The G word. It’s like a nightmare. Whenever I start my lesson and say that today we’re going to focus on grammar, most of my students look as if they’ve just eaten a lemon. Grammar is hated. Nobody likes it. Or at least almost nobody. What’s more, many of my students believe that grammar is only a torturing tool in the hands of their teacher, and apart from tests and exams it’s neither necessary, nor useful.
The argument I hear most often is: “OK, I don’t know the English grammar but I still communicate with English speakers successfully. And they understand me perfectly!” Well… what can I say to that. Of course you can communicate with native speakers using almost no grammar at all. “Where bus stop?” “What time now?” “How much chicken?” “I Wrocław and you London?” “I no hungry.” etc. etc. Many our fellow countrymen – emigrants speak like this when they go to the UK to work there. Their language competence is often zero, but they survive somehow. And here my conclusion – you must answer this basic question – what do you need English for? Why are you learning it? To speak something that resembles English, but whenever you open your mouth and produce something that is supposed to be English, the native speaker looks confused or amused? OK. They will understand something, maybe. But is it really what we need nowadays? Is it really enough? When someone says in Polish: “Ja nie wiedzieć gdzie ja być i nie wiedzieć co mieć robić.” you will surely understand it. But does it sound right? Nope. And that’s it.
So this is my first argument to defend the hated G word. And another one is even more crucial, I think. Grammar is NOT something artificial with no meaning at all. On the contrary, it is dradfully meaningful! The grammar tense you use, the article, the prepositions, even punctuation carries enormous amount of information and meaning. Using it wrongly you can make a fool of yourself or even kill someone! Examples? Here you are. You, a Polish boyfriend, speak to an English girlfriend on an Internet chat. She hasn’t seen you yet and asks you to describe your appearance. And you say: “I have a long black curly hair.” ‘OMG!’ – she thinks and logs out. Why? Because after what you have said to her she imagines yourself like this:
The reason? Grammar! And more precisely, the article ‘a’ used wrongly. If you said ‘I have long black curly hair’ this story would probably have a happy ending, as she would imagine you like this:
Other examples? Here you are! Past tenses – why do we need to know the difference between Past Simple and Past Continuous? Well, you might become a cannibal if you mix it up. Have a look:
We were having friends for lunch. (it means you were eating your friends!)
We had friends for lunch. (it means your friends visited you for lunch)
So don’t eat your friends – use past tenses properly!
Another example – the difference between YOUR and YOU’RE:
No comment is necessary here, is it?:)
Even punctuation (so all these tiny signs like , : ; ‘ . ) might change meaning or kill:
“After rotting in the cellar for weeks…” – it means it was your brother who was rotting in the cellar, not the oranges he brought. So if you want to say that oranges were rotting, you must use the other option. You can’t skip the subject.
Here a single full stop after ‘hunting’ would make the hunters hunt animals not people:)
Yep. If you don’t want to be a psycho, put a comma after cooking and family.
Can you see the difference between the two sentences? Well, the feminists certainly can:)
Well, the author of this notice definitely spends more time at a gym than with his English grammar book:)
I hope these examples are convincing enough for you. So to finish the topic – one more picture. Treat it as an epilogue…
Pictures sources: ryjbuk.pl; www.discinsights.com; www.thehairstyler.com; baloo-baloosnon-politicalcartoonblog.blogspot.com; granthammatters.co.uk; www.someecards.com; www.someecards.com; 4gfc.wordpress.com; imgur.com; thegapster.co.uk; thegapster.co.uk; vuible.com