This is something I’ve been thinking about lately (and yes, I know I haven’t been looking very specifically at the English language these last few days: I promise I’ll do something about grammar or etymology tomorrow). Tomorrow you see, I’ll be conducting the orientation for the teachers who’ll be in our school’s Junior Summer School, teaching teenagers. And so at this time, as well as at others throughout the year, my mind turns to training, and what approach to take. And there are many ways it can go, and a lot of factors to consider, such as:
Yeah, I Seen Her (That is to say I Saw Her…)
I seen that guy yesterday.
I done a lot of work yesterday.
Reading those sentences in your head might drive you crazy. Such terrible grammar!, you might say to yourself. And yes, they are grammatically incorrect. They should be, of course:
I saw that guy yesterday.
I did a lot of work yesterday.
What interests me about such utterances is: how wrong are they really, and why do people get so annoyed by them? First, let’s look at how exactly they’re wrong.
The two sentences are examples of the past simple tense, referring to a discrete action in the past. To construct this tense, we need a subject (I in both these cases) and a past simple form of a verb (to see becomes saw, to do becomes did). We might also have an object of that verb, and quite possibly a time indicator like yesterday. Continue reading