LGST 551
Introduction to Legislative Drafting (OCW)


LGST 551
Introduction to Legislative Drafting (OCW)

Study Materials

Module 2: Section 1

Section Preview

What do we need to know about grammar?

Legislative drafting, like any other form of official writing, must respect the standard conventions relating to grammar and usage. There is no special grammar for legislation. The way legislative sentences are structured and the way that words, expressions and parts of speech are used in them must reflect what is generally considered to be correct written English.

At the same time, as we saw in the previous Module, particular approaches have developed as to the way legislative sentences are written. If we are to examine these, we must use the accepted grammatical terminology to describe what is involved (for example noun, verb, adjective, adverb, subject, object, modifier, and so on), and be familiar with the way the concepts they refer to operate in a sentence.

These Materials assume you are already familiar with good grammar and that you write grammatical English. The purpose of this Section is to ensure that you are familiar with the grammatical terminology we use in these Materials. But it may also help you to find out whether you need to do some preliminary work on the subject. This Section also draws attention to some common mistakes. At the end of this section are two appendices containing a Grammar Checklist and a List of Grammatical Terms and Usage.

Section Objectives

By the end of this Section, you should be able to:

  • explain the basic features of grammar and the terms used to refer to them;
  • avoid a number of common errors of grammar.

Essential Questions

This Section is divided into three subsections organised in terms of a series of questions:

  1. Why is grammar important for the drafting?
  2. What grammatical terms do we need to know?
  3. What common grammatical mistakes should we watch for?

Studying this Section

The amount of work you may need to put into this Section will depend upon the extent to which you are competent in correct grammatical forms and in working with written English.

If this subject is largely unfamiliar to you (and this should become clear as a result of Exercise 1), time spent working through an elementary grammar will be fruitful. You will also need to study closely the examples in the List of Grammatical Terms and Usage in Appendix 2 to this Section, which explains the principal terms used in these Materials. You will come across references to grammar and syntax in later Modules. That may be a good time to remind yourself of the appropriate parts of this Module. In that way you can steadily build your familiarity with the conventions.

If you feel that you are already comfortable with sound grammar and the terms used to refer to particular grammatical features, you should be able to proceed quite quickly through this Section. But do not persuade yourself that you are at home with the subject without having first worked on the Section. 

This topic is central to legislative drafting. Drafts containing sensible legal answers are too often spoiled by shortcomings in grammar and syntax.

Skip Table of contentsSkip NavigationSkip Administration