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“Grammar Cave: Curse of the Syntax” should be an Itchy Feet-themed text-based adventure video game, don’t you think? Old timey graphics, midi music…the many sequels, including “Grammar Cave III: The Conjunction Malfunction,” and “Grammar Cave VI: Detective Dative Makes the Case”…
Anyway, what were we talking about?
Right, grammar. While speaking, grammar can be a double-edged sword. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If you don’t pay attention to grammar while speaking and just wing it, you run the risk of being misunderstood, insulting, or just plain incomprehensible. Most native speakers will let grammar mistakes slide if they know you’re learning the language, but secretly it’s chiseling away at their souls every time you do it.
But if you do pay attention to grammar, and it doesn’t yet come naturally to you, you’ll end up stalling your sentences halfway through to check your work or prepare for what you’re about to say, and freeze up like our poor man in the comic above. This is also a fine tool for use in the soul-chiseling of native speakers (“Grammar Cave XII: Soul Chiseler”…I like where this is going).
Alternatively, you could do what I do, which is: don’t think about the grammar until you know you’ve screwed it up. Then, go back and repeat what you’ve said five times until you get it right. That way you kill two birds with one stone: you chisel the souls of your unfortunate listener, and you stall the conversation. There’s nothing that thrills native speakers more than when you stop in the middle of a sentence to query them on conjugations.
Unfortunately for you (and me), that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Practice makes perfect, and so forth. This article brought to you by: “Grammar Cave XXVI: When Idioms Attack”!
How about yourselves? Do you get stuck on grammar, or do you just blow right past it? Do you spend hours boning up with exercises, or do you just learn it over time from context? What’s your favorite “Grammar Cave” video game?