Grammar (Is it really 40 years ago since man first landed on the moon?)


Is it really 40 years ago since man first landed on the moon? I remember it well, watching on a very grainy picture on a black and white TV screen seeing those figures in space suits jumping up and down on the moon’s surface like small children playing on a sandy beach. It wasn’t till later that I saw colour pictures of what the Earth looked like to the astronauts - a magnificent ball of colour so different sometimes from the world we see around us each day. And that made me think, I honestly don’t know why it isn’t sometimes until you get things in perspective that you can comprehend something. And now if you are prepared to make this leap of imagination with me I’ll start talking about grammar. It is a little colourful world on its own and shouldn’t really be a frightening object at all. We should treat it with respect of course and remember to spell the last two letters as ‘ar’. Too often the very sound of it puts fear into the heart of the listener. You need to accept that it exists but see it in perspective and also see it as made up of many different parts like that globe I was talking about just now.

What is it after all but a system and an acceptable methodology? It has its uses. If you take the basic and simple sentence - Subject+Verb+Object and then put some flesh on that formula, you get: The cat sees the mouse. Seems all right doesn’t it? It wouldn’t be much good if you said: Sees the cat the mouse. People wouldn’t know what you were on about it, would they? That’s where a small part of grammar comes into play. We can also change our sentence around a bit with a difference in time: The cat saw the mouse/The cat has seen the mouse/The cat will see the mouse. So tenses are a part of grammar? No problem. What about looking at our basic pattern in another way: The mouse is seen by the cat. So grammar is hosting the passive form? No problem there either. Let’s be a little more inventive and say: The cat in the tree saw the mouse on the grass. Prepositions! Yes, indeed. They too are another part of the make up of grammar. Once you start to consume grammar in easy bite sized portions it doesn’t seem half as indigestible as it first did. I suppose it’s the pedants and the fusspots that try to get you rattled. Whereas most of us in answer to the question: Who’s there? Come back with: It’s me, they on the other hand say: It is I. If you say in their hearing: That’s something that I can’t go into, they wince and point out that you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition. If you really want to get them worked up, ask them something along these lines: Are you going to really try hard? They’ll scream at you that you can’t split an infinitive. So where does this neurosis seem to originally come from? (Oops another split!). The answer is that they worship and adore Latin, which guides them along this path. But they should realise that Latin is a dead language and English is alive and kicking and changing all the time. Grammar is there to help but not to dominate. Please don’t be frightened of it. Ask us questions about it on the forums. We love to help. Just one request: if you are going to use the G word, make sure you get the spelling right – g r a m m a r.

Thank you.