Let’s talk grammar.
Don’t be scared. We won’t be forcing you to learn any grammar in this post, but let’s just talk about it.
In most classes that I’ve been in, grammar is what holds students back. They memorize the words, they can read a little, write a little, but they just can’t get their nominatives and non-nominatives straight.
I’ve seen very capable students drop out of Arabic classes because they couldn’t keep up with the grammar. The way courses are designed, there’s rarely an option to skip the grammar and few students would dare think, what if I just skip this part for now.
Why talk about grammar?
Because from what I’ve seen, most people have no idea what grammar actually is and what it can do to help them.
When people fail a test because of the grammar section, they never ask themselves, have I made progress towards my Arabic goals? They simply think, “I failed.”
Grammar is more than just a torture device. It’s a tool.
Like any tool, you should know why you need it and how you’re going to use it before you invest your money into buying it and you invest your time into learning how to use it.
With Arabic grammar, we just assume that we’re going to need it because it’s included in every Arabic course.
So what is grammar anyway?
If you’ve never thought about this question, that’s the first sign that maybe you don’t need to be studying grammar.
Here’s the answer: Grammar is the study of words after they are entered into a sentence.
So why would you need to study grammar? And why might you NOT need to study grammar?
Who needs to study Arabic grammar?
Arabic grammar is a study. That means it’s like biology. If you’re mom, maybe you need to know that bees sting and ants bite, but you don’t need to know the scientific names of ants and bees.
On the other hand, someone needs to know them. A biology teacher needs to know them. A biological engineer needs to know them.
Similarly, if you plan to ever teach Arabic or if you want to become a grammarian (yes, that’s a thing), then you need to know advanced Arabic grammar.
Who doesn’t need to study Arabic grammar?
This question is a little more tricky.
Remember my example about the mom. If you want to be a mom, you need to know a thing or two about biology. If you want to speak, read, and understand Arabic, you need to understand some Arabic grammar.
But, that doesn’t mean you have to study it.
There are 2 ways to learn Arabic grammar. One is through intensive study. The other is through learning words and phrases and using those words and phrases.
If you’re reading this blog, then you probably already know how to speak English. You may have studied English grammar in school, but chances are you don’t remember it. You don’t walk around analyzing sentences, you just speak and write and read. These are all ways of learning and implementing grammar.
If you’re not planning on being a teacher or a grammarian, then you need to learn the rules of grammar from someone who understands them but might not need to study the rules yourself.
That also doesn’t mean you have to study advanced Arabic grammar.
When most people think of Arabic grammar, they think of painfully long explanations of a single word. If you don’t, that’s great. That means you have a teacher who realized that there are LEVELS to Arabic grammar.
You can study basic Arabic grammar without feeling like you’re trying to solve a Rubix cube with one hand tied behind your back.
If you are making progress in your Arabic speaking and reading, but the grammar is just flying over your head, let it fly and just keep on studying. Not all levels of Arabic grammar are appropriate for every student.
If you can read and think pretty well in English and you don’t know advanced English grammar, then you’ll probably have success reading and thinking in Arabic without studying advanced Arabic grammar.
One last note, this post isn’t to discourage anyone from learning Arabic grammar. Arabic is an amazingly well organized and poetic language. For some, learning Arabic grammar can help them gain a deeper understanding of Arabic and a deeper appreciation for the Quran and hading.
But Arabic grammar is an ocean. It is a broad and deep field of knowledge that shouldn’t be taken lightly. But before you dive in, think about your Arabic goals and how studying Arabic grammar fits in with those goals.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on advanced grammar below. Has it helped you? Have you struggled with it?