Saturday, July 21, 2007

Living Grammar: Which is the right way?

Often, students wonder whether I am teaching textbook English or authentic English used in the community. I then try to explain to students that there are a variety of reasons why these differences exist, and one of the reasons deals with correct usage. In other words, many native speakers just don't speak correctly because they have heard grammar used incorrectly for so long that the correct usage sounds strange to them. For example, many native English speakers might say this sentence:

“I would buy a new car and house if I was rich.”

Actually, the formal grammar rule states that in present unreal conditional sentences, the verb in the condition statement (“if I was rich”) is changed to a past tense verb, but the BE verb is irregular, and thus changes to WERE no matter which pronoun is used (we, they, she, he, I). The irregular form is what is problematic for most native speakers (although they might not realize it is incorrect), and within a few years, this usage might become completely acceptable. Now, share your ideas. What grammar rules do you know of that seem to be used differently from what we found in formal textbooks?

1 comment:

  1. I think that most native speakers of English have long avoided using the past particple form of verbs and as a result of it, they can hardly remember that the past particple of the verb to go is gone.
    I've read , many times, sentences like "I've went there a few times."
    I heard that many americans have replaced this tense by the simple past and in order to make the message clear, they make use of adverbials such as JUST, YET, ALREADY in sentences like: I just bought a car -- instead of writing I've just bought a car.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for posting a comment. I appreciate your interesting in sharing your ideas.

Best,

Randall