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7 INSANE Grammar Rules from the DARK SIDE of the ENGLISH Language

What was I gonna say. I know what I’m doing I know
I’m doing. You think I don’t have a plan you think I don’t have a plan you’re wrong I
do you’re wrong. So English is an easy language is it? Some people tell me that.
Anyone who says English grammar is easy show them this video. Now I teach English.
I’ve been doing it for a long time and most of the time what I need to explain
is the standard grammar that you get asked every day. “What’s the difference
between the present perfect and the past simple.” How do you use MUCH and MANY how
do you pronounce the word MISCHIEVOUS? It’s MISCHIEVOUS by the way. How do you
spell chrysanthemum? Now this is the bread and butter for every English
teacher but sometimes in my research I came across some English grammar rules
that make you go Woooaahh!!! or nooooo!! and this is what we are going to look at today the
top seven ridiculous or obscure grammar rules in the English language that will
make you want to pull your hair out. Let me tell you that even most native
English speakers won’t be able to explain these rules. Most teachers won’t
know these rules so watch this video then ask your teacher if they know the
answer. OK that would be mischievous wouldn’t it?
This video is not for everyone but if you are a little bit of a geek, like me,
or you just want to know all the rules of the English language even the
strangest then join me in these tales from the dark side of the English
language. ah ha ha ha ha Hello and welcome to LetThemTalk so let’s
get straight into this the strangest and most obscure English grammar rules and
we’ll start with the plurals of fish now the word FISH is singular and plural but
the plural can also be FISHES both are correct I’m sure you know that but did
you know that some species of fish take an S plural and some don’t so for
example one salmon, two salmon… that’s right no S but one sardine two sardines
with an S one cod two Cod no S one tilapia to tilapias S one herring two herring no
S it’s crazy. seafood usually takes an S one lobster two
lobsters although krill that doesn’t one krill many krill. Some animals which are
also food, such as sheep, do not have an S one sheep two sheep the rules seem to be
pretty vague and I’m not sure I quite understand when you use the S and when
you don’t use the S myself and just to add something even more crazy into the
mix CANNON the word CANNON boom now one cannon two cannon. For the battle we
had five thousand cannon. so for number two we’re going to stick
with the subject of plurals now the English language has always been
something of a sponge soaking up words from different languages especially
French, which makes up about 40% of the origin of English words. French or
Norman French so there is the utmost respect for foreign languages and
foreign words that enter English we don’t have an Academy of the English
language so when a foreign word enters the language it kind of just sits there
and if it’s a noun do we respect the origin of the word and give it the same
plural as in the source language or do we use an English plural the S? Nobody
seems to agree and so in some cases there are two correct plurals that of
the original language and the English one. So for example STADIUM is the plural
STADIUMS (the English plural) or STADIA from Latin. OCTOPUS is the plural
OCTOPUSES the English one or OCTOPUDES from Greek. I’m not sure I’m pronouncing that
correct. in other cases only the foreign plural
is considered correct. OASES is the plural of OASIS and NOT “OASISES”
the plural of CRISIS is CRISES NOT “CRISISES” sometimes the plural word is
more common than the singular so the question is what’s the singular? Look at
these Italian words GRAFFITI is a plural now what’s a singular is it GRAFFITO? oh
look it’s a lovely graffito on the wall there by Banksy. what about SPAGHETTI?
I’ve got one SPAGHETTO. PAPARAZZI is the singular PAPARAZZO?
although yes I have seen that one. so if possible respect the original
plural or singular but be careful because you can sound very pretentious
so you could try to use the foreign plural if you know it but if not just use the S.
don’t worry about it. Anyway so over to you what’s the plural of these English
WUNDERKIND answers in the comments. the wunderkind stole a bonsai from the
Chateau. Punctuation god I hated punctuation at school and even as a
teacher I still get headaches with punctuation but I guess it’s important EM-dashes
EN-dashes and hyphens. Now you might think that all lines between words
are the same but let me tell you that they are not. There are three different
lines with varying degrees of length and believe or not this is pretty important
when writing. So let’s start with the hyphen The most common use of the hyphen
is to separate compound words and phrases and names so for example well no
mass-produced a five-year-old child jean-paul some names are hyphenated is
your name hyphenated now the En-dash is slightly longer than the hyphen and this
separates numbers or dates in a range so for example pages 117–123, 1925–1985 July–October. The em-dash is slightly
longer still and this separates words a bit like a comma and it’s used to add
