Grammar and syntax are closely related concepts, both in written and spoken language. The terms are often used interchangeably, although each concept has its own meaning. Syntax is the arrangement of words and phrases in a sentence. Comparatively, grammar consists of the rules that govern the composition of language. As such, the relationship between grammar and syntax is similar to that of parent and child, with grammar providing the structural rules that syntax and other concepts must follow.
In terms of etymology, or the origins of a word, the term syntax is derived from the Greek and Latin words syntaxis, meaning putting together in an arranged order. Likewise, the word grammar is derived from the Greek term grammatike tekhne, defined as the art of words or letters. Understanding these origins, the relationship between grammar and syntax could be explained as the art of language, meaning grammar, and how it is arranged, meaning syntax. Although the term grammar was present in ancient Latin and Greek cultures, the understanding of grammar as a set of rules pertaining to syntax did not begin until the 16th century. Prior to the 16th century, the term grammar merely applied to learning in general, with syntax covering any type of order or arrangement.
Today, syntax and grammar are understood to mean the rules governing proper sentence structure. For example, when an individual references a person and themselves, an English phrase such as me and him might be used. According to syntax, me and him is an acceptable order of words. It makes logical sense, whether ordered as me and him or him and me. Rules of English grammar, however, dictate that such a phrase should be worded as him and me, so that both pronouns are objective, with the personal pronoun me ordered last.
As an area of study, modern grammar encompasses the rules and structural requirements for numerous concept areas and parts of language, including syntax. Specifically, grammatical study involves areas such as morphology, phonology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and phonetics. Each concept area must follow specific rules regarding structure, punctuation, spelling, word use, the order of words, tense, and other linguistic constraints. Studying grammar and syntax involves learning the rules and understanding how the proper, grammatically correct order of words fits into the larger picture of natural language. Naturally, to study grammar is to study syntax and other concept areas in an effort to understand the proper application of grammar rules to each concept area.