Grammar – How to Learn It, Use It and Maybe Even Love It!

If you are one of the many people who have tried out language programs that promise “no pesky verb conjugations or noun declensions” but find yourself wanting to figure out the patterns, you’re not alone! Poor grammar has gotten such a bad rap that a no-grammar approach has become a marketing catchphrase.

How did that happen? Traditionally, language classes have been heavy on grammar and light on verbal application.  This meant little to no time could be spent practicing the language in conversation and so, after years of hard work, we were left with the ability to maybe pass a test and a life-long fear of opening our mouths and speaking. In reaction to this poor approach, more recently, students have been advised to avoid grammar all together. Also not a great idea.

I’m here to tell you with the right approach, the patterns in language (aka grammar) are your short cut to learning. Instead of learning every verb conjugation separately, what if I told you that all verbs in a certain category are conjugated the same way?  That way, you only have to learn one mechanism and apply it to multiple vocab words.  Makes life easier, doesn’t it? Even as we develop language skills in early childhood, we start to look for patterns.  Have you ever noticed toddlers saying “goed” and “buyed” instead of “went” and “bought”?  The reason: they have discovered the most common pattern of forming the past tense is to add -ed and they try it out on all verbs.  They then have to go through the process of discovering that there are a series of irregular verbs and, eventually, they understand that “goed” and “buyed” are actually “went” and “bought”.  This process takes years but, as an adult learner, you can cut through the red tape and get to the bottom of it in one fell swoop!

The mental challenge of learning to love language patterns is to undo the “right” and “wrong” aspect to you might have picked up from past experience. My advice? Get over it! Unless you are in a traditional classroom where it’s about grades, you are allowed to say your version of “goed” until “went” sinks in.  If you think about it, “goed” is a fantastic mistake to make because you are following the pattern.  It’s just a matter of working out the kinks of the exceptions and with time and practice you will.  I promise.

Happy learning!

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