For example, when was the last time you (assuming you are a native speaker of English) thought about these issues? These are the kinds of things we are learning about in this class.
1. Why do we say "I went to school," "I went to church," but not "I went to home," hmm??? WHY??!?
2. How many tenses does English really have? Does English even have a future tense?
3. Speaking of tense, do you know what "aspect" is? If I said to you past perfect progressive, would you know what the heck I meant?
4. Have you ever noticed that there are different kinds of verbs? For example, there are verbs ("activity verbs") that describe an ongoing action: run, walk, swim, study, etc. Then there are "accomplishment verbs," that describe an activity that has a well-defined end point: paint, make, build, write, and (according to my book), grow up. I love that last one - well-defined end point, indeed! How about "achievement verbs" like recognize, realize, and find? These are things that happen in a moment, not a process. Finally, there are "stative verbs." These I had heard of before. Stative verbs describe ways of being, indefinitely, and they include verbs like have, contain, seem, want, and like. One of the commonly taught aspects of stative verbs is that they don't take the progressive aspect (be + ing). However, language can change over time, and McDonald's slogan violates this "rule" about stative verbs: "I'm lovin' it."
5. Did you notice that the second sentence of this blog spot contains "aren't I"? Shouldn't it be "am'nt I"? Or "ain't I"?
6. Try to dissect the shades of meaning in "Stan sells vacuum cleaners," and "Stan is selling vacuum cleaners." How about "Did you go to Yankee Stadium?" and "Have you gone to Yankee Stadium?"? Or "She has completed her homework" and "She completed her homework"? And why can't we say something like "William has bought it last Saturday"? Why is it more polite to ask someone, "Could you close the window?" instead of "Can you close the window?" Use grammar to back up your answers.
And that's the most difficult part of this class - at no time is the correct answer "just 'cuz."
Thank goodness I have a background in linguistics or I think this stuff would truly be gobbledy-gook to me. I'm looking forward to the day when a student asks me why English does this or that and I can answer him/her with confidence...perhaps after checking my super jumbo size textbook (from which some of the above examples were taken): Celce-Murcia, M., & Larsen-Freeman, D. (1999). The Grammar book: An ESL/EFL teacher’s course (2nd ed). Boston: Heinle & Heinle.