How to Have Fun With Grammar

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 Have fun with grammar—you must be joking! Google “fun with grammar” and see if you find results that are not related to teaching kids or English language learners grammar. But is it even possible to have fun with grammar?

Whether you can have fun with grammar depends on your definition of  grammar and your purpose for having fun. Elsewhere, we define grammar as the “structure of a language.” Games can help teach the rules we need to communicate, but once we know the structure of the language, all language games are grammar games.

How We Define Grammar

The visible elements of a language’s structure are its grammar, which we often refer to as rules. Many people believe that using good grammar merely involves following the rules, but understanding why the rules are in place and how to apply them is just as crucial.

Grammar is divided into two primary categories: syntax (sentence structure) and semantics (the meaning that words convey). 

The study of syntax includes the analysis of sentence construction, word order, and the principles governing how words are joined to produce phrases and sentences. It is a crucial component of language that aids in our comprehension of how meaning is expressed via words.

Punctuation is an aspect of syntax. It aids a reader’s understanding, and to do so, punctuation needs to be used consistently. Therefore, we need to follow “rules.”  Punctuation is not used in speaking (except “air quotes”), but syntax is.

Semantics is the other crucial component of language. It deals with the meaning of words and how they are used in context. It is closely related to syntax, since the way words are arranged in a sentence can greatly impact their meaning. Not following grammatical rules, such as subject and verb agreement, distracts from effective communication. 

The Purpose of Grammar Games

Most grammar games are teaching tools. They can be used to teach concepts or reinforce them. Some games do a little of both, especially if done in groups. Hangman, for example, reinforces spelling for those players who know a word, while other players might learn a word they haven’t encountered before.

Flashcards work in a similar way—players use them to learn words, and later repetition reinforces learning. Mad Libs teach or reinforce parts of speech. Other games can emphasize sentence structure, vocabulary, or parts of speech. Teachers also utilize online grammar games, especially in the lower grades. 

Whether they use whole class, small group, or individual games, teachers use them to teach, reinforce learning, and break the monotony of grammar lessons.

Why All Language Games are Fun with Grammar Games 

Since all languages have a grammar, all language games you enjoy are fun grammar games. This is true whether you play Scrabble or Boggle, or do crosswords or word searches. Anytime you play with language, you are playing with its grammar.

The German philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein coined the term language-game (Sprachspiel), which refers to the idea that all language is a game. The meaning of words depends on how they are used. A word such as “water” has a variety of definitions, but what definition we intend depends on how we use the word. If I am thirsty, I might say, “I need water.” If the plants are thirsty, I will water them. A person wandering the desert might yell, “Water!” But “Water!” can also be a warning.

Wittgenstein’s concept of language-games and its influence on lingustics and philosophy are worthy of an in-depth exploration outside the scope of this short article. 

Is There Any Demand for Fun With Grammar?

A recent examination of search phrases related to the numbers that follow. The number shown is how often searchers have searched Google using the phrase in a month.

  • Have fun with grammar (0)
  • Grammar fun (170)
  • Funny grammar jokes (70)
  • Grammar games online for free (70)
  • Fun grammar books (30)
  • Funny grammar gifts (20)
  • Fun grammar test (10)
  • Grammar fun for middle school (0)
  • Grammar funny meme (0)

The majority of search results lead to teaching-related sites, which is not surprising.

Here’s a surprising fact–seventy people a month search for “Gramer Funeral Home,” which has two locations in Michigan.

You can find ideas for games in Fun With Words Games to satisfy your inner grammar nerd.

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