Archive for the Category: Grammar

Grammatical correctness and standard languages

I got thinking standard languages and grammars today after reading an old post on Michal Boleslav Měchura’s blog Young, Single, Multilingual in which differences between standard and non-standard Irish language and grammar are discussed. One example is the use of the tag question ní tá instead of the standard nach bhfuil – the equivalent of […]

Also posted in English, Irish, Language 1 Comment


Recently I’ve been learning Serbian, Russian and Czech with free apps produced by Hallberg Ryman, who make them for quite a variety of languages for Andriod and iPhone/iPad. They are working well for me and I would definitely recommend them. They use a flashcard/SRS-based system to teach you vocabulary arranged into categories such as numbers, […]

Also posted in Czech, English, Language, Language learning, Russian, Serbian 1 Comment

Tag questions, innit!

Tag questions or question tags are interrogative fragments (tags) added to statements making them into sort of questions. They tend to be used more in colloquial speech and informal writing than in formal writing, and can indicate politeness, emphasis, irony, confidence or lack of it, and uncertainty. Some are rhetorical and an answer is not […]

Also posted in English, French, German, Irish, Italian, Language, Manx, Polish, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Welsh 15 Comments

Grammar and usage

Last week a friend suggested that it is grammatically correct to say “I go to the bar now”, even if it’s more usual to say “I’m going to the bar now”. We suggested that in English as spoken in the UK the first would be considered wrong, even though it’s understandable. My friend insisted that […]

Also posted in English, Irish, Language 17 Comments

Obrigados / Obrigadas

According to someone who wrote to me today, the words obrigados/obrigadas are only used in Portuguese to mean ‘obligated’, and are not used to thank more than one person. However, according to João Rosa, who wrote the article Obrigado – how to express your gratitude in Portuguese, these words are used to mean ‘thank you’ […]

Also posted in Irish, Language, Manx, Portuguese, Scottish Gaelic, Zulu 14 Comments

The future is behind you

According to an interesting article I came across today, in Tuvan (Тыва дыл), a Turkic language spoken in the Republic of Tuva in southern Siberia, the future is behind you and the past is in front of you. Which makes sense as you can ‘see’ the past, or at least remember it, but you can’t […]

Also posted in Chinese, Language 11 Comments

I’m going Llandudno

The other day in the supermarket I heard a bloke say to his friend something like, “Tomorrow I’m going Llandudno” – the lack of to after going struck me as slightly strange, though the utterance was perfectly understandable. I’ve heard a few other people talking about going to places without the to and wondered if […]

Also posted in English, Language 17 Comments

Keeping an open mind

There’s an interesting post over on fluentin3months about the importance of keeping an open mind when in foreign countries. Benny the Irish Polyglot explains how he found Parisiens arrogant, rude and unfriendly the first time he was in Paris, and how they were discouraging about his efforts to learn French. He became convinced that all […]

Also posted in German, Language, Language learning 7 Comments


Degrammaticalization, a word I stumbled across on this blog today, is the process through which grammatical affixes become independent words. A good example is ish, which started off as a suffix on words like longish, shortish, etc. Then became an enclitic – an affix that can be detached from the words it would normally be […]

Also posted in English, Esperanto, Language, Words and phrases 11 Comments
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