The caption of this post may sound ‘okay’ (or passable at the least) to a novice in English, but there surely are some basic mistakes or Indianisms as some people often call them.
So, “What are the grammar mistakes YOU make?” or ‘Do you Know how good is your BASIC Grammar?”
You know them already, they are pretty basic and the same mistakes don’t come-up when you write. Great! To know the slippages you make with your Spoken English is your Milestone #2. You could start correcting them on your own or under the guidance of a Trainer, depends on your Learning Style.
On the other hand, if you really don’t know your mistakes but are ‘often misunderstood’ by others, have to repeat your sentences when speaking to native speakers of English -you may need to be told by a fluent speaker who knows his/her English.
Who would listen to your speech and pick-out the major mistakes that are connected with Grammar (or for IT people the syntax of the language). A any good trainer would almost always suggest measures to bring you back to the ‘basic rule book of spoken English’, whenever it is required. For a person, who is already speaking in English, it must start with identification of what are the problem areas and correcting the errors that can’t go with speaking the language with confidence & Ease.
Typical composition and usage problems I get in my conversation in English classes in INDIA:
I will call them limitations or lack of exposure to ‘right usage’ as they can be learned by speakers given the right environment to practice. The brain needs time to migrate from Hindi Grammar platform to composition and usage in Spoken English. How much time is enough depends on the intensity of your practice and knowing what’s going wrong. Read on for 7 most common grammar limitation faced by us as Indians.
- Inability to form a sentence’ with a ‘new’ word when the meaning is also known. You may have picked this new word from a Movie or while reading the newspaper; you noted it and went on to look for the exact meaning … but can’t compose a sentence.
- Not knowing usage of certain Phases that are part of everyday English for example: Is it ‘Suppose to’ or ‘Supposed to’?… click to read this interesting post with some most common mistakes when you Speak-up. 17 PHRASES YOU’RE PROBABLY SAYING WRONG.
- I am stuck with my Indian-isms as CNN Travel’s post points it out, read 10 classic Indian-isms: ‘Doing the needful’ and more in CNN Travel. It also gives some pointer on ‘How to fix grammatically in sane phrases found in common Indian English’.
- Improper or excessive usage of ‘some’ words where they don’t fit: – we cover them as filler words to avoid. At the same time, my students learn to use linking words in our Intermediate course ‘GET SELECTED’ – this makes them fluent and reasonably correct & confident speakers to clear communication rounds in an interview.
- Not knowing enough structures to form your sentences: the problem statement is all my sentences sound the same and its so boring for the lsitener that he/she switchs off like
An essay on ‘My Cow’ when I am actually talking about ‘My Company’. Does this Sound familiar? Do you know how to form a question when you are making a request? Learn to make sentences in many different ways.
- Improper Application of tenses: I see ‘sentences made in present continuous or progressing tense when the speaker wants to convey a habit, routine or like/dislike or ‘I’m going’ when he/she is actually seeking a permission. This is biggest mistake people make; I also did the same as in ‘Are you knowing…’ the caption for this Post . And yes I deliberately did it! Did you notice it?
- Wrong usage of articles, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, interjections- I am sorry to sound like a grammar teacher or a Nerd. I not a Grammar Nazi or a Nerd (terms quite popular in the blogger’s world) but as a communication skills trainer, I can say that the basics of these have to be quite right (if not perfect) until you want to sound like a Newbie.
As long as you can understand Comics and relate with the humor its fine with me 🙂
In the end, I would like to thank Daniel D-Mello from CNN- Travel and Ms Sarah Brooks from ‘SHE KNOWS’ for helping me with this Post. Thanks! also to Peanuts one of my favorites.
Both for English and Hindi -the grammar (or rules of the game) sound similar but there are some marked differences. (Just like Cricket and Baseball). A person who plays good cricket can sure “hit the ball with a round bat” but first he must know that ‘there are No wickets” in baseball game. I will talk about the key differences between English and Hindi Grammar as well as the similarities we can ride-on in my next post… so that you don’t get out in any of the bat & ball games.
What a grammar book does for me is give me the tools in the same way that I had the tools when I learned the alphabet. If you give me the tools, the syntax, and the grammar, it still doesn’t tell me how to write Ulysses – a novel.
