April 18th, 2013
I almost NEVER teach grammar explicitly (directly). I believe that MOST of the time, but not all the time, you can learn most grammar rules through being exposed to proper grammar.
I remember when I was studying “how humans learn language” when I was in university. It was a 4th year psychology course. The thing is that humans have a special part of the brain that can learn grammar rules automatically, without having to study them directly. That is why native speakers who never went to school can usually speak in a way that that is mostly “grammatically correct”. It’s not always true, but it’s true most of the time.
I don’t even “know” all the grammar rules. I don’t think about it. I just know what “feels right”. That’s from me being a native speaker and from listening to millions of proper sentences and “getting a feel for what is right and what is wrong”. When I learned Chinese as a second language, I found the same thing. Of course it isn’t as good as my English, but I still have a feel for what sounds right and what sounds wrong. We all have that feeling, we just need to pay attention to it. Studying “verbs, nouns, adjectives, pronouns… is fine sometimes, and sometimes it’s necessary, but there is certainly no need to go overboard”. Not only is it boring to study that stuff too much, but it’s so hard to remember when it’s talked about in that way, AND it’s slow for the brain to use when speaking.
If I always had to think, “I need to do this with a noun and that with an adverb, except in this and that case, it would take FOREVER to write or speak a simple sentence”. I think you get my point.
BUT… Sometimes it can be necessary. I’ve been noticing that many people who write me questions have a really difficult time understanding the differences between “IS and DOES” at the beginning of a question. Native speakers NEVER make this mistake, so it’s important to learn the difference so you don’t look “uneducated”. I don’t mean to sound unkind, but when someone reads that mistake, it looks really really bad.
So here I’m going to explain the difference here: Grammar Lesson – Important Difference Between IS and DOES
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