1. MatrixGravity
    Offline

    MatrixGravity Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    New York

    How can I re-learn the basics of english?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by MatrixGravity, Feb 15, 2014.

    Ok, this is a bit of a bizzare question, but I'm hoping for some advice.

    I recently realized that I'm really not confident in my ability to speak english at all.

    We are taught basic english words at a young age, such as

    "and, to, be, must, since, so, why, maybe, we, those, not, about," etc. You get the idea.

    Problem is, now that I look at it I really don't know exactly what those words truly mean. I use them naturally in every-day conversation, but I can't really seem to grasp their exact meanings. I simply use them mindlessly without examining their definitions and what they truly mean. So I'm wondering how I can re-learn the basics so I can feel confident when I speak and write? Thanks alot.
     
  2. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    "Alot" is a cartoon critter. A lot is two words. ;)

    That's all I got. :)
     
  3. ArcticPhoenix
    Offline

    ArcticPhoenix Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2013
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    0
    Matrix, are you a native English speaker?

    If so, it would be normal for you to tend to just speak the words mindlessly. I imagine maybe it's like a subconscious "It feels right to use this word so I'll use this right now" kind of mindless.

    In my case, I'm not a native speaker, so school actually had to teach us the exact meanings of those words with a theoretical approach before they could expect us non-native kids to understand or speak them. If you want to relearn the basics of English, you might find such a theoretical approach useful.

    If it doesn't wound your pride too much to study in secret -- and I think it shouldn't, since trying to learn and improve is always a great thing -- I think you could try looking up English for Beginners courses, many of which are available online.

    Looking at the words you listed I did a little Google search and found this page: http://www.talkenglish.com/Grammar/Grammar.aspx.

    Hope this could help. Good luck!
     
  4. David K. Thomasson
    Offline

    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    341
    Likes Received:
    122
    Location:
    Lynchburg, Virginia
    A few questions to get you started.

    1. In a piece of text, can you identify the nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions and prepositions?

    2. In a sentence, can you identify the subject, verb, direct object or predicate complement? The modifiers (adjectives, adverbs and prepositional phrases)?

    3. Can you diagram a sentence?

    Any "no" answer is a place to focus until you can answer "yes." Google for parts of speech, sentence parts, basic English grammar, diagramming sentences, etc.
     
  5. MatrixGravity
    Offline

    MatrixGravity Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    New York
    I'm afraid the answer is no to all of your questions.. Where should I begin? Can you please recommend some books that would help me understand all of this? I am probably going to visit my local bookstore next week. What should I look for that would help me learn about all of this? Any specific titles? Or anything in particular? Thanks again~
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2014
  6. Robert_S
    Offline

    Robert_S Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2013
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    163
    If you have a kindle or other e-reader, there is a book called "How to Speak and Write Correctly" by John Devlin. Now, this book is dated to the point of being public domain, but it is free and the base material has not really changed.

    Another book, not free, that is looking good so far is "The Only Grammar Book You'll Ever Need: A One-Stop Source for Every Writing Assignment" by Susan Thurman and Larry Shea.
     
  7. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    And yet your posts are coherent and showing no signs of incompetence. I guess I'm at loss here as to where the root of your failure of confidence originates.
     
  8. David K. Thomasson
    Offline

    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    341
    Likes Received:
    122
    Location:
    Lynchburg, Virginia
  9. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,907
    Likes Received:
    10,096
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    I think the thought the OP is expressing is that his/her grasp of English is only of the organic, innate variety denoting the natural language one absorbs during that precious window of opportunity from 2 - 7 years of age. I actually had a similar revelation when I started studying Russian at DLI. I spoke my mother tongue, English, with a perfection one would expect to find within the halls of academia, yet when the parts of speech, clauses, sentence structure, and all the other facets of how a language functions had to be applied to learning Russian, I was at a loss for vocabulary. I understood what "the possessive" meant, but not the greater concept of which it is only a facet, the genitive/partitive. I understood what an indirect object was, but not the dative meme it represents. Russian is an inflected language, thus one must understand these concepts in one's own native language before ever hoping to predict the correct inflected endings for nouns and adjectives in Russian, which do follow a logic of syntactic concept and roll.

