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3 ‘Myths’ About English Grammar

If you find English grammar stressful, or if you’re worried that your grammar stops you from being fluent in English, this post is for you.

Discover the three myths about English grammar (“myth” = wrong belief) and how you can improve your grammar and confidence in English.

Myth #1. English grammar never ends

In fact, compared to some other languages, English grammar has fewer sets of rules. We don’t have masculine / feminine nouns, or lots of “cases” (where word endings change depending on grammar rules).

It’s true that at the beginning, there’s a lot of grammar to learn. But after you learn the “basics”, there aren’t many new rules. What we do have is more complexity. For example, after you learn basic modal auxiliaries, you can learn how to use them in conditional sentences, and then how to use them to talk about past hypothetical situations.

Tip: Often the most common mistakes in grammar happen because the sentences are long, with lots of clauses. If you want to minimise mistakes, keep your sentences short, and make sure that subjects agree with verbs.

Myth #2. Your grammar mistakes are “stupid”

There are different categories of mistakes. Sometimes we make mistakes because we know the correct word or rule, but there’s a miscommunication between our brain and our mouth. (We call these mistakes “slips of the tongue”, and they aren’t serious mistakes.) Sometimes we make a mistake because we don’t know the rule yet. Perhaps we translate from our first language, and get it wrong.

But sometimes, we make a mistake because although we “know” the rule, it isn’t automatic yet. So when we make that mistake, we feel stupid. But here’s the interesting thing. We learn grammar in steps, and something that we think is really simple (like the ‘s on third person singular verbs) takes much longer to learn than other, more complicated things. That’s why you might still say “He think” or “She live” even at advanced level.

Tip: Don’t tell yourself that you’re stupid because you make mistakes with “simple” things. Be patient, and give it time. In the meantime, keep speaking English!

Myth #3. There’s only one correct answer

When you first start learning English, you want things to be certain, predictable and logical. However, in many situations, there’s more than one correct answer. For example, you can use more than one future form in many situations, and other tenses (like Past Simple and Present Perfect) can also be interchangeable.

Tip: Often, we make a choice depending on our attitude to a situation. This applies especially to tenses and modal auxiliaries.

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