My Autobiography – My most hated subject in school: Grammar

Freedom-from-grammar-rules

If there was one freedom that I wanted badly when I was young, it was the freedom from grammar rules!!! I hated rules in general, but I had a special dislike for grammar rules. I hated grammar in all the three languages I learned – English, Tamil & Hindi.

One English teacher in my early high-school asked me why I hated grammar so much. I talked about the importance of how grammar rules ought to automatically be implanted into the student’s mind indirectly through reading, listening, etc. I told her that thrusting grammar rules (especially on me) would not make much difference to the learning process.

I guess she was irritated by my attitude, especially as I was questioning the authority of people who design the syllabus. Yes, I was an illuminated personality even back then :)

One day during a class,

Teacher: What is the question form for, ‘I have a chocolate’

Student 1: ‘Haven’t I?’

Teacher & Everybody: Yaaaaaayyyyyyyy *claps*

Teacher: What is the question form for, ‘I should pass the exam’

Student 2: ‘Shouldn’t I?’

Teacher & Everybody: Yaaaaayyyyyyyyy *claps*

Then it was my turn. I wasn’t aware that the teacher had a clear-cut plan.

Teacher: You? Ok, tell me what is the question form of, ‘I am going to school tomorrow’

Me: (After thinking for sometime) ‘Amn’t I’?

Teacher & Everybody: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA :)

Teacher: So Mr. Learning-by-reading-and-observing, where did you read this Amn’t I? The correct answer is ‘Aren’t I?’, you over-talkative boy. I always knew that you were fit for nothing. And to hide your laziness and casual attitude, you come up with intelligent-sounding excuses. At least from now on, start learning from your grammar book.

I felt bad. For English. I thought, which dumbo could come up with the question form, ‘Aren’t I?’ when such a comfortable and easy-to-remember ‘Amn’t I?’ was very much available? I thought whoever came up with that grammar rule was probably a poor overworked soul who needed some rest to get back to his/her senses. Of course, I didn’t say as much in the class :)

Later on, I went and told my Tamil Teacher that I was omitting grammar. We had a separate book for grammar for that year. She asked, ‘Which lesson’? I said, ‘The entire book, of course’. The teacher was shocked. But she didn’t realize the strategy behind my decision because grammar was worth only 10 marks in the exams. I just chose to concentrate on the remaining 90 while simultaneously avoiding a big headache :)

Hindi was the third language and we studied it only for three years. Back then (due to my attitude of ignoring grammar) I had no idea that there was only one translation for, ‘The cuckoo sings’. I used to translate it as, ‘Koel gaata hai’, ‘Koel gaati hai’ or ‘Koel gate hai’ depending on my mood :) No wonder there were so many red marks in my answer paper!

It is my opinion that what is said (message) is more important than how it is said (grammar). Yes, I can come up with creative excuses for neglecting grammar. Even now, I hate proofreading my blog. I hate it I hate it I haaaaaaattttttttteeeeeeeee ittttttttttttt :)

How about you?

Destination Infinity

Image: Destination8Infinity. Published under this creative commons license.

20 thoughts on “My Autobiography – My most hated subject in school: Grammar

  1. I agree with you. That is why God created “blog”. Any one can write in any way and readers will concentate on the subject and not on the grammar. You are lucky you dealt with a few “easy” languages like English, Tamil, and Hindi. Sanskrit and German have the most difficult grammar among all the languages.

  2. But you are doing a fairly good job with English in your blog. I hate to admit to you that I am a teacher of English and I love to admit that I hate grammar as well. The rules are so very convoluted and though I know the language fairly well, I cannot explain it in terms of grammar. I somehow try skipping teaching grammar and the excuse I give: The rules on paper don’t get translated into speaking and reading (for that you require another proficiency). Though I admire and appreciate well constructed pieces of writing, I don’t much care for grammar. I somehow believe that if one loves a language than instinctively one picks up the grammar. We learn more by listening, observing and reading than trying to relate to a set of rules which are mind-boggling.

    Joy always,
    Susan

  3. Amn’t I? is really good! Like Dharmendra says in ‘Chupke Chupke’, English is a phunny language! I liked the interaction between the student(s) and teachers! Poor teacher!

    I am not good in grammar either. You must be knowing it after reading my posts! I was good in Tamil grammar. Started learning Tamil from V std. For that, I was good!

    You have got so much company here!

  4. Count me on! I hated it too. They were so different in each language. And when I started to learn German, I was literally scratching my head, and realised English grammar is far better. I remember getting a horrible punishment from my english teacher for spelling grammar as “grammer”. She asked me to write the word 500 times, and get it signed from my father !!

    1. Thanks Anu for supporting my contention that German grammar is the most difficult (along with Sanskrit). The cases and gender in nouns are strange and difficult to understand. God help us with how to learn plurals.

  5. I travel on the same express of hate grammar… and I completely stand beside you on the board of learning. I don’t remember any grammar that I learned in school influence in my English… it quite based on reading on my own through newspaper, books and later blogs.

    For me too what important is the message we convey is understood by others, however the way it was.

  6. You write very well. Serious.
    So what if students do not understand grammar? One will get 0 marks. So what? Is scoring marks education? Some higher philosophical stuff was expected of you !!
    I find ending a blog post challenging. I put some efforts to make a blog post end well.

  7. I used to love English grammar and we had a wonderful teacher. But Tamil grammar was a terrible punishment. I had to learn it in Tiruchi, where I completed my last two years of schooling. From just being able to read and write the language I was thrown into the deep end. I somehow managed to get decent marks. Probably because grammar was only worth 10 marks, only I didn’t tell my teacher I was going to omit learning it :D

  8. I hate grammar too! Once a neighbor sent her kid to learn grammar, and few minutes with the kid and the book, I realized teaching grammar is a herculean task.
    LOL @ ‘Amn’t I?’ and ‘Koel gaata hai’ :D

  9. Loved learning English and Malayalam. Hindi was tough initially, but later on I caught up and it was ok-ok. I was (and am) generally good with languages so didn’t have much trouble. However it is when I started learning French that I realized how much grammar makes a difference!! And yes, it can be a pain!! :P

  10. But then again, I should mention that I know only 2.75 languages(English, Bangla(my native language), Hindi(just enough to read notices and talk to strangers, it’s the national language after all), and very little French(just enough to differentiate tu and vous etc.))

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