    As a writer, I can see why this might be important to the OP, because if he/she is to be corrected, the lack of this knowledge will leave him/her without a way to understand the why of the correction.
     
  10. Bryan Romer
    Offline

    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Messages:
    891
    Likes Received:
    381
    School grammar textbooks would seem to be an easy and affordable option.
     
  11. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,907
    Likes Received:
    10,096
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Do they still print those little white Warner Grammar books I remember from days of youth? :)
     
  12. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    I couldn't tell you what a subject in a sentence is either, and only learnt what adverbs even are when I started teaching English. I still have trouble identifying tenses in a sentence. And I certainly cannot diagram a sentence - never seen such a concept.

    None of that prevents me from writing a book, nor does it prevent me from writing with near-perfect grammar (I say near-perfect because of course there's one or two mistakes in a novel of 88k+ words). Essentially, what I'm saying is, I don't see what the problem is, or why you should feel diffident.

    In any case, if you truly want to grasp the proper meanings of the words that you use, then whenever you come across a word you realise you only get the "idea" of rather than the full, proper meaning - look it up in a dictionary. It's what I do. And how to check that it's a word you don't fully grasp - you do that by simply trying to explain the word to yourself or a friend. If you find that you can describe the word without problems, you probably understand the word just fine. If you can't, then you probably don't understand the word fully - in which case, look it up and soak in the dictionary definition.

    Beyond that, not too sure. Study grammar thoroughly? Read more books and don't glance past the words you don't know?
     
  13. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,985
    Likes Received:
    5,503
    Read a lot. Write a lot. In the review room, read others' reviews, do some reviewing, and put some pieces up for review. When someone has a correction of either your piece or someone else's, go and look up that area of grammar.

    Most writing is intuitive; IMO a knowledge of grammar usually just kicks in when you have very specific questions. You're essentially training your intuition, and that will require the "read a lot; write a lot" practice.
     
    Mckk likes this.
  14. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Yeah I echo ChickenFreak up there. I learnt all my grammar through reading, and technically - technically English is my second language :p (in reality I consider English to be my mother tongue, but that's a whole other issue/story)
     
  15. MatrixGravity
    Offline

    MatrixGravity Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    New York
    Sorry this doesn't really help.. As I said I'm trying to go back to my roots and re-learn the basics/fundamentals of english because I'm tired of questioning the words that I write. Mainly the beginner/basic words that comprise a sentence, such as, (as, and, to, go, the, said, in, will, has"), etc. These are the beginner words I'm trying to master and learn so I can properly grasp what they mean because I simply don't feel confident in my understanding of them.
     
  16. David K. Thomasson
    Offline

    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    341
    Likes Received:
    122
    Location:
    Lynchburg, Virginia
    Start by memorizing the eight parts of speech (only the first seven really count): noun, pronoun, verb, adverb, adjective preposition, conjunction, interjection.

    Then Google "parts of speech" and you'll find a zillion tutorials ranging from very good to pretty awful. Try a lot of them and find a few that make sense. Practice until you can identify the parts of speech in text.

    When you've got that down, move on to sentence components: subject, predicate, direct object, etc. That's where simple diagramming can be very helpful in sorting things out. Again, there are lots of tutorials online.
     
  17. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,907
    Likes Received:
    10,096
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    When I was a lad back in the 70's, the diagramming of sentences is something I remembering doing quite a bit of. I understand it's out of fashion? o_O Shame, that. It helps so much.
     
  18. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,985
    Likes Received:
    5,503
    Sure, yep, but I can't help wondering if you're writing, meanwhile. Not that you have to answer that as a question, I just wanted to suggest that you do indeed do lots of writing, even before you answer these, or any other, questions.