some new information to a sentence so for example. “It’s the British — or rather
the Scottish, who make the best whisky.” “Nobody — not even his wife, suspected he
was the murderer.” “You can separate a phrase — just like this if you really want” Now the next one is about collective
nouns in English. One cow, two cows many cows, you say “a herd of cows” you
might know that, that’s quite common. Sheep, “A flock of sheep”. Also “a flock
of birds.” “A swarm of bees” but some animals have really bizarre collective
nouns “A parliament of owls.” “A mischief of rats.” “An ambush of tigers.” “An unkindness
of Ravens” an unkindness of Ravens? it’s not only animals, people — some collective
nouns of people include “a pound of pianists.” “A pratfall of clowns.” “A shuffle
of bureaucrats.” oh no there’s an unkindness of Ravens flying around in
the sky above my apartment. Now this next rule is a minefield even
the scholars of the English language can’t agree and I’ve been teaching it
one way for years and I find out that maybe that’s not correct anymore so this
is about possessives with S when you have a noun that ends in an S how do you
make it possessive? Sounds simple but it’s not. Let me give an example the
witnesses statements okay the witnesses does it have …S’S at the end
or just s’ now for years I’ve been teaching that both are correct you just
need to be consistent but after doing some research
many don’t agree. Some style books insist that you add an S if it’s a singular
noun “the boss’s birthday” “Dennis’s signature” but but some style
books say that for biblical and classical names you do not add a second
s so “Jesus’ sandle” No second S. “Moses’
stick” s no apostrophe. Now it seems crazy that biblical and classical names should
have its own rule but I know that Achilles’ heel is written S apostrophe
and there’s no second apostrophe that seems wrong so maybe some some truth to
that. Are we agreed? No because the New York style
manual says that all singular names should have one S followed by an
apostrophe and no second S for example “Dickens’ book”. “Paris’
best restaurant” but if the S at the end of the word is not pronounced then you
add a second S. “Arkansas’s governor” it’s a minefield and nobody seems to agree in
the end so the best rule is probably the one that I started off with choose the
one you like and stick with it. This is maybe the most obscure piece of
grammar that I found in English we use apostrophe S to mark a possessive don’t
we “Bob’s book” not “the book of Bob” so apostrophe s or s apostrophe that’s
how it is that is for a possessive case. sometimes refered to as the Saxon genitive
harking back a thousand years when English had a much more complex grammar
with lots of different cases all of which died out except the Saxon genitive.
we use it for names we use it for times as well. “Monday’s lesson”, “yesterday’s
breakfast.” i’m sure you know that but did you know did you know that in
one case in english we do not use the Saxon genitive. in Astronomy
when we are talking about stars in a constellation we use the Latin genitive.
so for example the star far far away called Alpha Centauri up there somewhere
it’s name of the constellation is Centaurus and it’s the first star belonging to
this constellation so we use the latin possessive Alpha centauri and not the
saxon genitive which would be Centaurus’s Alpha so in English we
usually use a saxon genitive except in astronomy where we use
that Latin genitive. remember that it’s important actually probably not. Did you know there are about a thousand French expressions that we use in the
English language some of them are very common some of them less so
some examples of common French expressions that we use in English
déjà vu, crème de la crème, faux pas Bon Appetit
bon voyage, au contraire but the question is how are you supposed to
pronounce these words in English? Now let’s have a look at the Bible of style
guides for British English fowler’s English usage who says “to say a
French word in the middle of an English sentence exactly as it would be said by
a Frenchman in a French sentence is a feat demanding an acrobatic mouth. The
muscles have to be suddenly adjusted to a performance of a different nature and
after it has to suddenly recoil to the normal state. It is a feat that should not
be attempted. All that is necessary is a polite acknowledgement of indebtedness
to the French language indicated by some approach. in some part, of the words to
the foreign sound” So if I understand that correctly you are not supposed to
sound French when you use a French expression in
English that’s wrong sorry French people you’re getting it wrong. You mustn’t
sound too English either you have to occupy that middle ground where people
know you are using a foreign word but not so much as it sounds like you are a
foreigner so for example you say so the bottom line is if using French
words in English don’t sound too French So if you know any weird grammar
rules that I haven’t mentioned then put them in the comments or if you know any
strange, bizarre grammar rules from your own language then we’d love to hear them
so put them in the comments thank you for watching see you soon

