October 30, 2005

Reposted:Grammar and English -- by Bruce Lin

The more I study grammar, the more I encourage students not to care much about it. The English grammar, more often than not, is impedance to self confidence. Too bad that we weren't born with the language, and, trust me, you will never get it right. What does it tell you if we still can’t sort out the use of “he” and “she” through years of practice? How about millions of other grammar issues that await us? The good news is, bad grammar seldom stops communications. When you said the word “hungry,” people should instantly know that you are hungry; never mind the tense, agreement, wording you use in the context. When communicating, you just don't get too seriously on grammar at the expense of your content, which might be more important.
That said, we should not pretend the English grammar does not exist. After all, grammar is not to hinder our communication. It is to guide. I read some articles or listen to speeches with good grammar command; their messages are often like fists punching in your face – those messages just don't go unnoticed. After all, grammar is all to do with making sense – to communicate intelligibly. But if we are to do this, we need to share a single system of communication. If there is no grammar, there can be no effective communication. It is as simple as that. However, you DON'T study grammar to have good English; rather, you USE English to let those grammar rules seep into every fiber of your soul. (So, maybe you can finally sort out “he” and “she”) When you write or speak, be CURIOUS about your usage – go check it in a grammar book. At the very moment, you associate the grammar rule with your English, your life experience, or anything; then, the rule makes sense to you and you will not forget it. No one ever conquer the English grammar, but maybe that’s the fun part of it – you hardly get bored and the study of it is filled with surprises.
Basically, the English grammar is about morphology and syntax. The former is on the structure of words, dealing with inflections; the latter focuses on the structure of sentences. Most of the time, you can still make yourself understood if you make mistakes. You can see English this way: English is combination of art (content) and science (grammar). Art without science is chaotic; science without art is boring. If there is no grammar, the way you communicate will be soon out of date. Let's take a look at the following excerpt from the article, Film’s Fairest Lady. The article is a tribute to Audrey Hepburn, who died in 1993:
Of all the wonderful closings in movies, one in particular comes to mind now. A journalist has just given up, for love, the biggest story of his life. He has also surrendered the love of his life, all for the sake of a young woman. A most unlikely situation, a dramatic confectioner's creation. Reality has no place in this fantasy. Until the ending. And until now.
Now let's see a different version:
Among so many movies' endings, I especially think of one ending. In the movie, a journalist has just given up the biggest story of his life because he loves a girl. However, he has to give up his love for this girl because he wants to protect her. It is very romantic; it is like a romance created by a confectioner. It does not seem real until the ending of the movie and until now.
Can you feel the power of writing now?


  1. 'A 24-hour brain dump'
    In this story today, P-I reporter John Cook previews Seattle Mind Camp , the brainchild of Andru Edwards .
    Just like so many Americans my friend loves the clubs and club music lyrics so he went ahead and built an awesome website about club music lyrics. When he's in high spirit he goes to the site and start reciting all his favorite club music lyrics. Says it's good for the heart. Guess what? I gave it a shot and it works great!

  2. thanks for the chats.....and the dictionary url ...nice post