English is fragile and need be handled with care
A few days back, I happened to read the online version of a Valley based Magazine which had carried a Cover Story on Baghlihar Power Project. On its cover page, the magazine, introducing the Cover Story, had written, "How J&K fought its history’s most complicated financial battle to own a Rs 10,000 crore Project?" There was a ‘Mark of Interrogation’ at the end of the sentence which, however, was not correct in the given context of the sentence. The sentence is an ‘Embedded Question’ which doesn’t have to be ended in a ‘Question Mark’. There are numerous such incidents that can be spotted wherein those, who have a basic understanding of the language and its grammar and who are not expected to commit grammatical errors, make such mistakes due to the delicate nature of English grammar. It’s fragile and may sound weird at times. Although I am not an authority on the language, yet, on the basis of my experiences and study of the language, I am writing the following lines for those who have attained a basic level of understanding of English grammar but commit errors while dealing with the delicate and fragile parts of the grammar.
English grammar is vast and full of exceptions. Almost each ‘part of speech’ has a considerable number of exceptions which need to be handled carefully. Let’s take a simple example. We all know that all verbs cannot be converted into their Past Forms, what we call ‘Second form’, simply by adding "ED"; for instance, the Second form of the verb ‘SEEK’ is not ‘SEEKED’; it is ‘SOUGHT’. Therefore, one rule can not be applied everywhere. Consequently, a number of errors are committed by non-native English speakers and writers. An extensive study of each grammatical concept surprisingly reveals how a commonly used rule stands invalid at certain instances.
Owing to the delicate and fragile nature of the English grammar, some errors are committed while dealing with ‘Unusual Nouns’, ‘Tenses’, ‘Conditional Clauses’, ‘Pronouns’, ‘Non-Continuous Verbs’ and, of course, ‘Embedded Questions’.
There are a number of unusual nouns which behave differently than the common words. The plural forms of some nouns are unusual; ‘FISH’ and ‘SHEEP’ being the most notorious. But, those that are not commonly known and have identical ‘Singular’ and ‘Plural’ forms, pose greater trouble. The plural form of the noun ‘SPACECRAFT’, for example, is ‘SPACECRAFT’ itself and not ‘SPACECRAFTS’. Some other nouns that belong to this category are ‘AIRCRAFT’, ‘EQUIPMENT’, ‘HOVERCRAFT’, ‘OFFSPRING’, ‘TROUT’, etc, etc. However, it may sound more confusing and senseless that sometimes the use of the words like ‘FISHES’ and ‘PEOPLES’ is correct! When we refer to the different species and diversities of fish and people, we use the words ‘Fishes’ and ‘Peoples’. Example sentence: A huge number fascinating species of fishes are found in the Arabian Sea. Similarly, some nouns, that always come in pairs, have no plural forms. There is no word like ‘INNING’; the correct form is ‘INNINGS’. Example sentence: He scored a century in the first innings. Some other words that belong to this category are SPECTACLES, SCISSORS, TROUSERS, etc, etc.
Pronouns are one of the most commonly mistaken ingredients of grammar. We often come across sentences like "Me going to Gulmarg with friends" on the social media like ‘Facebook’. The correct sentence is "I am going to Gulmarg with friends." This is because ‘ME’ is the ‘Objective Form’ and it cannot be used as ‘Subjective’. In other words, ‘ME’ receives the action. ‘I’ in the above mentioned case is the doer of the action, i.e, it is a Subject and, hence, the ‘Subjective Form’ of the pronoun must be used which is ‘I’. For those who have a basic understanding of the concepts of ‘Subject’ and ‘Object’ of a sentence, this explanation should not be hard to understand.
Similarly, ‘Embedded Questions’ are another grammatical concept that is used incorrectly by many. Most commonly, it is confused with an ‘Interrogative’ sentence. It may be worth knowing that there are two big differences between an ‘Interrogative’ sentence and an ‘Embedded’ question. One, an ‘Embedded’ question does not take an ‘Auxiliary’ verb between the Question word and the Subject. Secondly, it doesn’t end in a ‘Question’ mark. An ‘Embedded’ question is basically a positive sentence telling the readers how something happened or how something was done; it doesn’t ask its readers a question. Example sentence: This writeup is an analysis of how English language poses trouble at times.
Postscript: English is a universal language. Reading more and more and making deeper studies on grammar and usage may surely help in developing a mastery over the language. By doing this, one may be less prone to committing mistakes while dealing with the delicate ingredients of the language. This will also boost one’s confidence while speaking and/or writing.