October 19

Why do native English speakers sometimes use incorrect grammar?

By Dr Julian Northbrook

If you listen carefully, you’ll hear native English speakers use incorrect grammar. Sometimes it’s simply a mistake, but sometimes we do it deliberately. Why?

At school, you were taught grammatically correct (but often weird sounding) English. But in reality, the way people use a language isn’t this simple.

Sometimes we simply make mistakes.

Some things—like “there’s people”—we say are clearly wrong, but so frequent everyone says it.

Some things we say are very natural but ungrammatical, others are grammatical but unnatural. In fact, Michael Lewis argues that English can never be “correct” or “incorrect” – it’s all about the context, and what we’re trying to do with what we say. You see, sometimes we say things deliberately wrong or in a weird way for dramatic effect.

This topic came up in a recent member’s Group Coaching Call, so I made a video talking about it:

The point is, real language is messy and fully of subtitles. Research in Conversation Analysis is very clear about this, and the idea is not new. But what it means is,  if you want to perform at a “nativelike” level in English, then the approach you take to learning must go much, much deeper than simply learning surface level grammar rules or words.

What if you need my help doing this?

If you’ve already reached a fairly high level in English, but you’re struggling to go beyond that and understand the subtitles of how people speak, as well as speak at a native-like level yourself, you might be a good for for the MEFA Group Coaching course – Information Here.

Julian Northbrook

Getting Help Mastering Spoken English

If you're looking for help speaking extraordinary English with confidence, here's where you need to go:

  1. Start with my free Rocket Launch Method training.
  2. For most people, then going on to the MEF Accelerator course is going to be the best option.
  3. If you’ve graduated MEFA (with at least an 80% completion rate), already know what to do, but need more help getting it done consistently (or you’ve come across new challenges since finishing the course) Extraordinary English Speakers is the place for you.
  4. If you're a non-native English teacher who wants to feel confident teaching in class, and also apply my methods to what you do: contact me

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