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OPINION: English is a funny language

Do you remember trying to teach your kids about grammar?

English is a funny language and it often doesn’t make sense.

I’m reminded of this daily when my five-year-old daughter says things that are grammatically incorrect but sort of make sense. Today she said, “I catched the ball.” Well, yea, I can see why she would say that. She took a word and made it past tense by adding ‘ed.’ I told her to say caught instead. She told me that sounded dumb.

I can’t wait for the phone calls I’m going to get in the fall from her Kindergarten teacher.

I had a friend in college who was bilingual and would often offer to ‘borrow this to you.’ She also had a snarky response when I suggested she use the word ‘lend.’

Maybe I should just stop correcting people’s grammar.

But as a parent, it is my job to teach my children how to speak correctly. It is a delicate dance though. I want to correct them, but I also don’t constantly want to tell them they are wrong. I want my daughters to be smart without feeling dumb along the way.


I’ve decided to take a natural approach to teaching my daughters grammar. Multiple studies have shown that proper grammar is learned intuitively and subconsciously through regular conversations.

Over time, children will figure out what sounds right and wrong. Even the order of adjectives will come naturally. Usually, the order to describe something is quantity, quality, size, age, shape, and then colour. You would say, “Five, big, black cats.”

Any other way would sound weird. “Black, big five cats” hurts my brain. I don’t ever remember learning how to speak this way in school but this is how I would describe anything. And you probably would too. However, if you didn’t grow up speaking and learning English, you might not.

That is why it is so important to talk with your young children. Even talking to your baby is a good start. I would often just simply describe whatever I was doing when my children were newborns. Sometimes it felt weird but soon came naturally. Although the looks from my dog weren’t helpful.

Reading is also an important part of our bedtime routine and I feel will help with speaking correctly. Have you ever read a children’s book with grammatical errors? Reading helps expand vocabulary and exposes children to different sentence structures that might not be used in daily small talk.

It is never too early to start reading to your baby. Reading to a newborn can help with bonding, exposes them to new visuals plus studies have shown children who were read to as newborns have a larger vocabulary, as well as more advanced mathematical skills, than other kids their age.


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Marisca Bakker

About the Author: Marisca Bakker

Marisca was born and raised in Ontario and moved to Smithers almost ten years ago on a one-year contract.
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