Grammar is to help you organize words into sentences, and there are many ways to do that. As I can also say, ‘words can be organized into sentences in many ways’ and grammar helps you do just that. How can you put together a sentence without using ‘Grammar’ be it any language – you need some rules, DOs and DON’Ts etc.. ‘Grammar’ also helps you to clearly understand the meaning of words spoken by others – including your trainer. There are 3-essential things to Learn 1)Types of words or Parts of Speech; 2)Sequence of words or Sentence Structures; and 3)Tense or indication of time. Every SENTENCE should make some SENSE and should be formed in the right TENSE!
“Besides good Grammar one needs: – clear pronunciation to be a ‘public speaker’; very fine vocabulary to be a ‘book writer’; and both of them need a Great Story to Tell”
Do I need to do ‘all the grammar’ before I begin to Speak?
Can you drive a car in a city like Delhi without knowing the directions or traffic rules?
Not possible … without getting lost or caught. So, knowing and following basic directions and rules are needed if you don’t want to get caught or get lost!
Whereas, if you don’t need to be a traffic cop in Delhi, you don’t need to know or even read the complete ‘Motor Vehicle Act.’ Similarly, for Spoken English you only need functional or Basic Grammar which is taught to you in the form of activities in the class and simple DOs and DON’Ts. The good news is that you don’t need to learn all the rules, learn all the tenses or read through the complete grammar book before you begin to speak right sentences. Another good news is English Grammar is very easy even as compared to Hindi grammar. There are also lot of similarities to understand quickly and some differences that you may need to know.
In doing conversations in English, there is no possibility that you can cram all the sentences that you may need to speak even as you do simple chit-chat or gossip with a friend – forget answering interview questions without basic knowledge of Grammar. By this time, you may have realized that applying Hindi grammar OR any translation based method from any book does not work. In my view it cannot work, it won’t work. So my humble request to you “stay clear from English teachers or trainers who tell you that you don’t need any grammar.”
On the other side, you need to learn ‘Wren & Martin’ level of grammar and composition if you want to be an excellent speaker – a TV anchor Or ‘write a book’. And yes, I agree with you that learning grammar by the book, from the CD, without any speaking practice, opportunities or real-life situations and on your own is a rather tedious task ‘akin to’ knowing the complete Motor Vehicle Act.!
Where to start leaning grammar and how to improve as I speak.
So, you have understood that, you don’t need ‘all the Grammar’ but you need to know the Basic rules of the game before you start playing it or to play it better. As you begin to play the game, you lose more than you win but you are learning ‘as long as’ you stay ‘in the game’. Later as you absorb more and more of this rule-book called grammar, you definitely also play better.
The start point is self-assessment and if you are able to speak your sentences than you know the basic grammar behind even if you don’t know the terms used by a grammar teacher….you only need to speak more, use new words and expressions and keep correcting your mistakes under the guidance of qualified coach.
I am a trainer of communication skills, my task in the language class is to get my students to speak as much as possible while I do grammatical corrections on the go…pointing out mistakes as politely as possible. I sometimes need to explain to you the grammatical error and its implications on your image as an English speaker.
Since some of you may not understand the ‘Terms of Grammar’ (or English Jargon), what I do in my first few classes is avoid using any grammatical term before we discuss it and all the students in the class understand it properly. To make you Learn functional Grammar usage and composition of sentences for your ‘Spoken English’; We do a lot of activities and I give you a lot of examples (we need to avoid Hindi but grammatical similarities can be drawn). The result is that you understand the BASIC rules of English grammar as deeply as possible almost as much as you understand them for your first language. You also See, listen, Read and Speak (or do it yourself activities in the L@b) so that you really learn the grammar by interesting and ‘fun-to-do’ methods. you do not really need to cram the rules or learn them ‘by the rote’.
I also keep correcting your small grammatical mistakes as you speak in the class; so you follow ‘the rules of the game’ and learn them. Next time, you try to play it right and when sometimes you do it wrong your still learn from the mistake… Later, as you grow with the usage of simple DOs and DON’Ts of English conversations, you win more & more games and lose some…You learn best by ‘staying in the game’ and playing it again and again.
