English As A Fourth Language

I’m due for an update, I know, and I sincerely apologize for a lack of one. It’s just, you see, I started my classes. And then everything went chaotic. …”became chaotic”?

For one of my classes, whilst we read and analyze novels such as Things Fall Apart (novel titles are to be underlined), dramas such as Tartuffe (drama titles can be underlined or italicized), poetry such as “Ozymandias,” and essays such as “The Prince” (both poems and essay titles are to be put in quotes), we are being tested on our knowledge of the so very wonderful English language.

I have never doubted anything more in the world than I’ve been currently doubting my ability to write (not so much speak) English. …See, I’m not even sure if that sentence is grammatically correct. Gah!

I’ve heard it many a times before that the English language is one of the most difficult languages to learn but speaking four languages (ahem, bragging moment for me here: thank you, thank you very much), English has surprisingly come naturally. I know how to make subjects and verbs agree, to eliminate jargon, sexist language, and clichés (I admit that sometimes I use clichés), to use active verbs instead of passive ones, to use adverbs and adjectives appropriately, and to know the difference between “they’re, their, and there” and “you’re and your.” But open up the grammar book we had to purchase for this class and ka-blam! confusion and doubt shout “we’re here to mess up your brain!”

“An example!” you’re probably thinking, “give me an example.” Hhhhwhhhell, here are several:

Common irregular verbs:
The base form for the verb hang (suspend) is hang; the past tense is hung; the past participle is hung.
The base form for the verb hang (execute) is hang; the past tense is hanged; the past participle is hanged.
The base form for the verb shrink is shrink; the past tense is shrank; the past participle is shrunken.

There’s a simple present tense, a simple past tense, a simple future tense and then they all have singular or plural choices. Same for the present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect tenses. And don’t forget the past progressive, future progressive, present perfect progressive, past perfect progressive, and future perfect progressive. Blah!

And there is always, always an exception to every rule they tell you.

Found on some page in the book is a description I’m sure the editors thought would help: “The pest perfect tense is used for an action already completed by the time of another past action. This tense consists of a past participle preceded by had.”
There you go! Hope you understood that. Aie.

I study. Don’t you doubt that I study. So on a more positive note, my studying is paying off! I’ve received 100% on both of the English tests we’ve taken!

Please don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the revision of what I’ve learned (for example when to use who vs. whom) in the past, but sometimes, I don’t recall ever learning some of this stuff, or at least learning it in so much depth. Revision is good. Revision is good, ladies and gentlemen! And my professor, after teaching English and the likes for twenty-eight (!!!) years, is incredible with her knowledge of this confusing language. It awes me most of the time.

Come the end of this trimester, my status as an editor will have reached the maximum level, I’m sure of it. And I do believe it will all get easier with repetition and more tests. Except please don’t send me your papers to edit. Except if you’re my dad, then it’s okay.

Yes, please.

Side note: if you’re knowledgeable in the English language and are reading this and notice mistakes, please don’t judge me, or any of my other posts for that matter. Feel free to point out what needs correction, though. There’s a comment box somewhere under this post.


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