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Grammar By Instinct vs. Rules

Continuing with the MOOC that I am taking on English Grammar and Style, last week we covered adjectives. I can't believe I'm learning so much from this course that I didn't previously know! Below is my writing submission for the week.


I was fascinated by this week's adjective material, as it really highlighted how much of grammar I know solely by instinct rather than by rules.

The perfect example of this was the demonstration of the 'Royal Order of Adjectives'. I did not even realise that adjectives had to be placed in a certain sequence in order for them to sound 'right'. It is something that, as a native English speaker, has always just come naturally to me.

I had never been aware of any rules that I was following. For example, “big green apple” is how I would always order the adjectives without even thinking about it. Conversely, I would never say “green big apple”, as I didn't even think to order them that way!

I can now definitely appreciate the difficulty that this creates for people who are learning grammar and are not native speakers (or even for those that are!). There is no obvious reason why something like this is the way it is, but if you do get it wrong, most people would have increased difficulty in comprehending your sentence structure.

My wife is a fluent speaker of Greek, whilst I am not. Greek sentences also have their own grammatical structure, and I would get frustrated when she would explain something about Greek sentences to me without knowing the reasons why they were like that (at least relative to English grammar).

Before this week's material, I did not expect that I would find something about English grammar that fitted the same scenario.

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