr. (1986). “Research on Written Composition: New Directions for Teaching.” Urbana, IL: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading and Communication Skills and the National Conference on Research in English.

Hillocks, G., Jr. & Smith, M. (1991). “Grammar and Usage.” In J. Flood, J. M. Jensen, D. Lapp & J. R. Squire (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Teaching the English Language Arts. New York: Macmillan, 591Ð603.

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National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association. (1996). Standards for the English Language Arts. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

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