English grammar: an introduction

Over the summer I attended a New Testament Greek class. It’s been great fun to be geeky about Greeky grammar with like-minded individuals. Of the eight of us, there were quite a few languages represented. My chum has a Polish background, there was someone who had studied Hebrew, another had some Latin and someone else had dabbled in a little Arabic. In the last lesson yesterday, our tutor, an enterprising Oxford Theology undergraduate, let us loose on translating verses from the Bible. In pairs, we puzzled out all the elements of grammar she had taught us; tenses, genders, cases, exceptions to the rules and so we creaked our way through the actual text rather than the practice sentences that had been used to demonstrate the point we had been learning.

Grammar provides the scaffolding for building sentences. English grammar has its pitfalls – and because I hear so many mistakes made in the British media these days – I am going to write a series of short posts on correct usage. Shockingly, basic mistakes are not only made in speech when one might be forgiven for speaking quickly or forgetting what one has said at the beginning of a long sentence, I see these mistakes in print, too.

The first post to be published shortly will be on when to use ‘I’ and ‘me’.

I know, I know. It seems elementary, dear Watson, but clearly not so simple because so many people get it so wrong. So frequently, in fact, that I cannot stay silent on the subject any longer.

6 thoughts on “English grammar: an introduction

  1. I’m suitably excited about these forth coming topics, and maybe suggesting topics, i’m forever at uni being picked up for my grammar, but no one ever seems to want to explain how to do it right just that I am doing it wrong!

  2. I would be delighted to have these short posts. I’m well aware I am not good at explaining to some of my students (who are still struggling with capital letters and full stops at 16+) why I don’t like their sentences.

    It was the peril of being at school in the 1970s. Grammar was only really taught in my French and Latin lessons, not in English.

    Welcome back, by the way!

  3. Crumbs. I hope I am worthy of a few pompoms, Jackie. And Surfing… I was originally thinking of having a rant about the parlous state of grammar today but if you would like to suggest topics that you need help with I will do my best to help. Japes: I’m afraid your comment has depressed me. I cannot believe that people aged 16+ cannot get to grips with capital letters and full stops (unless they are Special Needs students, perhaps?) I too was in the trendy school system of the 1970s but, fortunately, I took French, Latin and German (in that order) which is where I learned most of my grammar.

    I am writing this series for my work blog. The topics won’t be in any particular order rather based on bloopers I happen to see or hear as I pootle about in my everyday life.

  4. I have to say, it depresses me too! But, let me reassure you, I work with our Foundation Learners, most of whom have come out of secondary school will no qualifications at all. For a variety of reasons ranging from bunking school, to illness, to bullying issues, to moving around a lot to this is their level, and they may never improve.

    I’m with the lowest level groups this year, and the main students I support try incredibly hard, but find even the simplest of sentences a real struggle. If by the end of the year, the student who I’m with for most of the time can write correctly, and unaided, three or four simple sentences with the appropriate capital letters and full stop, I will be utterly delighted!

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