English Grammar

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English Grammar

Post by Amber on Sun Jan 26, 2014 7:12 pm

I used to teach English at various primary schools in Brive which was fairly easy (ignoring the discipline problem!) as there was a curriculum to follow and the text books to help me.

Now, however, I've been giving some private lessons and one such is to an adult who wishes to improve her conversational English. No problem, until she said she wants to improve her use of the Present Perfect. Eh? O.K. we'll do that - before the next lesson a frantic look on the internet for the 'Present Perfect' in the English Language! Grammar was never my strong point at school, even though I got Grade 1 (now known as A Grade) in English Language at GCE.

It illustrated for me the difference between the importance and teaching of correct grammar for the French and the more relaxed teaching of English in the U.K. Maybe that is why modern English grates with me so much, even though I'm not very good at parsing a sentence!

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Re: English Grammar

Post by Higgy on Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:43 pm

My wife a Teacher has recently completed a British Council
Approved TESOL Course through Trinity College Cambridge.

I did not understand the half of it, so best of luck. She is doing
volunteer work to keep her hand in and improve her skills.

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Re: English Grammar

Post by tocyvi on Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:16 pm

Amber wrote:she said she wants to improve her use of the Present Perfect. Eh? O.K. we'll do that - before the next lesson a frantic look on the internet for the 'Present Perfect' in the English Language!

Hi Amber. Am I right in thinking that this is what we called simply the perfect tense as opposed to the imperfect tense? If so, the perfect tense would be “I have walked” and the imperfect would be “I was walking” if my memory serves me correctly.

Amber wrote:It illustrated for me the difference between the importance and teaching of correct grammar for the French and the more relaxed teaching of English in the U.K. Maybe that is why modern English grates with me so much, even though I'm not very good at parsing a sentence!

I agree with the sentiment that grammar is important and should still be taught, but there is a limit. I remember, for example, learning about noun clauses in apposition, something which has proved less than useful throughout my entire life.

There are purists who insist that you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition, but there are times when it is more cumbersome to avoid doing so, than to obey the rule. Churchill’s quote amply demonstrates the point:
“This is something up with which I will not put”.
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Re: English Grammar

Post by Amber on Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:30 pm

Yes, Tocyvi, it is (I can now say that with confidence!).

I quite agree that a certain amount of grammar is very important, if only to teach the basics such as "you were" instead of "you was"  Evil or Very Mad  but 'noun clauses in apposition'.....pardon? scratch 

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Re: English Grammar

Post by tocyvi on Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:45 pm

Amber wrote:I quite agree that a certain amount of grammar is very important, if only to teach the basics such as "you were" instead of "you was"  Evil or Very Mad  but 'noun clauses in apposition'.....pardon? scratch

Hi Amber. Interestingly, "you were" can also be correct, as in (what I believe to be) the subjunctive:
"If you were to agree ......"
but I get your drift.

The only reason I know this (or at least, I think I do!!), is because I'm trying to get to grips with the subjunctive in French, which is used to a far greater extent than in English.

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Re: English Grammar

Post by tocyvi on Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:48 pm

Amber wrote:but 'noun clauses in apposition'.....pardon?

I was entirely in opposition myself
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Re: English Grammar

Post by Amber on Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:51 pm

Oh yes, I see what you mean; as you can probably guess I was thinking of those that use the term in such an example:

"You was brilliant in that play" rather than "You were brilliant in that play"

"If you were to agree with my example I would be happy!"  Very Happy 

I will now disappear to look up examples of the subjunctive in French!


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Re: English Grammar

Post by tocyvi on Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:02 pm

Amber wrote:Oh yes, I see what you mean; as you can probably guess I was thinking of those that use the term in such an example:
"You was brilliant in that play" rather than "You were brilliant in that play"
"If you were to agree with my example I would be happy!"  Very Happy

Further examples of the subjunctive:

Were I to have been brilliant in that play, I should have been better known

Or:

I insisted that he be brilliant in that play

Amber wrote:I will now disappear to look up examples of the subjunctive in French!

When you have done so, I should be delighted if you were to post a short resumé.
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Re: English Grammar

Post by Amber on Wed Jan 29, 2014 6:44 pm

I'm defeated Tocyvi! The best I can come up with as an explanation is what I found here:

http://www.french-linguistics.co.uk/grammar/subjunctive_what_is.shtml

To be perfectly honest I know I'm never going to be anywhere near fluent in French and trying to understand the subtleties of the grammar is not going to happen; life is too short and I'm getting too old!  Laughing As long as I can make myself understood I'm happy with that; perhaps that's a cope out, but too bad!

