1. Moima
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    Moima Member

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    How can I improve my grammar?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Moima, May 31, 2014.

    Hi,

    as a non-native English speaker, I'm always on the lookout for new ways of improving my grammar and syntax. I read books like: I after E except after C or Eats, Shoots and Leaves, as well as general English for beginners/advanced/academic writing books. But I'm still not 100% there. I'm flustrated since I've been actively studying English for about 15 years, yet I'm still making mistakes!

    Is there anything else I can do?

    I'm on the verge of 'giving up' this writing thing I have going, because I just found out that my first published article had some mistakes in it :( Things like missing 'the', or messed up tenses. What a dissaster :/ Finally I managed to get an article published and now, if anyone even remembers my name, it will be associated with grammatical mistakes.
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Read a lot. Seriously, it helps. Read anything from novels to newspaper articles. Also, don't give up. It may seem like a challenge at first, but you'll get better the more you work at it.

    And don't worry about making mistakes. I've been speaking English my whole life, and I still make mistakes. In fact, if you go over to the Word Mechanics section of the forum, you'll see that a lot of the threads were started by native English speakers. It's hard even for us!
     
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  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Do not give up. That's the only sure way to guarantee failure!

    @thirdwind is right. Read a lot. Proper grammar (and spelling, and punctuation) sinks in if you do that. And, yes, native English speakers make mistakes. Sometimes more mistakes than those who speak English as a second language. If you read posts on this forum, you'll find that some of the most correct English is written by non-native English speakers.
     
  4. Moima
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    Moima Member

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    I read all the time! I read textbooks for my degree, books, articles. Maybe I'm not reading them 'right'? I really don't know. I will go over to that forum, I didn't even know there was such section.
    Thank you.
     
  5. Larissa Redeker
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    Larissa Redeker Active Member

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    I'm not an English native speaker too, and I'm learning now. I read a lot, everything. When I read a novel, sometimes I get an sentence and translate it to my language, it helps me to learn the syntax. I use Linguee, an online dictionary with examples, too. And the Word Mechanics section, of course.

    And in some days I can write in English easily, but in others... I don't know why I'm using "and" instead of "an" today :/ brain failure :p
     
  6. sylvertech
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    sylvertech Active Member

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    Backing up minstrel, I have often been told by native speakers that I speak and write better English than they do.

    This I attribute to reading tons of books, to the extent where I speak in a highly literary way (and often too literary to the extent that I'm thought to be joking).

    However, you should try to watch out for the old books. I've lost grades repeatedly due to some words being "obsolete" and "literary" and "anachronistic". Psht; Philistines.

    Reading fiction does one more good than studying grammar books since it's soaked up properly and can be recalled without having to refer to rules and analyse situations. Much like what happens with pro chess players.

    This applies to all languages, by the way, and not only English, and once I'm done with the Duolingo French program I'll depend solely on dictionaries.
     
  7. Moima
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    Moima Member

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    Thank you everyone.

    The problem with reading is that I jump over the articles and the prepositions, as in I don't really notice them. I think it is a well known fact that our brain simply fills in the blanks without us actually having to read every single word. Which is good enough for reading a text, but not so good for producing one. While researching this yesterday, I found an interesting tip. The author encourages students to stop and think, as in take one sentence at a time and analyse it like this:

    "Former President Jimmy Carter will visit Venezuela next week to mediate talks between the government and its opposition, which have been locked in a power struggle since a failed coup.
    • “Former President” — not “The former President”, so I guess we say “President Carter” and not “The President Carter”, even though we say “The President will do something” when we don’t mention his name.
    • “to mediate talks” — not “to mediate in the talks” or something like that. I wonder if that would be OK, too...
    • “power struggle” — I think I’ve seen this phrase before.
    • “since a failed coup” — so I can say “He’s been paralyzed since an accident” (preposition use), not only “He’s been paralyzed since an accident happened” (conjunction use).
    • “since a failed coup” — not “since the failed coup”. The author does not assume we know about the coup.
    • “coup” — hey, I know this is pronounced /ku:/!"
    http://www.antimoon.com/how/readhow.htm

    I guess I can try to do that with some sentences and see how it goes.
     
  8. Mans
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    Mans Contributing Member

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    I am very happy that eventually I met a writer that she has a lot of problem in English like me :D I was depressed between these expert English writers that you see in the forum. I was jealous of them and asked myself, how they have learned English thus professional and can write easily, while I have to use a damn dictionary or the google translate always :D I am glad to see you :) The only difference between us is that, you have studied English during 15 years and I just 3 years :D Why you didn't write where are you from :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2014
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  9. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    @Mans, I'm jealous that you know Persian. I would love to be able to read Rumi and other Sufi poets in the original Persian.
     
