Friday, 14 August 2015

Do Learn Grammar

Grammar and You

If there’s one thing you don’t like to learn or know about, it’s grammar—be it English or mother tongue. In fact, you’re averse to learning English grammar. Even teachers may not be happy teaching it because you may raise issues for which they may not have ready- made answers. 

What is grammar? You may say it’s a bag full of dos and don’ts. I won’t blame you because that is the impression or feeling every non-native student of English gets or experiences. You’ve learnt the grammar of your tongue right from the time you were in your mother’s womb, you hear it everywhere all the time, you speak and write it all the time. This is not the case with English. Do you hear it used around you—in your home, in your street, in your school, in shops, in public places? No, you don’t, unless you’re in a big city. Yet, English is very important to you for various reasons—they being obvious. You have to learn to use English. How do you do that? From grammar lessons, from English textbooks, from fiction, from films, from TV channels.

Your dislike or hatred for grammar is an unnecessary burden you thrust upon yourself. This is because of the way traditional grammar books have treated grammar and the way teachers have taught them. But there’s no need to look at grammar that way. Hear me out, will you? Thanks.

Grammar is no more than a mirror; it records how people have been using a language they call theirs. I can call to mind two classic examples: 1. The use of plural pronoun ‘they’ for a singular noun like ‘everyone’ and 2. Ending a sentence with a preposition, like for instance, ‘he’s the one you should talk to’.

Today you don’t have to memorise rules and exceptions for you’re not tested on them. Instead you’re tested on how English is used in certain contexts or situations. Grammatical errors are no longer frowned upon, and committing mistakes is no sin; on the contrary it’s the way you learn to get to know to use English.

Grammar is not a villain, it’s a friend, I tell you. For the simple reason, it just provides information on how educated native users use English in speech and writing, how they put nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions in certain ways, how they form sentences and questions, paragraphs, how they use English in formal an informal situations.  

Your mother knows the recipe for idly, dosa, puttu, fish or chicken curry. Suppose you ask her to cook food the Mexican way or the Chinese way, she has to look for a recipe. You know the recipe for how to use your mother tongue. But to use English the English way, you have to look for a recipe. Grammar is that recipe.

Use it, you’ll soon become an international chef! God bless you! 

Please also read 'grammar educates' which you'll find at the bottom of page 5.


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