Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mary Teaches Grammar

I learnt to read from books about Mary and Bill.

Mary ate an egg.

Bill kicked a ball.

These books were designed to introduce young readers to letters and words. These books could also be used to teach grammar.

Take the first sentence above as an example: ‘Mary ate an egg’. This is known as a simple sentence. It has a subject: Mary; a verb: ate; and an object: an egg. Most simple sentences follow a similar format to this.

‘Mary’ is a proper noun. Proper nouns, as you probably know, are people, places or things. In English we capitalise the first letter of proper nouns.

‘Ate’ is a verb. Verbs tell us what the subject of the sentence (Mary) is doing to the object (an egg). Verbs can also give us a clue as to when this action took place. In other words, verbs can show tense. In the sentence ‘Mary ate an egg,’ the verb ‘ate’ tells us that the Mary/egg encounter occurred some time in the past.

You can learn all this, and a lot more, from the first line of the first page of the first book you ever read. But, if you’re like me, you probably didn’t.

If you are me you are trying to learn the fundamentals of grammar as an adult. You are struggling with this.

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