Jason Bassford Supports Monica
I am a freelance editor and a member of Editors Canada. Previously, I was a technical editor at the software company VMware. Before that, I was a senior technical support engineer at VMware.
Language has two important aspects that work together in order to convey comprehension.
Syntax deals with sentence construction and semantics involves meaning. Each informs the other to some degree, but they can also stand apart.
Because of this distinction, I can say that something is syntactic but ambiguous:
They are cooking apples.
Is it a group of people preparing apples to eat or is it a description of apples meant for cooking?
I can say that something is syntactic but nonsensical:
Colourless green ideas sleep furiously.
And I can say that something is asyntactic but comprehensible:
All your base are belong to us.
I can haz cheezburger?
When people use the word grammatical, I've found that what they often mean is syntactic. However, I've also encountered situations where people will mean semantic, arguing that something is grammatical because it's used and understood—even if it goes against common so-called rules of grammar and lexicography.
This distinction can also shift from one discussion to the next, where somebody will change their usage of the word depending on their agreement or disagreement with something that they've heard.
As such, if you're going to be precise, it's sometimes best to not say grammatical at all but use the specific language words for what you're trying to convey.
- English Language & Usage 29.4k 29.4k 44 gold badges3939 silver badges7373 bronze badges
- English Language Learners 27.7k 27.7k 22 gold badges3636 silver badges5858 bronze badges
- Meta Stack Exchange 6.7k 6.7k 55 gold badges1616 silver badges2929 bronze badges
- Writing 2.1k 2.1k 55 silver badges1616 bronze badges
- Super User 211 211 22 silver badges99 bronze badges
- View network profile →
Top network posts
- 173 Monica's situation continues unresolved. Is SE hoping the problem just goes away?
- 168 Stack Overflow is doing me ongoing harm; it's time to fix it!
- 80 Congratulations to our 29 oldest beta sites - They're now no longer beta!
- 77 Why do people say "I am broke" instead of "I am broken"?
- 77 Is there an English equivalent for "Les carottes sont cuites", while keeping the vegetable reference?
- 75 "My colleague's body is amazing"
- 73 Why is “deal 6 damage” a legit phrase?
- View more network posts →