Grammar Based Foundations

Grammar. It’s a pain in the ass. Under normal circumstances I would have just left it at that, but I feel a certain obligation to pad out the topic and bump up the word count somewhat. It’s not something that comes particularly naturally to me. I assume we were taught it at school, but I have no memory of it, which is a shame as I remember countless hours of Welsh lessons which is of no use to me unless a situation arises where I need to count from one to ten in a language other than English.

I imagine someone who has a better grasp of grammar, and generally more intelligent, would be able to craft a clever post highlighting the ways in which grammar and punctuation can imply various meanings. However I am neither of those people, so instead I’ll just resort to plagiarism and bitching.

As would be expected, grammar has a tendency to crop up quite a lot in writing, especially when you’re not very good at it. In an attempt to address this issue, I’ve invested in a few books and rely heavily on Google to help clear the waters. This can present its own problems though, as it just serves to highlight how little you know about a language you’ve spent the best part of thirty years unknowingly butchering.

Take the book ‘My Grammar and I (or should that be “me”?)’, an incredibly useful reference book, written with a very down to earth view of the complications of English grammar. An example of this is its opening quote: ‘[It is] impossible at the present juncture to teach English grammar in schools for the simple reason that no one knows exactly what it is’ Government Report, 1921.

It makes for a terrible evening read when you’re trying to negotiate sentences such as: ‘A participle is a non-finite form of a verb used with an auxiliary verb to form some compound tenses. It can also be used in noun, adjectival and adverbial phrases.’ Having read this several times I am still no clearer to understanding what exactly it means.

So as much as I try to learn and apply the grammar rules to negotiate this minefield, it’s not helped by the fact that I’m also terrible at spelling. The word ‘grammar’ is used nine times in this post, and I have attempted to spelt it with an ‘er’ for every one of those times. Nothing like building a house on faulty foundations for a long, sustainable future.