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As a not native of English language, I have decided to learn English grammar & usage independently, without getting any course. I love EL&U, so I would like to use this site as my main source to do so.

My question is, how can I use this site to learn basic and intermediate English grammar & usage at a structured pace without overwhelming myself? Basically, in what ways can I use this site as a structured learning tool?

  • "I have decided to learn English grammar & usage independently" - you're obviously not going to start from scratch, but this still leaves it open as to what exactly you want to learn. Obscure vocabulary? Subtle nuances of grammar? Pronunciation varieties? All those will be touched on here, but decidedly not structured. If you were looking for a really good unstructured location, ELU would be the first place I would recommend. – Mitch Jan 2 '13 at 20:37
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    This question seems to me to be asking, "How can I use my shoe as a hammer?" (In other words, ELU would be the wrong tool for the job, as others have explained.) – J.R. Jan 3 '13 at 9:52
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When you read or overhear a construction whose meaning you are unsure of, but can make a good guess, write up your tentative analysis and post it on the site as a question. It is important to propose your own analysis and make arguments for it, because it shows research effort on your part and helps you learn better. Hopefully the answers you get will make you reflect and learn better, leading you to more and more sophisticated understanding of English grammar.

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Even if it were possible (which I doubt) I don't think it's a good idea to try and use ELU as a "structured learning tool".

The site itself has no overall "structure" that can meaningfully be mapped to a course of study. About all we've got are tags - which aren't always well-chosen in the first place, and certainly aren't consistently linked to appropriate questions.

I think it would be better to choose some particular introductory text and work through it, using ELU as a resource to help out whenever you come up against something that's not clear. Note that standard ELU "rules of engagement" would still require you to make some effort to resolve any issues by your own efforts before actually asking anything here.

I suppose you could always hang out in chat and ask others to correct you whenever you make some minor error. How well that works might depend on how interesting people find your contributions at the semantic level (and thus, how likely they are to read and respond), but I can't imagine anyone would tell you to "Go away!".

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"I have decided to learn English grammar & usage independently"

You're obviously not going to start from scratch, but this still leaves it open as to what exactly you want to learn.

Do you want to learn obscure vocabulary? Subtle nuances of grammar? Pronunciation varieties?

All those will be touched on here, but ELU is decidedly not structured.

If you were looking for a really good unstructured source, ELU would be the first place I would recommend.

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    One possibility that comes to mind is Carlo could trawl through comments posted by high-rep users looking for usages that are unfamiliar to him. Obviously we all do actually make mistakes, but it seems to me a relatively high proportion of "unusual, but perfectly valid" constructions are used where the writer has time to choose his words, and knows that his primary audience has very good language skills. Not so much "unstructured", as "being thrown in at the deep end". – FumbleFingers Jan 2 '13 at 21:46

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