How to tackle Grammar

Learning how to master the grammar is very important, since grammar gives you the structure of the language. The order of the words together with the roles of pronouns, verbs, adjectives and son on, will allow you to be perfectly understood and understand exactly what you are told. You don’t have to learn a lot of grammar terminology as long as you can manage those structures effectively.

It is also very important to know that the construction of phrases in your mother tongue language it is not the same as the language you are learning. Pronouns, verbs etc  can have a totally different use or you might find additional pronouns that are not existent in English.

In some cases you have to replace  the usual  translation when the foreign word  is  used in particular contexts. For instance to take in English is usually translated with the verb “prendere” in Italian.  The difference in that in certain contexts the verb prendere is translated in English with verb “to have”. In an Italian bar a customer would probably says to the bar attendant “ Prendo un cappuccino”. In English this will be translated with I’ll have a cappuccino, not with I’ll take a cappuccino. Note also that the present is used in Italian whereas the future is used in English

There are certain ways to master the grammar.

1. First of all you have to   understand how to place words in the right sequence. Learning how to find the right order has a great advantage; it allows you to be understood even if you don’t know all the rules. Knowing that you must put certain words before others will clear out some confusion. For instance if you say in Italian: macchina senso andare contro it’s totally confusing for the recipient of the message. But if you say  macchina andare contro senso that is certainly much more clear even if you did not use the right tense and there are some other words missing. The above example is deliberately not quite right but it shows that even if you do not know all your grammar you can at least give the audience some clue of the meaning you are trying to convey.

2. To get familiar with the grammar, play with it as much as you can: try to shift the words around and change whatever can be changed. For instance, the sentence the girls play in the house can be changed in a lot of different ways like the girls will/ play/are playing/have been playing etc. Change the subject and even the place (courtyard, fields, streets). Change as much as you can and your brain will be get used to putting words in the right place without even you even knowing it.

3. Another good exercise will be memorising or learning a lot of sentences which helps to put words in a context. Repetition plays a very important role in language learning. Even with grammar: by memorising and repeating structures, you will learn to use them correctly.

4. Vocabulary: Be aware of false friends words when studying  the vocabulary. There are plenty of words that are similar in meaning and sound in European languages. Take the word restaurant – el restauante in Spanish, il ristorante in Italian and le restaurant in French. Likewise there are plenty of words which are similar but they have a different meaning (false friends). Take for instance eventuellement in French which is close to eventually in English but has not the same meaning; in French it means “possibly; if need be”.

For many people mastering grammar seems a very daunting task. Once you learn to put some strategies in place to help you on the way, grammar will become just a tool to assist you in your journey to fluency.

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