One of the main principles of the English Harmony philosophy is not to fall into the habit of analyzing your speech from the grammar standpoint.
The very same goes with reading.
You may find yourself trying to figure out what this or that particular sentence in a book or newspaper represents in English grammar terms, and the funny thing is that sometimes you just end up confusing yourself instead of gaining something from it!
You’re reading a sentence and the analytical part of your brain automatically starts analyzing the syntax: “Hold on, is it a Passive or Active Voice construct? I’d better Google it up and see if I can figure it out!”
So off you go browsing forums and spending your time just to satisfy your curiosity!
And you’re not alone.
There’s millions of English learners asking questions on forums trying to figure out WHAT ROLE certain words and word groups play in a sentence, what grammar tense is represented by the sentence in question and so on.
Sometimes I come across those forum threads when validating my English collocations (read more about how I do it HERE) and it just doesn’t cease to amaze me that there are folks who are quite literally wasting away their lives asking questions such as:
Is this clause a predicative expression or is it not?
What exactly does “would have” mean in the following sentence “I would have thought that the unemployment rate is on the rise, but it’s actually the other way around”? It looks like a conditional sentence, so does it mean that the person who speaks doesn’t actually think that the unemployment is on the rise but would think so if certain conditions are met?
The moment I see those questions, it instantly brings me back to when I used to analyze everything I was reading or hearing, and needless to say, that’s exactly the reason why I couldn’t speak fluently in the first place!
My mind was gone into a permanent analytics mode and I was under the false impression that if I were to become proficient in terms of English grammar, I would also become fluent.
Little did I know at that time that it was completely false logical reasoning.
Just think about it – how being able to DEFINE what a particular group of words represents is going to help you REPRODUCE that phrase or sentence when writing or speaking?
It won’t – that’s the thing! 😉
You see, it’s all because most English learners can’t distinguish (and it’s all because of the traditional way of teaching English at school!) between the following:
- Theoretical KNOWLEDGE about English grammar and syntax,
- Practical SKILLS and ABILITY to use English when speaking or writing!
Many of us believe that KNOWLEDGE directly translates into ABILITY – but nothing could be further from the truth!
When you speak with real people in real life, does anyone care about the sentence being a conditional or not?
All that matters is your ability to SAY IT OUT LOUD!
OK Robby, But Why Have You Got So Many Grammar-related Articles On This Blog?!
It’s a very valid question!
Yes, I have plenty of articles and videos where I’m discussing the spoken aspect of English from the grammar perspective, here’s a few of them:
- Can Present Continuous Substitute Present Simple Tense?
- Embedded Questions – When Reversing Word Order Isn’t Necessary
- WILL and GOING TO English Future Forms: How to Use Them in Conversations
But here’s the thing, my friends – I have very good reasons for doing so.
First and foremost, I was doing it (allow me to point out that I’ve stopped publishing such grammar-related articles and videos for the simple reason that I’ve actually covered the most important aspects) in order to build my blog and YouTube channel following.
I was basically catering for those foreigners who were still stumbling in the dark in vain hope that English grammar knowledge would sort out their fluency issues.
Basically the idea was to get their attention by talking about a specific grammar topic first, and then, when I had their full attention, I would start talking about the fact that grammar knowledge actually doesn’t matter that much – it’s all about your ability to replicate grammatically correct English patterns.
Is that trickery?
Was I misleading my YouTube followers and blog readers by talking about grammar first and then telling them that they actually don’t need the grammar?
NOT AT ALL! 😉
You see – the main purpose of those English grammar related videos and articles is to explain difficult grammar concepts from a purely practical perspective thus making it easier for my fellow English learners to wrap their head around those concepts.
I mean – I could tell them: “Listen guys, this video is about Future in the Past but you know what? You don’t actually need it, so I won’t be even bothered explaining you what it is, we’re just going to move onto sample sentences where Future in the Past is used.”
But you have to agree that most people would leave my video or article at that point because they’re still in the analytical mindset – whether I like it or not. 😉
Their curiosity needs to be satisfied before I can start reasoning with them.
So basically my approach is to draw English learners’ attention by mentioning a specific grammar subject and THEN trying to “turn” them into English Harmony followers by slowly and steadily making them realize that they don’t really need to fully understand this or that particular grammar concept – they merely need to learn it so that they can USE it!
Here’s a Shocker: I’ve Actually Forgotten Most of the Grammar Terms!
The simple truth is that these days I would hardly tell an adjective from an adverb.
Some may think it speaks of a total lack of professionalism, but if you hold to that opinion – you’re completely missing the point!
The point is the following:
Being knowledgeable in grammar terms serves NO PRACTICAL PURPOSE ❗
None whatsoever ❗
Just like I previously mentioned in this article…
…when you write or speak in real life you DON’T APPLY that knowledge of grammar terms!
Yes, you may be going through the process of constructing sentences from scratch – especially if you’re a struggling English speaker – but you still have to agree that knowing the role of a specific word or a word group in a sentence – “predicate”, “adverb” or “relative clause” – is NOT going to HELP YOU to create that sentence.
Yes, you have to know how to USE the relative clause, for example, but basically what I’m trying to say is that you can be JUST AS SUCCESSFUL at using it even without knowing that it is a relative clause in the first place.
Just think about most native speakers, for example.
The average native English speaking Joe doesn’t have a clue about all these grammar terms, yet he speaks fluently! 😉
He can USE English words and sentences without knowing what role they fulfil in a sentence, and that’s exactly why I’ve stopped caring about grammar terms years ago.
And guess what?
It doesn’t prevent me from helping other English learners!
Fluency is all about your ability to speak without much thinking, and all the fluency management methods and confidence building strategies I’m publishing on my blog aren’t less effective due to my lack of grammar-related knowledge.
So, next time you’re catching yourself asking a question such as – “where’s the predicate and where’s the subject in this sentence?…” – think twice.
It serves NO practical purpose!
- Don’t Analyze the English Language Too Much – It’s Not Good for Your Fluency!
- Don’t Analyze Your English – Part 2: Why Questions Beginning With WHY Are the Worst!
- Information Overload: How To Stop Thinking TOO MUCH When Speaking English!
P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English!
P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!