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March 16, 2009 | by  | in Opinion |
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why am has grammerz? LOL

What is grammar and why do we need it?

Why exactly would you want to learn this boring stuff anyway? Well you’re at university, and academic writings are expected to be legible. Also, to keep people like me happy. Every time I find a misplaced apostrophe or some DAMNED double spacing, a part of me dies. The only thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that I can correct bad grammar, and the faint hope that I may be able to make a difference. I’m kind of like Jack Bauer, if he had a red pen instead of a gun, and enjoyed correcting graffiti on bathroom walls instead of saving the world from the latest terrorist attack. Salient production night is my 24. We’re called grammar sticklers, I think. And the more you continue to use terrible grammar, the more likely someone from one of many online groups dedicated to upholding the laws of grammar will take a photo of your mistakes and post it online for everyone to laugh at. Be warned…

You might think that you don’t know grammar or don’t need to, but the truth is, if you’ve made it this far (in life and into this article), you already know lots. Grammar is what enables you to derive meaning from words, which everybody learns when they’re just a baby. A single word might indicate an object, action or idea, but when we pile words into a sentence, how is it that our brains derive a greater meaning from it?

Apart from actually recognising a word by how it sounds or looks, the meaning that comes from a collection of words—a sentence—is all thanks to grammar. We can’t just throw a random collection of words together and always expect to get meaning out of it. The meaning is discovered through grammar—having the words in the right order (syntax) and the right form. This is what we learn growing up (or even if you learn a foreign language).

The problem many people have with grammar nowadays is when it comes to writing—our infant brains have only picked up on what sounds right. But when it comes to the written word, there are many grammatical rules that come in addition to our subconscious understanding of language. Rules like spelling and punctuation. But let me teach you why syntax is important.

Let’s say you want to form a very basic sentence: Two kittens torture a nasty pirate.

‘Two’ and ‘kittens’ belong together, in that order, to show that there are two kittens. This forms the first position of this sentence, or the subject.Following the subject is the verb, the ‘doing’ word. Verbs are usually actions, and follow the subject to show that it is the subject doing the verb.

Finally we have ‘a nasty pirate’ in the third position of the sentence, or the object. The object of a sentence is the recipient of the verb—the nasty pirate is the one being tortured, not the two kittens.

Subject, verb, object.

This order is very important to get the correct meaning from the sentence. If we change the order of the words, the meaning is either altered or lost.

Nasty torture two a pirate kittens.

Think about this:
How does the verb change if there is only one kitten? How many ways could you turn the sentence into a question? Let’s say you want to use the adverb ‘slowly’ to describe the verb. Where are the two places in the sentence you could put it?

It pays to question language and to play around with it. Think: Why does the apostrophe go there? How could I say this differently? What happens if I change this part of the sentence? Why does that happen?

You’ll be amazed at what you learn by asking simple questions like these.

Well, if grammar is something that amazes you.

Questions about grammar?
Email me at mikey@salient.org.nz.

Approved reading:
Books, books, always books!
Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss.

Disapproved reading:
The ramblings of a prepubescent emo blogger.
Text message speak.
Music reviews.

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About the Author ()

Mikey learned everything he knows about English Grammar in an MSN chat room when he was 13. Believing that people don't say "LOL" enough in everyday conversation, he has made it his mission to teach the world about grammerz one person at a time.

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