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Dear Friends:

Some days ago, I was at a workshop for teachers of English held by the institution I work for. It was my turn to teach an imaginary class for about 15 minutes, then I would receive suggestions on what I could improve. And during the suggestion session, a colleague commented that I wrongly said "grammatical mistake" when I should have said "grammar mistake". (The funny thing was that at the end he confessed he wasn't sure either). So that's why I'm coming to you. I tried to find the answer on my own but I didn't have much success.

I would really appreciate if someone could tell me the correct answer to this question.

Thank you very much for your time.
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Englishteacher33And during the suggestion session, a colleague commented that I wrongly said "grammatical mistake" when I should have said "grammar mistake".
If this sort of trivial comment was the only suggestion for improvement that you received, then you must be doing very well indeed. Emotion: smile

Did the imaginary class have a say? Emotion: smile

I see nothing wrong with either way of referring to a mistake in grammar.

CJ
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CalifJim
Englishteacher33And during the suggestion session, a colleague commented that I wrongly said "grammatical mistake" when I should have said "grammar mistake".
If this sort of trivial comment was the only suggestion for improvement that you received, then you must be doing very well indeed.

Did the imaginary class have a say?

I see nothing wrong with either way of referring to a mistake in grammar.

CJ
You're right in saying that the comment was trivial, and quite out of place I might add. But I did receive respectful suggestions from my supervisor.

Now, coming back to my question again, in the phrase "grammar mistake" I understand that "grammar" is a noun with an adjectival function modifying the head noun "mistake", and in the phrase "grammatical mistake" I understand that "grammatical" is an adjective modifying the noun "mistake". So my confusion is more semantic than grammatical. Is there any difference in meaning if I use one or the other alternative? Is one of them plain wrong?

Thank you for your comment CJ.
Englishteacher33Is one of them plain wrong?
I wrote above I see nothing wrong with either way of referring to a mistake in grammar. Is there something about that that you don't understand?

Englishteacher33Is there any difference in meaning if I use one or the other
None at all.

CJ
Well, 'grammatical' is an adjective meaning 'of or pertaining to grammar', whereas 'grammar' in this case is a classifier indicating the type of 'mistake'. Thus, both ways are correct.
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Firstly, I am not a native speaker of English but I am doing general Linguistics. Here is my thought for your reference:

a. GRAMMATICAL as an adjective can mean something relating to grammar as well as modifying a sentence that is constructed according to grammatical rules. So we can say a sentence is or is not grammatical. In this sense, it may be not appropriate to say a MISTAKE is grammatical or grammatical mistake, which sounds like 'correct mistake', although the sentence is grammatical (but not semantically or pragmatically appropriate). However, we do say 'grammatical rules/sentences/phrases/usage', etc..

b. 'Grammar' as a noun sometimes can function as an adjective to express something is relating to or within the area of grammar, e.g. grammar acquisition, grammar learning, just like the word 'London' in 'London University', the word 'book' in 'book recommendation'.

I hope it helps.