I have been told by more than one bookseller that, here in China, so far as books on English are concerned, grammars sell better than other kinds of books except readers and dictionaries. And it seems to me that nearly every Chinese who learns English at all reads a grammar. I myself am a serious student of grammar; I have read I cannot tell how many English grammar books, by Chinese, English, American, Japanese, Danish and Dutch authors, and am always on the look-out for new ones.
The object of this article, however, is to advise you not to devote too much time to the study of grammar. I study grammar for grammar’s sake, but I do not think every student of English should do so. You study English in order to be able to make practical use of it. This object isno to be attained by mere study of grammar. I do not even think I should now beable to write such simple English as that of this book if I had read nothing but grammars.
语法告诉你一些规则，一些例外，也许还有一些习语，可是词的正确使用不仅限于此。举个例子，语法有种现象叫双重宾语，如可以说He gave her a pen. 但是要是说 He introduced her a friend（这句中her和friend 好像构成双重宾语）就错了。事实是这样的：introduce不能带双重宾语，但是这一点不能在语法中学到，只能从仔细阅读中学到。许多中国的学习者写出可能被某条语法规则证明为对的但必然是错的句子。
Grammar tells you some general rules, some exceptions to rules, and perhaps some idioms. But the correct use of English is not a mere matter of such. For example, grammar has what is called the double object, as in “He gave her a pen”; but it would be wrong to say “He introduced her a friend”, in which “her” and “friend” seem to form the double object. The fact is that “introduce” cannot take the double object; but this point is not to be learnt from grammar but only from careful reading. Many Chinese students write sentences that might be justified by one grammatical rule or another but are certainly wrong.
I believe you have already read a few grammars, and probably have spent a great deal of time on the subject, though you may not now be able to write anything — say a short letter — grammatically perfect. Grammar may help you to use English, but only to acertain extent. Do not look on the study of grammar as all or nearly all that you have to do in order to master English. Careful reading and constant practice are far more important.