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Articles on Grammar

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Sprechen sie Deutsch? German tongue by johnyf33/Shutterstock

Get your tongue around German to master speaking English

It has become commonplace to hear that English is now a sort of “global” language, or lingua franca. Although this might be partly true, is it right to draw the conclusion that native speakers of English…
One thing’s clear, there’s a whole lot of duckspeak afoot. Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography/Flickr

Will Self, George Orwell and … what’s he newspeaking about?

Writer Will Self grabbed headlines earlier this week by referring to George Orwell as the “Supreme Mediocrity”. He wrote: The curious thing is that while during the post-war period we’ve had many political…
Sticklers beware. marymuses

What the grammar gurus don’t get about how we learn

Sticklers beware. The British Library is hosting it’s English Grammar Day, a day to finely split hairs over split infinitives, apostrophe’s (sic, sic, sic), and Oxford commas (sick!). Yes, in the case…
Despite the lack of punctuation and abbreviations, texting isn’t having an adverse effect on young people’s grammar. Flickr/Difei Li

Text-messaging isn’t, like, ruining young people’s grammar

If you think that young people seem to be spending more of their time “face-to-screen” than “face-to-face”, you’re probably right. And a lot of that screen time seems to involve reading or writing English…
Ronald Reagan: ‘mistakes were made’. But by whom, Mr President? By you? Flickr/Brett Tatman

‘Mistakes were made’: detecting the sneaky passive voice

In a recent enquiry into alleged sexual abuses by priests, Cardinal George Pell said: Mistakes were made by me and by others in the church that resulted in driving Mr Ellis and the archdiocese apart rather…
You haven’t used ‘stakeholder’ enough. Professor and student via Tyler Olson/Shutterstock

To write English like a professor, don’t rely on Google translate

Thankfully, nobody speaks academic English as a first language. The English of the university is a very particular form that has specific features and conventions. Sometimes, this is just referred to as…
We need to bring back teaching grammar, but not how it used to be. Shutterstock

Grammar matters and should be taught – differently

I’m going to put it out there - most teachers don’t know enough about how the English language works [aka grammar], and this inevitably impacts upon student literacy outcomes. There are grammar pundits…
Do humans learn grammar based on what they hear? Or is it already in our brain somewhere? Shutterstock

How we learn grammar

How do we humans end up using language in a way that conforms to grammatical rules? Recent research, using artificially designed languages, has disproved what many scientists used to think, that grammar…
We long ago lost our second person plural – but that hasn’t stopped us adapting. Symic

Are youse using English properly – or mangling your native tongue?

Languages evolve and transform. If that weren’t the case, the only word in the previous sentence that would be considered English is and (which in any case used to mean if). The English we speak would…
Was Prince Charles correct? Are Americans destroying the English language? EPA/Samantha Reinders

The Americans are destroying the English language – or are they?

In 1995 Prince Charles caused a ruckus when he lamented the unchecked spread of American English – and the effect of American usage is one that’s perennially lamented. But is it true? Are Americans really…
Is it ok to call your colleagues “mate”? What about “darl”? AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Hey mate, let’s talk about address terms

In 2005, Parliament House’s security guards were banned from using the address term mate. This decision was quickly rescinded when talkback got wind of the ban. The objection? “This is Australia, mate…
There are other ways to improve undergraduate writing that don’t involve teaching grammar explicitly. Writing image from

Grammar lessons not the solution to undergrad writing woes

University students across the nation will be handing in their first assignments of the academic year over the next few weeks. Academic staff will sigh, as they do every semester: “my students can’t write…

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