It was interesting to read the story in today’s papers about teachers struggling with English grammar.

Grammar teaching has gone in and out of fashion throughout the years. As a result, some people can instantly explain what a subordinate clause is while others struggle to describe an adverb. And the poor teachers who missed out on a grounding of grammar are now facing the prospect of frantically trying to fill in the gaps.

My own primary school was extremely hot on the basics – no pupil left that place without a thorough understanding of how to use an apostrophe and a keen awareness of the difference between a comma and a colon. I was also fortunate that my late father, a BBC journalist and pedant extraordinaire, would pick me up on any incorrect use of language. I also had a voracious reading habit that stood me in good stead.

I am acutely aware that people’s ability to use English effectively and correctly stems more from when and where they went to school than how intelligent they are. Many extremely bright people struggle with everyday writing because they were just never taught.

I am pleased that my children will study grammar in more depth, and I hope their teachers are up to the challenge. If they’re not, maybe I’ll just have to slip them a Sentence Work business card at parents’ evening.

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