In 1945, the author of my 10th grade English grammar book wrote, “A democracy needs citizens with skill in listening, reading, thinking, and the precise, forceful expression of their ideas.”
Nearly 70 years later, I’m told that grammar really isn’t important any more. They say that as long as you can understand what someone says, it’s not important if he or she can’t recognize a subject from an object of a preposition.
You still know what people mean, I’m told, even if their subjects and verb tenses don’t agree. And they’re right about that. We all can usually interpret most English speech, and the positive side of all the miss-spoken English grammar is how nice it sounds when someone speaks correctly.
We’re so used to hearing ‘where people are at,’ and ‘those kind of things’ that when we hear correct speech, it startles us.
Since I was graduated from college, that 10th grade grammar book, has been on my desk every day, along with my dictionary and thesaurus. Dictionaries are helpful when you hear a word for the first time.
It’s a grammar book, though, not a dictionary, that spells out proper English usage. I use mine regularly, because my wife tells me that my own grammar is lousy, and she reminds me about people in glass houses.
You’re never too old to study English.
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