English doesn’t have to be difficult!
There are many sayings about English being weird. One of my favourite sayings that I hear most often is:
English is not a language, it’s three languages wearing a trench coat pretending to be one.Gugulethu Mhlungu
English is one of those languages that has borrowed from so many languages over the years. It is hard to say it is just one language! It has become like Frankenstein’s monster: a collection of random parts that work together to make a language. That is why I love it.
But what does that mean for you? If you speak one of the languages that it has borrowed from, you have an advantage! Your language probably has something in common. All you have to do is find it!
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Why is English such a weird language?
English is an old language that decided to conglomerate with other languages. After being allowed to develop for several hundred years, the result is Modern English. While many argue that it is an easy language to learn, there are still many idiosyncrasies. My response has always been that English is an easy language to learn but very difficult to master.
But why is it like this? A big reason is The Great Vowel Shift. This is when grandparents and great-grandchildren may have not understood each other very much. Well, they probably did not live long enough, but still.
Also, What is the Plural of ‘You’? Is it y’all, youse, yous, you guys? Why isn’t there a clear cut answer?
There is then also The Most Important Word in the English Language and Its History, which itself is a conglomeration of several words. And we use it every day without even realising it. Scary!!
And it is not just pronunciation and plurals. There are many more. What about the French Phrases in English the French Wouldn’t Understand? They are as common as water in English but the French would be sitting there scratching their heads. What exactly is a bathroom en suite?
Or how about English directly contradicting itself by using one word to mean two things that are exact opposites. Those are called Contronyms.
Vast Voices and Temperamental Timing
On top of all this, there are all the tenses in English. Need a review? Here is an all-encompassing one: Active Tenses in English. If you prefer, you could focus on Past Simple, Present Perfect, their differences under Past Simple vs Present Perfect or look at the differences between the “Will” vs “Going to” vs “Shall” Futures.
But that isn’t everything. Those are just the main tenses in the active voice. What about when we start getting creating with time in a sentence. Well, you may need to use Future in the Past. Or maybe even Reported Speech.
Then there are the five types of Conditional Sentences, Past Habits, and even Modal Verbs (will/would, can/could, shall/should, must/must not, may/might). Also, what are the differences between can vs may?
To make things even more complicated, there are even Semi-Modal Verbs (had better, need, dare, have to) that do exactly the same thing. But do they really? Here are some differences between should vs ought to vs had better. Here are some differences between must vs have to.