Grammar sucks

Photo by Ken Treloar on Unsplash

Even the word ‘grammar’ is a turn off. What’s it for? Can’t we just speak? Sometimes people define a word by using the word. That’s dumb. Grammar words are ideas. They exist because it gets boring to describe the whole idea every time you want to talk about it. So it takes time to learn grammar stuff, and then it saves time. Invest 1 hour and save 10 hours.

I think grammar got a bad name, because it was taught in a really bad way. Maybe the teacher didn’t understand it! Or couldn’t explain it. It’s about jargon. If you know the jargon, then you’re in the in-crowd. If you don’t, you’re excluded. Or maybe, English grammar is so easy, it’s not worth it. If you speak one language and you’re happy with that — then forget grammar. You just speak.

But if you’re learning another language, then maybe it would help if we called grammar something else. Grammar looks a bit like Grandma. Let’s call it asking Grandma. So, it’s not about German grammar, it’s about German grandma. Grandma knows the rules.

Let’s start… now these rules work for most people most of the time. Some specialists are going to moan. But they’ve made their life from a study of this stuff. You and I have other things to do.

Sentences

Grandma says sentences are like dinner. You’ve got meat, and potatoes.

I’m going to the cinema, because there’s a good movie showing.

I’m going to the cinema — meat

…because there’s a good movie showing — potatoes

It’s not much of a sentence without the meat (although Grandma is vegetarian…).But the potatoes are nice too.

Verb

Action word

to go

to shake

Includes some stuff that doesn’t feel much like action but is still a verb

to be able to (can)

to be

No verb, then no sentence. You must have one.

Infinitive (of a verb)

Looks like infinity. What’s infinity. Goes on forever. No time. No subject.

I am a man. You are a woman. He is a boy.

am, are, is : what’s the verb ‘be’. Almost. ‘to be’. All English infinitives start with ‘to’ something.

He shakes. ‘to shake’ is the infinitive.

It’s the verb straight out of the box. Nobody’s using it yet. It’s waiting.

Stem

The very least part of the verb after you chopped off the ending (mostly) en. Let’s you play with the verb and combine it with subjects.

Subject

The person or thing often on the left side of the verb. It is often like that. Not always. But logically. The person or thing who ‘owns’ the action. The doer.

The man bakes a cake.

Subject: the man

Object

The stuff on the right side of the verb (mostly).

the cake

Direct object — it’s a type of object

Think what. Subject verb what? The man shakes what? The cake. The door is a direct object.

Who cares? German cares. This is what ACCUSATIVE means. It’s row two in a normal grid.

Indirect object — it’s a type of object

Think who. Subject verb who? For who(m)? To who(m)? The man bakes the cake for Grandma.

The man bakes the cake for who(m)? For Grandma. Grandma is an indirect object.

Who cares? German cares. This is what DATIVE means. It’s row three in a normal grid.

CASE system

Take the subject and object ideas above and apply them, and that’s the CASE system.

Conjugate

To conjugate. It’s an infinitive! Conjugate means to put a verb together with a subject.

to be — unconjugated infinitive verb

I am — conjugated verb (to be) with ‘I’.

Past participle

When a verb in the past has 2 parts, it’s the second part. I have spoken with him. have spoken. Spoken is the past participle.

Ich habe mir ihm gesprochen

Prefix

Pre — means before

fix — to attach (fix the painting to the wall)

e.g. vor

vor + stellen = vorstellen

ver + suchen = versuchen

Adolescent Prefix

A prefix that likes to run off and do it’s own thing, especially when used in the present tense. A prefix that likes to keep distance when making the spoken past.

I imagine

Ich stelle mir vor.

Past tense — I imagined.

Ich habe mir vorgestellt.

Homebody Prefix

A prefix that likes to stay with the main verb and hates ge.

I try.

Ich versuche.

Past tense — I tried.

Ich habe versucht.