WORD OF THE DAY
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How to Learn Arabic
© Saqib Hussain
5 English Grammar
This may seem like a strange step for someone who wants to learn Arabic, but it is a sad truth that the average level of English grammar teaching in schools is very poor. You may already have learnt basic English grammar simply by virtue of studying Arabic through a Arabic grammar textbook. It's a good idea to take that a step further, and learn some English grammar directly.
The benefits in doing so are numerous. Firstly, if you are reflective as you study English Grammar, and think about whether or not you know how to express in Arabic the tenses, the structures and the various kinds of phrases that you come across, it will highlight weak points in your Arabic.
For example, no Arabic textbook would teach you how to form the present perfect continuous tense (e.g. 'I have been doing') in Arabic. The reason is that Arabic has no such tense, as such. By studying English grammar, you would learn this tense, and then could think about how to express similar notions in Arabic. If you have done a sufficient amount of Arabic reading before getting to this stage, then a bit of reflection will reveal the answer.
(You have to use the muḍāri' in conjunction with a preposition like mundhū, meaning 'since,' to convey the meaning of the present perfect continuous).
Secondly, this stage is a preparatory step for the last and final stage of your advanced Arabic education, namely naḥw (classical Arabic syntax). To fully benefit from a study of Arabic syntax, it makes sense to have a grounding first in the syntax of your own language.
There are of course many, many books on English grammar. I would recommend to get you started Rediscover Grammar by David Crystal and, for easy reference and a little more detail, Everyday Grammar or A-Z of Grammar and Punctuation, both by John Seely. At a more advanced level, try A Student's Introduction to English Grammar by Huddleston and Pullum.