100 Replies to “7 INSANE Grammar Rules from the DARK SIDE of the ENGLISH Language”

  • Professor, your videos are amazing and I truly love it. I have just one request please make a video on phonetics

  • Professor, your videos are amazing and I truly love it. I have just one request please make a video on phonetics

  • For the rest of my life , I'll be extremely thankful for having a BRILLIANT TEACHER LIKE YOU. The lessons you 're teaching , the knowledge and skills that you have taught will be remembered forever while your inspiration will always give me the strenght to succeed sweetheart !!! If only everyone could have a teacher as wonderful as you , THE WORLD WOULD BE A MUCH BETTER PLACE !!!!!!!!!!

  • Even if I can sound not too French when i say French words in English, I still sound too French when i say English words in English.. Too bad

  • Hyphen –
    en-dash –
    em-dash —
    minus sign − (yes, It is different)
    I think it's true for every european language.
    In Russia we also have cool «quotes» that I've never seen in English (and likewise em-dash they are also missing on our keyboards, which is sad)

  • Hello. And I am very curious what can you say about this grammar argument ("than I" or "than me"):

  • Hello, Gideon! You are really genius. Brilliant! Here are the answers of mine about the plural forms of the loanwords of Bonsai, Seraph, Virtuoso, Flamingo, Château, and Wunderkind as follows:
    1. Bonsai
    2. Seraphs or Seraphim or Seraphin
    3. Virtuosos or Virtuosi
    4. Flamingos or Flamingoes
    5. Châteaus or Châteaux
    6. Wunderkinder or Wunderkinds

  • Thank you so much for this video: I love being shown how much there is still to discover in English. I was more or less familiar with the plurals and Saxon Genitive (although I fear there still are many examples that would be a surprise for me), but I wasn't aware of the Latin Genitive, it's fantastic! Now I only have to take up astronomy…

  • Very interesting lesson. Furthermore, wondering if the plural of "commando" might exist in English. Not in Italian I suppose. However, "commandos" wouldn't sound too bad. With reference to the plural of stadium, would it be possible that "stadia" applies to the biology only? I may be wrong, just an idea. Plural of virtuoso -> virtuosi

  • "An unkindness of ravens" will be my new nickname, it's enormously fantastic!
    Collective nouns are actually nice, there is a story behind each and it is an interesting part of linguistics.
    Considering fish, for example, in ukranian, which is my native language, it is singular by itself but in a phrase it could be treated like plural as well, without changes, although it has plural form. And to say, for example, "one fish" you have to add a suffix and an ending, to say 2 and up to 4 fishes you have to change an ending, to say 5 and up to 20 fishes you drop the ending. And now the climax – when you say 21 fishes it is singular again with suffix and ending as for one, 22-24 like 2-4 and 25-30 drops an ending, 31 is singular, ta-da-a-a!!!! and so forth. We have two forms of plural for many nouns indeed. Speaking of borrowed words like paparazzi, flamingo and many others – they don't have number. Oh, by the way, there is one fish called "ivasi" (herring's cousin by the way) which also does not have number but already sounds like plural.
    About possesives: every noun has possesive form and genetive form and you use them depending on whether the possessed object goes after or before subject.
    And a lot of other quirks and features could be found in my language.
    Great video, as always!

  • Thanks for making me laugh especially with the French words, i like the English pronunciation of the word "entrepreneur" 😃

  • Hello Gideon,thanks a lot for the confusing video… I have a question – do you always understand american words,especially slang?

  • Thanks! Do most native speakers even apply these rules properly?
    If you call a bunch of tigers "unkindness" instead of "ambush" can they get offended?

  • I can not refrain myself from expressing that your videos are superb and for those of us who feel the English language as second nature, your concepts come like mana from Heaven. In my eyes this video has been the best achieved of your remarkable capacity of histrionics to gather the attention of your audience. A real teacher. Chapeau!

  • Honestly your way of learning the lessons is more than wonderful that I love your channel which I benefited from so much thanks for your great efforts

  • Another beauty: The Statue of Liberty, not the Liberty's Statue )and is not a star)…
    Singular of Spaghetti is Spaghetto, but who is going to eat a single spaghetto?