    I've occasionally been concerned, when you've asked questions about vocabulary and other issues, that you seem to be studying up about writing before doing the writing, rather as a person might sit in his driveway and practice how to turn the steering wheel, and how to press the brake pedal, for weeks, before actually getting out and driving. Driving students usually start driving almost immediately, and I would similarly suggest that it's good to start writing even while you feel that there is a ton that you don't know about writing.
     
    Mckk and Wreybies like this.
  19. David K. Thomasson
    Offline

    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    341
    Likes Received:
    122
    Location:
    Lynchburg, Virginia
    It sure does. Once you get it wired into your mind, you can just visualize a sentence's diagram in your head and "see" just how all the components fit together. We also had to rattle off the conjugation of any verb in six tenses -- and that was in seventh grade when I was 12 years old.
     
  20. MatrixGravity
    Offline

    MatrixGravity Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    New York
    I understand. To be honest, and just so I can clarify, I am not trying to become a writer at all. I'm simply in pursuit of knowledge/wisdom and I want to improve my ability to express myself and my thoughts better and I simply want a better grasp of english overall. I'm not confident in the way I speak, and I'm not confident in my thoughts at all, and I simply want to master these things that I am troubled with. I just want to become more intelligent. I'm just not happy with myself. I feel like I can be better and I want to be.
     
  21. David K. Thomasson
    Offline

    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    341
    Likes Received:
    122
    Location:
    Lynchburg, Virginia
    My suggestions can help with that.
    My suggestions won't help with that.
    Nor that.
    Nor that.

    I think you need to spread out all your goals on the kitchen table and arrange them in order of priority, and address them one at a time. If you try to do twelve things at once, you're likely to end up accomplishing nothing at all.
     
  22. obsidian_cicatrix
    Offline

    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2013
    Messages:
    1,711
    Likes Received:
    1,453
    Location:
    Belfast, Northern Ireland
    It has already been said, but I think it's worth saying again. Your writing is competent. I would imagine your manner of speech is too.

    I'm at a bit of a loss to suggest something, mainly because confidence seems to be the biggest issue. Surely you don't lie awake at night berating yourself over your use of the English Language.

    Gaining knowledge is never a waste but, as a cure for lack of confidence, it might be ineffective until the deeper issues are addressed.
     
  23. MatrixGravity
    Offline

    MatrixGravity Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    New York
    You're absolutely right. I guess in my mind I don't really have a clear understanding of what I want to do.

    I guess.. I essentially want to expand my vocabulary because I want to convey my thoughts clearer, and because I want to grow as a person and become more intelligent, and a lot of people that have large vocabularies are viewed as "wise" and "intelligent", and I would ideally like to be viewed similarly. But before I attempt to learn all the big words, I want to start from the beginning, and by that I mean I want to re-learn the basics, and once I have a strong grasp of the basics, I'll feel confident enough to tackle bigger vocabulary words. If any of that makes sense..
     
  24. Lewdog
    Offline

    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    Messages:
    7,530
    Likes Received:
    2,826
    Location:
    Williamsburg, KY
    Watch all the Scary Movie franchise (There are five of them), over and over. Then when you are done, do it again. When you are all done, you will know what the phrase, "That sucks!" means.

    On a serious note, the best way is to submerge yourself into a group of English speaking people, start watching English speaking movies, listen to English speaking music, read English books, do as many English type things as possible. Also make sure to ask A LOT of questions.
     
  25. David K. Thomasson
    Offline

    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    341
    Likes Received:
    122
    Location:
    Lynchburg, Virginia
    A large vocabulary doesn't necessarily go with a large understanding. Rather than go wide (larger vocabulary), you might think about going deeper.

    How many entire books have been written trying to get to the bottom of the idea of justice, for instance? Plato was one of the first. His Republic is essentially an exploration of one question: What is justice? H.L.A. Hart wrote a classic titled simply The Concept of Law. Many another have written reams on that subject. We all imagine we have free will. How many forests have been felled to print books trying to figure out that "simple" idea?

    Justice, law, free will ... they aren't big words, but they are bottomless concepts. If you think about going deep, I suspect your vocabulary will take care of itself.
     
    obsidian_cicatrix likes this.

Share This Page