Tag Archives: English Grammar

Will Latin grammar help me with Spanish grammar?

I received this question:

I’m 26 and currently learning French and later want to learn Spanish.  The only problem is that I have quite a bit of trouble with grammar. Do you think the visual Latin course would be helpful to learn French and Spanish?

 Here is my reply:

It’s certainly possible.  It sure helped me.

The grammar of Latin is far more behaved than the grammar of Spanish and French.  I have found the grammars of modern languages much easier to understand due to my study of Latin grammar.  

I actually failed English grammar in school.  On multiple occasions.  I also struggled with German grammar.  It was not until I studied Latin that it all came together.  

The nice thing about Latin is that it is essentially frozen in time.  The grammar is manageable because it does not change.  The grammars of modern languages are in constant flux.  

Let me know if you need more help!

Oh, C’mon.

I received this email:

Yesterday, a tutor talked to the parents about the importance of reviewing English grammar no matter what language they are studying.  

She told us that our kids can’t give the ‘logical’ grammar terms. For example, verbs don’t just show action.  There are helping verbs, transitive, intransitive.  Verbs have many different functions and without that knowledge these students will never get a foreign language.

These kids are intimated by her and I’m not sure how much I need to add of this to make sure she’s going to “get” Latin.

Can you speak into this, please?

Here is my whack at the hornet’s nest:

Complicated topic.  I need to blog about this.  I’ve actually thought of creating a grammar course (like Visual Latin) that explains English Grammar.  Maybe I will someday.  

The instructor is partially right.  Understanding English grammar certainly helps as you learn another language.  This is especially true with Henle Latin as Henle Latin is really an English grammar book posing as a Latin book.

On the other hand, I have several multilingual friends and many multilingual students who wouldn’t know a verb if it chased them through the streets and tackled them.  Meaning no disrespect… How in the world would her instructor explain that?   

And then there is this disastrous example.  I graduated from high school one month before my 20th birthday.  Embarrassing.  So, what happened?  I failed English three times.  Couldn’t identify verbs, nouns, adjectives, or adverbs under threat of torture.  I just didn’t get it.  My poor mother.  

Here’s the funny thing.  I spoke German.  Loved it.  Couldn’t wait to learn more. 

One month before I graduated from college, I discovered Latin.  As soon as college was over, I began teaching myself Latin.  No exaggeration, it was Latin that taught me grammar.  Latin taught me Latin grammar, obviously.  But, it also taught me English grammar.  Suddenly, English grammar started making sense.  

Sometimes you can’t appreciate your own town until you leave.  You have to visit other towns to appreciate your own.  It works the same with languages.  To understand English, I had to leave English for a while.  

English is easily my favorite language these days.  I love the words, the grammar, and all the nutty exceptions to every rule.  I once hated the language.  After all, it kept me in school longer than I wanted to stay.

I don’t agree with the teacher.  You don’t learn grammar in order to learn Latin.  You learn Latin, or other languages, in order to finally learn English grammar.


Diagramming prepositions

Here is the latest video in new series, Diagramming English.  In this video, you will learn how to diagram prepositional phrases.

These videos are particularly helpful for students learning Latin via First Year Latin by Robert Henle.

In “Henle” Latin, the author expects students to analyze, diagram and translate many sentences in each chapter.  Some of my students find this overwhelming.

This video, and the others in the series, will help students learn to acquire these new skills.  In this particular video, students learn to diagram prepositions.