Keep playing the game of ‘English Conversations’ and have fun as you go for the Long Drive!
At T.r.i.c.k.s , we give unlimited practice time in an English Language L@b and have the most innovative tools to help you understand the functional parts of grammar and give you ample opportunities to use it for construction of new types of sentences/questions or expressions and speak them out in the class…
What are Nouns, Verbs and Adjectives? …this is the first thing you Learn in my Grammar class and your Activity #1 To be able to identify ‘different types of words’ . This is before I ask you to start making even simple sentences.
Some of you may say, “I know them” as you start to speak out the crammed definitions from a grammar book. Learning by heart the definitions of these ‘Parts of Speech’ has not helped you to make sentences. Am I right? So, what you need is ‘to LEARN how to use them in a sentence and a quick identification when you add a new word -in your Active vocabulary’.
Each type of word has different placement in a sentence like a noun/pronoun can take the Subject form while adjective will generally come before the noun etc. Your mind has learned to identify them for Hindi or your first language. You may or may not remember the definitions it does not matter but You need to train your Mind to use different types of words differently. You will LEARN to identify them and USE them rightly in my class!
In Activity #2: You need to recall from your memory in a given time-limit of (say) 5 minutes: 50-60 Nouns, 20-30 Adjectives and 20-30 Verbs. Sounds easy? Try it on your own.
Learn to identify Types of words or Parts of Speech (or PoS):
To demonstrate the importance of PoS, let me use an example to explain ‘What are parts of speech’ and ‘How many do need to identify for quick formation of sentences’. Assume that in place of teaching you ‘How to make a sentence’, I am explaining to you ‘How to make a cup of tea’. You need to know the ingredients before you even start, right? Similarly our mind needs to understand various ‘Types of words’ before it can start making sentences in any language. These types of words are Parts of Speech (or PoS) as they are called in a grammar books. You sure got it and also how vital is the understanding of PoS or in other words ‘Why do we need to start from the basics?’
‘Parts of Speech’ or different types of words viz. Nouns, Pronouns, Verbs, Adjectives etc. are the ingredients for making a sentence, they are like milk, water, tea-bag, sugar etc. for making ‘a cub of tea’ You have to know the ingredients pretty well and identify them clearly before you can make a sentence in the right sequence and quickly enough to speak it. The demand for quick formation of a sentence is more when you want to be spontaneous with your response. You also need to know them for attending an Active Vocabulary session, as well. There we need to Learn the meaning of a ‘new word’, is it ‘a Noun’ or ‘a Verb’. You want to speak ‘the new word’ in a sentence of your own. You cannot use ‘a verb’ in place of ‘a noun’ … could you?
Okay! How many Types of words do I need to Identify?
At first, to Speak English at the very BASIC level you only need to know 3 types of words: Nouns, Verbs and Adjectives and you need to know them along with the usage – particularly Nouns -Count/Uncountable. Simple definitions of these three types of words are:
- Nouns: naming words; the objects they name can be visible or not visible.
- Verbs: doing words – they indicate some action or work; action again can be in brain
- Adjectives: are describing words, they describe the Nouns.
If it is a Noun, you have to identify it as Uncountable or Countable and within Countable there can be Singular or Plural; uncountable by definition can’t have singular/plural forms. Some Nouns can be used both as Countable and Uncountable. e.g. How many times have I told you to do it in time.
Parts of Speech builds or reinforces a solid foundation for understanding different structures of sentences and later the Tenses will become much easier to understand for a BASIC language learner of Spoken English. Point to Note: only Verbs and Helping-Verbs are changed with the tenses.
Grammar milestone #1 for Spoken English BASIC class: To Know and identify the ‘Parts of Speech’ or Types of words particularly: Nouns (countable and uncountable), Verbs/Helping Verbs and Adjectives. Please give yourself 3-4 days and build some Active Vocabulary along with it. Do some Activities in the class and practice the usage in the Language L@b.
Grammar Challenge for Students of Intermediate/Advanced classes: If you understand and can identify and use all the ‘Parts of Speech’ 8 or 9 – depending on the grammar book you refer to; We offer attractive scholarships!