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Re: English Grammar

Post by tocyvi on Wed Jan 29, 2014 6:54 pm

Hi Amber
Thanks for the link. I had a look and felt more confused than before. Using the subjunctive in French is all the more difficult for us English because it is so very rarely used. Some of my French friends tell me that the French frequently get it wrong as well, so it's hardly a grammatical error of great importance.

On a positive note, learning (or continuing to learn) a foreign language late in life will, apparently, put off the onset of Alzheimer's and I can well believe it. Using those "leetle grey cells" that Poirot went on about, can be tiring after a while but also has some benefits.
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Re: English Grammar

Post by Myriam on Sun Feb 02, 2014 2:56 pm

Perhaps this site is of use to you for the French grammar. I find it very good: http://www.lepointdufle.net/subjonctif.htm.

And this one for the English present perfect: http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/english-grammar/verbs/present-tense/present-perfect.
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Re: English Grammar

Post by Richard T on Sun Feb 02, 2014 7:50 pm

tocyvi wrote:On a positive note, learning (or continuing to learn) a foreign language late in life will, apparently, put off the onset of Alzheimer's and I can well believe it.
Learning another language also helps you understand English a lot better and makes you realise what a beautifully expressive language it is.

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Re: English Grammar

Post by Myriam on Sun Feb 02, 2014 8:05 pm

To be able to understand the grammar in a foreign language, I think you need to understand the grammar of your own language first, at least, it makes it a lot less complicated to learn the rules.
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Re: English Grammar

Post by Amber on Sun Feb 02, 2014 8:33 pm

That's me stuffed then! lol! 

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Re: English Grammar

Post by Richard T on Sun Feb 02, 2014 11:20 pm

Myriam wrote:To be able to understand the grammar in a foreign language, I think you need to understand the grammar of your own language first, at least, it makes it a lot less complicated to learn the rules.
Anyone who speaks a language with any fluency implicitly understands the rules of grammar even if they can't articulate them. But it seems to me that the the teaching of English grammar in British schools leaves a lot to be desired as, in my experience, a surprising number of people don't appear to be able to articulate even basic grammar such as the difference between a noun and an adjective (let alone the definition of a gerund or intransitive verb).

However when you learn a foreign language as an adult you usually need to be able to get a grip with concepts such as different types of past tenses, the agreement of nouns and adjectives, the use of direct and indirect objects etc. in order to progress with your learning. It's at this point that you start applying what you learn, in say, French to your native tongue and hence you start to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of English.

How many monoglot English speakers can recognise the subjunctive tense (or even know of its existence)? Not many I'd wager but show me someone who has studied French to a reasonable level and I'll show you someone who knows exactly what the subjunctive looks like in English.

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Re: English Grammar

Post by Myriam on Mon Feb 03, 2014 1:53 pm

For anyone, like myself  Wink , who is dying to be taught the difference between a gerund and an (in-)transitive verb, here you go:-

http://www.writingenglish.com/verb.htm.

@ Richard: I've seen many students of French as a foreign language and my experience is that they get stuck if they do not have a clue about grammar in their own language, whether it be Dutch or English. But of course there is always the exception, as with all the rules in French!
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Re: English Grammar

Post by Amber on Mon Feb 03, 2014 7:10 pm

Richard, with your talk of gerunds and intransitive verbs you have just raised the spectre of Latin lessons from many years ago!  Shocked 

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Re: English Grammar

Post by Tony H on Mon Feb 03, 2014 7:25 pm

Never even heard of a gerund before... my education must have been lacking. However, on looking it up, I find I have been using it correctly all these years Smile

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Re: English Grammar

Post by simmo on Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:31 pm

Hi
I Think i get your drift. You mean like the english we was taught far oop north in gods country.
Simmo in the High Correze. (Round this neck of the woods the locals still have a crack in the local patious which really blows the folks from Paris mind).

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Re: English Grammar

Post by Richard T on Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:30 pm

Tony H wrote:Never even heard of a gerund before... my education must have been lacking. However, on looking it up, I find I have been using it correctly all these years Smile
Exactly the point I made in an earlier post. Anyone who speaks reasonably well understands grammar instinctively - it's just putting a name to the various bits that people have difficulty with but, as you've discovered, it's actually quite easy. Smile

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