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  10. Mans
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    Mans Contributing Member

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    thirdwind, I am glad you know these poets. They are not just belong Iran but they are belong the humanity.
    There were some famous writer in the world that sincerely loved theosophic poets of "Molavi" ( Rumi), "Hafiz" and "Sadi", among German poet, Goethe.
    Their poems are very soothing and inspiration. They convey people to a world full of beauty, goodness, love and joy. sadly, they are unknown in the west and east and people don't know them; except a little group of educated persons that have studied and researched about the olden Persian poets.
    If people know these international poets, they will fall in love with their poems and keep a book of them in their homes always.
    Of course as you said, their origin poems in Persian is so much better than their translated poems in other languages because many of beauties, graces, amazing metaphors and most of all, rhymes of their poems is eliminated after translation.

    This is one of the translated poem of "Hafiz" that was translated by Wilberforce Clarke in 1840- 1905 but has been edited by an Iranian researcher Dr. Behrouz Homayoun. Hafez lived about 700 years ago.


    O beautiful wine-bearer, bring forth the cup and put it to my lips
    Path of love seemed easy at first, what came was many hardships.
    With its perfume, the morning breeze unlocks those beautiful locks
    The curl of those dark ringlets, many hearts to shreds strips.
    In the house of my Beloved, how can I enjoy the feast
    Since the church bells call the call that for pilgrimage equips.
    With wine color your robe, one of the old Magi’s best tips
    Trust in this traveler’s tips, who knows of many paths and trips.
    The dark midnight, fearful waves, and the tempestuous whirlpool
    How can he know of our state, while ports house his unladen ships.
    I followed my own path of love, and now I am in bad repute
    How can a secret remain veiled, if from every tongue it drips?
    If His presence you seek, Hafiz, then why yourself eclipse?
    Stick to the One you know, let go of imaginary trips.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2014
  11. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    That's a beautiful poem. Thanks for sharing. I've heard of Rumi and Hafez, but I've never heard of Sadi. I shall look him up.

    By the way, the German poet is named Goethe. Perhaps "Goatee" is the way it's pronounced when you write it in Persian.
     
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  12. Mans
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    Mans Contributing Member

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    I corrected the name of German poet,Goethe in my post

    Thank you :)
     
  13. Mans
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    Mans Contributing Member

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    Saadi lived about 700 years ago. He was an expert story writer in addition to his poetry. He has two book; one of his book named Golestan (rosary) and other is called Boostan ( garden). Boostan is just poetry and Golestan is the collection of amazing short stories attached with excellent short poems.

    This is the summary of the first poem of "Sadi" in Boostan as an introduction ( it is not a professional translation):

    In the name of god who gave life
    The sage who placed words on the tongue
    God who is generous and helpful
    The munificent who forgives faults and accepts excuses
    The darling from whose door if anyone turned away
    he could find on honor at whatever door he tried
    The heads of great and eminent kings
    are in supplication on the ground at his threshold
    he does not seize the disobedient at once
    nor does he drive away the penitent in cruelty
    if he is enraged at deeds
    he overlooks the matter when you come back to him
    If you dared to rush upon an oppressor
    When would you have been safe against his anger?
    If anyone picks a quarrel with his father
    He would doubtless suffer much from his rage
    If a kith is not satisfied with his kin
    He will be driven away like a stranger
    If a slave shows no agility in his task
    He will not be held dear by his master
    If you are not affectionate with a friend
    That friend will flee mils away from you
    But god who rules all the ups and downs
    Does not refuse subsistence even to a rebel


    And this is a sample of his story- poems in Golestan. The bold sentences are poems :

    I heard a king giving orders to kill a prisoner. The helpless
    fellow began to insult the king on that occasion of despair, with
    the tongue he had, and to use foul expressions according to the
    saying:

    Who washes his hands of life
    Says whatever he has in his heart.


    When a man is in despair his tongue becomes long and he is like a
    vanquished cat assailing a dog.

    In time of need, when flight is no more possible,
    The hand grasps the point of the sharp sword.


    When the king asked what he was saying, a good-natured minster
    replied: 'My lord, he says: Those who bridle their anger and forgive
    men; for God loveth the beneficent.'
    The king, moved with pity, forbore taking his life but another
    minster, the antagonist of the former, said: 'Men of our rank ought
    to speak nothing but the truth in the presence of king. This
    fellow has insulted the king and spoken unbecomingly.'
    The king, being displeased with these words, said: 'That lie was more acceptable to me than this truth thou hast uttered because the former proceeded from a conciliatory disposition and the latter from malignity; and wise men have said: "A falsehood resulting in conciliation is better than a truth producing trouble."'

    He whom the king follows in what he says,
    It is a pity if he speaks anything but what is good.


    The following inscription was upon the portico of the hall of
    Feridun ( he was an ancient king):

    O brother, the world remains with no one.
    Bind the heart to the Creator, it is enough.
    Rely not upon possessions and this world
    Because it has cherished many like thee and slain them.
    When the pure soul is about to depart,
    What boots it if one dies on a throne or on the ground?
     
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  14. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Just stay as far away from the south as you can and your grammar will be A-Okay...
     

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