National Grammar Day


It’s National Grammar Day. I am sure there are a few of us out there celebrating this. We talk a lot in my classes about this difficult language of ours. I cannot imagine learning it as a second language. So many rules all of which we break six ways from Sunday and rarely with good reason.

Our language is bizarre in so many ways. Just look at read. We read today, but we read yesterday. Look at that sentence in print and it looks fine, read it aloud, and the problem is obvious. How does a non-native speaker pick up on all those nuances?

  We deboard a plane and defrock a priest, but we debut a novelist. Seriously? In the first, you are exiting, in the second you are robbing someone of something, and in the third you are bringing annointing someone special. All with the prefix de- meaning separation.

 And pronunciation won’t save you. A nook (well, before Barnes and Noble anyway) is a small space but a kook is someone off their rocker. A non-English speaker would expect that double “o” sound to be the same; but of course, it’s not.

Then there’s that whole article thing. We can’t make it easy and say use a consonant with a and a vowel with an. No, we have to say use a consonant SOUND so instead of looking for the letter, we have to sound it out. Okay for a native speaker but again, hell if you’re learning this language first time around.

She wore a ring. Consonant sound = a

She sliced an onion. Vowel Sound = an

Happy National Grammar Day!

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “National Grammar Day

  1. Oh man, I get reminded of stuff like this and it makes me insanely GLAD English is my first language. I always feel sorry for English language learners!

    • I do, too. Teaching English for so many years reminded me. As more and more second language learners entered my classroom, it became clearer the difficulties they faced. Now, my college classes are full of a host of other languages and those students struggle with what they consider the “inconsistencies” of this “beautiful” language. I find it ironic that they love the language and find it beautiful but struggle with those things we know are major flaws for those attempting to learn it.

  2. I’ve been informally studying grammar and etymology and all I can say is that it evolves with no particular sense. Look at the word “colonel”; the way its written is based on one language (old Italian I think) and the way it’s pronounced based on ANOTHER language (old French, although I may have the two languages mixed up). Yet for some reason, we’ve kept it this way. Insanity.
    Happy National Grammar Day!

  3. This is why I am constantly impressed by the amount of people around the world who take the time and effort to learn this wonderful, crazy language.

  4. Yet so many children are taught in English in school around the world. It’s amazing! I could barely conjugate verbs in Spanish…and that was pretty straight forward!! 🙂 Love that cartoon!!

  5. I have great respect for our often confusing grammar rules. Thanks for the lovely post. And I agree… love the cartoon!

    • One of the things that drove me into teaching English was a love for the rules of our language. I also loved that we broke those rules. (I’m a child of the sixties) Having said that, there is no doubt it makes mastering this language much more difficult.

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