The School Curriculum and Assessment Authority says the research, being carried out in 10 local authorities, is in response to teachers' requests for more support in explaining grammar to pupils. It wants to find out where particular difficulties lie and if it is worth producing guidance booklets.
Teachers are being asked if they are confident about particular grammatical terms - such as the definition of a modal verb - and whether they would be happy explaining them to pupils.
The London Association for the Teaching of English, however, has advised its members not to take part, and the National Association for the Teaching of English has also expressed disquiet. They fear that the results of the consultation will be hijacked by right-wingers to ridicule teachers and harden up directives on grammar lessons.
John Wilks, of LATE, was worried that the research could be used to force changes in teacher training courses. Anne Barnes, general secretary of NATE, said the terminology of grammar often varied but the important thing was to be confident about grammar itself: "This sort of research is easily misinterpreted." she said.