Core English Grammar: Introduction
Grammar Problems when you move to writing
One point I keep making in this course is that written English is not just writing down the noises of spoken English. They are different languages.
- Spoken English doesn't have punctuation. ("Just put in a comma where you breathe" doesn't work because the comma rules are the same for heavy smokers as they are for fit athletes.) Spoken English doesn't have capitalization either.
- Spoken English has a LOT of words that sound alike but have several radically different meanings. Here's an example (and I am putting the word in Greek letters to emphasize the sound it makes). The sound θερ can mean:
Written English has three very different words for these, but when you spell by simply putting down letters to represent the noises you make, you get confused:
- a place or position
- belonging to or associated with the people or things previously mentioned or easily identified
- a combination of a pronoun and a form of the word "to be"
- there = a place or position
- their = belonging to or associated with the people or things previously mentioned or easily identified
- they're = a combination of a pronoun and a form of the word "to be"
- Sentences in spoken English are a lot simpler than the ones in written English. They are shorter and almost never have subordinate clauses.
- Spoken English almost always has a visible audience, so you can correct things that are wrong or unclear instantly. Written English doesn't have that instant feedback. Writers who throw in phrases like these think they are talking to the readers face-to-face, but the readers never get a chance to talk back:
- "You know what I mean?"
- "Now don't get me wrong."
- "By the way, I forgot to tell you."
Over the next few weeks, we will cover several grammar issues that cause special trouble for those making the spoken/written transition, because you need to have the tools to speak informally AND to write formally. We will cover:
- Spelling (including using the wrong word)
- Run-on sentences
- Sentence fragments
- Pronoun reference
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Revised 8/10/17 • Page author: Curtis Allen • e-mail: email@example.com.