English is indeed a strange language. Almost arbitrary and mercurial, English Language changes it’s rules with every sentence, commas and full stops that puncture a paragraph. It flouts the very principle it religiously followed in the previous case, at the next turn. A criteria that is applicable to one case stands invalid for another. This unpredictability of the language makes it difficult for amateurs to master it’s complex grammar. The rules are finicky and meticulous and keep changing colours like a sneaky chameleon. In such a scenario, much as we dislike, the only way out is to start splitting hairs. Verbs, nouns, pronouns, articles, homophones, etc seem like a slimy mess that needs to be ordered and straightened into a grammatically sound statement. To do this, let’s start by tackling one rule at a time – Basics of English Grammar.
Basics of English Grammar
1. The monopoly of ‘THE’
Presence and absence of “The” not only signifies the importance and exclusivism of a subject but also controls the nature of the verb. It decides whether the verb in the sentence would be singular or plural. For example, note the following difference:
The bread and the butter make you fat.
With ‘The’ posited before every subject, the verb automatically assumes plurality.
On the contrary,
Bread and butter make you fat. Due to the absence of ‘The’ in the subjects, the verb remains singular.
2. The snobbery of ‘DID’
Although ‘did’ is the past tense of ‘do’ and is used to allude to the past and history, the practical use of ‘did’ is always made with a verb in the present tense. It is an immutable rule and using ‘did’ with past tense is a wrong and jarring combination.
For example, ‘I did not know that’ is correct as opposed to ‘I did not knew that.’
3. Change the spelling and you wholly change the meaning!
Misplacing an alphabet and substituting it with another can result in total metamorphosis of the word. For instance, stationary means not moving but the meaning changes altogether once “a” is replaced by “e”. Stationery is defined as writing and other office materials and does not remotely signify being still or inactive. Similarly, the word acne alludes to a pimple but if it’s “n” is mutated with ”m”, the word acme comes to represent the highest point of something.
4. The betrayal of the subjects and the verbs!
Though the rule says that more than one subject calls for a plural verb but anomalies exist. Sentences in which two subjects are enjoined by ‘as well as’ always take on a singular verb even though the subject is plural. For example: ‘ The sailor, as well as the captain, lives on the upper deck.’ At the next turn, the rule again changes the complexion and states that if the second subject stringed by ‘as well as’ is plural, then the verb imitates the closest subject and also assumes plurality. The example is, ‘James, as well as his brothers, have arrived.’
So, these were the basics of English Grammar. As seen above, the English language is a lingo rife with inversions and exceptions. Rules are many and overlap each other, often in a conflicting tussle. So keep exploring the enigma that this language definitely is.