We know (as discussed in a previous post) that you don’t learn to make sentences by memorizing them. Rather, you pick up on general word order patterns—
Grammatical categories (categories like ‘noun’, ‘verb’, ‘adjective’, etc.) may seem mundane, but they actually bring tremendous power to human language.
How many sentences (actual or possible) are there in the English language? And of these, what’s the longest?
The ‘Wanna’ Puzzle In casual speech, English speakers commonly contract want to into wanna. This seems like it should be easy to explain: want+to=wanna, right? But in fact—as linguists often find when they study so-called ‘lazy’ or ‘sub-standard’ language—we actually use wanna in subtly complicated ways. Compare: (a) Contraction good: Who do you dance with? […]
Too Much in Love – Examples in Context The Puzzle: Verbs Gone Wild Auxiliary verbs are those little ‘pre-verbs’ that go before main verbs. English has a number of these, including: (i) be (e.g. John is eating.) (ii) have (e.g. John has eaten.) (iii) must […]