Putting It Together: Grammar

Grammar is made up of lots of little rules that work together to create a language. Since there are so many rules, you can’t expect to remember everything, especially not at once. No one can, not even professional writers and editors, who typically have at least three reference books and style manuals at their fingertips. Feel free to come back and reference the material taught in this modules as often as you need.

Here’s a quick recap of the parts of speech we learned about in this module:

Remember, language is always changing: new words are being created (e.g., googleselfie), and words are changing meaning (e.g., they, literally). This kind of change is how these are all from the same language:

  • Hwæt, we gar-dena in geardagum, þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon! (Beowulf, the Beowulf poet, c. 700 AD)
  • Thanne kam þer a Kyng: Knyȝthod hym ladde; Might of þe communes made hym to regne. (Piers Plowman, William Langland, c. 1300 AD)
  • And for myself, foe as he was to me, Might liquid tears or heart-offending groans Or blood-consuming sighs recall his life. (Henry VI, William Shakespeare, c. 1550 AD)
  • Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable. (Matilda, Roald Dahl, 1988)

In another couple hundred years, the things we say right now will be just as incomprehensible to people as the things Shakespeare wrote are to us.