Yup I said it... Just got finished taking my Greek test I thought I was going to easily pass... I left about 1/4 to 1/2 the test blank, everyone in the class fared the same or worse.
We were forced to take Grammar class in High School because our school had one of the lowest Grammar scores in the entire area. I still got Cs and Ds in that class. School House Rock didn't even help...
Why can't we just do away with certain details of grammar?
I still have no clue what a Pronoun is... So I have no chance of knowing what these are: Definite Article, Nominative Case, Accusative Case, Genitive Case, Declension, Enclesis, Indeclinable Nouns, Personal Pronouns, Emphatic Forms, Determiners, Interrogative Pronouns, Conjugation, Defective Verbs, Impersonal Verbs, Deponent Verbs, First-Conjugation, Second-Conjugation, Passive, Diacritics, Intonation, Parisyllabic, Imparisyllabic, Adjectives, Superlative, Relative Superlative, Absolute Superlative, Antecedent, Preposition...
If I have NO CLUE what those words mean in English, how are they supposed to help me learn another language?
I vote that if we teach people English or another Language, it ought to be done like they were learning it naturally growing up, not as if it's a piece of material to be studied, memorized, etc...
Thank the Lord most people in the world know English, I would be so screwed...
Besides, who actually uses proper grammar anymore?
(i'm sure i've just opened a pandoras box of heck to come my way)
I can help. I've been teaching English since 1997, and my B.A. is in Language and Literature. I might have to do some wikipedian-search to remember some concepts from classical languages, but I can quickly remember.
For starters, you have to differentiate the technical jargon of Linguistics and Grammar from language itself. It's with the jargon people get more trouble with. As any technical language, it exists to *help*, not to complicate. It makes things easier if you start to understand what those words mean.
For example: pronoun comes from "pro" and "noun". "Noun" comes from "name", just a sister form. "Pro" means "instead of".
So "pronoun" is the word that you use "instead of a name", literally. You have to remember that these words were created by people who actually enjoy language (and old languages) with the same enthusiasm the ordinary person loves baseball or soccer. So that's why they keep old Latin or Greek forms for the names of their concepts.
Back to the "instead of names", the pronouns. In English you have these:
I - me - my - mine - they all substitute *your* name.
You - you - your - yours (for one person)
He - him - his - his
She - her - her - hers
It - its - its - its
We - us - our - ours
You - you - your - yours (for more than one person)
They - their - theirs - theirs
Notice that all these words are used to substitute names, they are used "instead of(pro) names(nouns)", they are pronouns.
If you are following me until here, we can now expand the concept of what a "name" is. In usual language, it's just the names of people, places, etc.
In grammatical technical jargon, a "name" is every word that "names" *something*:
table, John, love, race, puppies, God, armpit, Nevada, mountains are all words that are *names* of the "objects" they refer to. So a "noun" is any word that you use to *name* anything.
Because a "name" has a slightly different sense from what the word "name" means in usual language, we call it "noun" - just a technical form for "name".
Notice that if we use a pronoun, and we didn't mention the *name* before, than we don't know what we're talking about. See, this sentence:
"They broke it."
Who are they? What did they break? In this sentence alone, we can't know, because "they" and "it" are used *instead of* nouns, but nobody mentioned what they are being used instead of.
Now see this.
"I bought a bottle of milk for the cats, but they broke it."
Now, "they broke it" makes sense. We know that "they" was used instead of "cats" and "it" was used instead of "bottle of milk". That is what pronouns are for: to avoid repeating names. See how cumbersome would the sentence be without pronouns: "I bought a bottle of milk for the cats, but the cats broke the bottle of milk". That repetition sounds bad and it *is* stylistically bad. The name for unnecessary repetitions in linguistic technical jargon is "redundancy".
Notice too, that you *already* grasp the concept, because nobody would ever need to explain what "they" and "it" refer to in that sentence. You only didn't know the technical language of grammar. I hope that has changed up to this point.
If you acquire a certain domain of that technical language, it will allow you to better shape your own language, because this jargon will be your tools. Just like an athlete has to master his tools - ball, bat, water, whatever it may be - to perform beautiful moves and strike points, we can express ourselves better, impress more and prevent being fooled by false arguments if we master the tools of language.