  • Well, these days it's the Japanese who might be making the best- if a bit too dear- whisk(e)y.
    Brilliant lesson, I owe you a dram.

  • If some of these are a bit confusing don't feel bad. I'm a native English speaker and I didn't know most of these rules hah. Thanks Gideon! 👍👍👍

  • I've always thought that "octopi" is plural of "octopus" for some reason, although the word is of Greek origin and form "octopodes" makes perfect sense. But Merriam-Webster disagrees: On the other hand, doesn't recommend to use "octopi": Now that's confusing. ) Anyway, many thanks for the video!

  • Gideon, that's the most brilliant lesson of yours I've ever watched! You've actually blown my mind out. The dark side of the English moon is pritty terrible 🙂

  • The Latin genitive is not only used in astronomy. We have other expressions where it still exists even though we may only say the abbreviation. Anno domini, a.d., in the year of the Lord, exempli gratis, e.g., for the sake of example. Also some legal terms such as compos mentis, of sound mind, in loco parentis, in place of the parent, etc.
    I've been an English teacher for many years too. Good video!

  • I remembered "Parliament " from Chaucer's "Parliament of Fowls ". These expressions are so picturesque.

  • Is the same thing true for Spanish words that is true for French? If so, a lot of annoying people need to be informed.

  • I swear the collective nouns in English are the most ridiculous thing in the world of all the most known languages. Ridiculous!

  • Dear Gideon, I'm probably repeating the same thing for a while, but I have to say once again that you are the best! Keep it up!

  • Hello, im wondering the british form corrispondent to the American form:"will u stop it already?" with this 'already' carrying impatience.

  • Hello Gideon,I've just found this channel ,it's excellent!! I'm going to watch all videos you've made by now.You way of teaching is so enjoying and makes me remember much more than I do from the others teachers.Great job and keep it up please.
    By the way,in my opinion the music is a bit too loud in comparison to voice,especially while using headphones driving.I must turn it down everytime when it comes ,as it hurt my ears.Greetings from Poland!

  • Mr. Gideon, hello! Congratulations! Your videos are exceptional! I always look forward to your next one! Today's video has too much information. Once again, I had to keep notes. But, please allow me to tell you that the word stadium (στάδιον) is also Greek. Stadia (στάδια) is the plural in Greek — ancient and modern. In ancient Greece, it used to be a unit of measurement as well. Graffiti comes from the ancient Greek verb graphein (infinitives: γράφειν — γράφω) which means I write. I am not that smart, I am Greek, that is how I know all these details.
    Thank you again for the knowledge that you offer us so generously.

  • The plural ending -a originally comes from Greek. For example, the Greek word criterion, plural: criteria. In addition, the ending -is which becomes -es in the plural is also from Greek, such as analysis – analyses, crisis – crises. We do have a plethora of endings in our grammar! An interesting case of a plural in English that I would like to point out is appendix – appendices, a word derived from Latin. Once more, you've done an excellent video! Greetings from Greece.

  • Letthemtalk, which is the best English grammar for foreign students available on the market in your opinion? (for level advanced, from C1 on). Thanks in advance

  • American English: "There's other fish in the Sea!"

    British English: "There are plenty of other fish in the sea!"

    Americans don't give a fuk they voted President Trump FFS!! LOL

  • well very simple, when we have more than two "s" sounds in a word, you don't add a third "s" as it would sound awkward. Jesus's/moseses is not like deniss's, boss's.

  • English language is one of the top ten most difficult languages in the whole world. This is not an opinion. 🙏

  • Strange english grammar rules? I'm a bit confused trying to grasp the difference between those 2 sentences "Mother told John to go to a doctor" and "Mother told that John go to a Doctor". I know that one of them is subjunctive. But is there any significant difference between them when translated to another language?

  • Graffiti – you have to say something like "a piece of graffiti" for the singular. By the way, you say "English" in funny way. There should be a double g here: Ing-glish, not Ing-lish.

  • Wow, we have an implicit rule in Ukrainian and Russian for speaking English words in the middle of a sentence. And if it sounde exactly English, you are perceived as a pretentious interlocutor.

  • I love the contents of your channel, thank you for taking the time to help us with our diction. I do however believe that, if you are going to use a foreign word within the English language. It should therefore have the correct pronunciation from said region.

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