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Do you know? A grammar question

Discussion in 'Primary' started by Harribear, Nov 28, 2015.

  1. Harribear

    Harribear New commenter

    I have found that with the changes to the curriculum, I am really having to polish up my grammar skills. I was hoping someone could explain the necessity for the word 'to' in a sentence, as the children in my class have a shocking habit of leaving it out. They will often say, 'Can I go toilet,' or, 'I went town'. I really want to explain why this is incorrect, but have found that I don't actually know the grammatical reason! Any help would be appreciated.
  2. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Technically 'to' in connection with a verb indicates the 'infinitive' or stem of a word e g to go, to walk, to be etc.
    In your example the infinitive of the verb is to go to . . ., Can I go to the toilet? I went to the town being the 1st person past tense.
    aspensquiver likes this.
  3. Harribear

    Harribear New commenter

    Thank you for your reply. I will make an attempt at explaining this to the children, if they see it as being connected to the verb, we may get somewhere. Now to deal with 'should of,' 'could of,' and 'would of'.
  4. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    could and should are auxiliary verbs, could indicating possibility and should indicating conditional tense.
    to have is the infinitive.
  5. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    It's a preposition (prepositions usually come before a noun and in your examples indicate movement and direction "to the toilet" "to town"
  6. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    They are actually saying "should've", "could've" and "would've", where 've is a short form of 'have'.
  7. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    You are quite correct Msz it is a preposition indicating where the noun is going 'to' I was always taught to link it to the verb in the infinitive as 'to go + preposition' hence to go to or to hang on (the wall) etc.
  8. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    @Harribear this might prove to be a useful purchase:

  9. Harribear

    Harribear New commenter

    Thank you for your replies. We have covered prepositions so I will relate this to our work.
    Generally, I feel that the grammar I use to speak and to write, is generally sound, but can't actually remember being taught any at school! In terms of teaching it now, it is almost like being able to solve a calculation, but without having any idea how you did it. It is a real shame that children aren't picked up on their spoken language at home. I do distinctly remember my mother constantly nagging, when I dropped the 't' sound in words such as - thirty, forty and fifty. I now nag my children the same!
    (I do know that should of is should have by the way!)
  10. cassandramark2

    cassandramark2 Lead commenter

    When training, I was told that pupils have the right to access 'standard English', the language of commerce and communication. This was seen as crucial to their future wellbeing in terms of employment. Straightforward and commendable.

    However, I can remember being advised, during my training, that they also have the right to use their local dialect and it was the knowledge of context that was critical. Therefore, asking a teacher for permission 'to go to the' toilet is necessary.

    I'm by no means an 'anything goes' softie (in fact, I'm the family and school pedant) but there's no way I'm going to waste my time worrying whether my Year 6s can unconsciously identify use of the past progressive or bandy around the subjunctive with aplomb. Were I to do so ;-) it would signal submission to the ill-conceived tosh that we've been handed in an effort to recreate Gove's schooldays.
    Jeremyinspain likes this.
  11. teacup71

    teacup71 Occasional commenter

    Is it 'May I go to the toilet?' because they are asking if they are allowed? haha
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  12. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    I'm sure you do know, but do the children? As you suggested that linking things to the verb might help with the previous question, I wondered if it might be similar for "should of". 'have' doesn't sound like 'of', but ''ve' does, so if you emphasise that it could be a way through... just thought it might be helpful.
  13. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    "Can I go toilet?"

    The "can" ( with a "permission" idea) is perfectly acceptable as part of Standard English dialect. Nothing wrong there at all. (Using the past tense "could" is more formal register as is the alternative modal "may".)

    (A "by the by", in clauses such as "I would if I could", both verbs are in past tense. There is no conditional tense in English any more than there is a future tense. We have a two tense system.)

    "go toilet" is interesting "local" dialect. It's treating the "to the" as redundant, which is a reasonable thing to do, isn't it? "I am going home" is Standard English.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  14. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    So, "I'm going toilet" and "I'm going Tesco" are on the same lines.

    Btw, bit of a mix up above - the talk about "infinitive" is irrelevant to the question.
  15. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Of course quite correct markuss! It's just to help when they move on to learning other languages it makes them more aware of the potential tenses.
  16. Jeremyinspain

    Jeremyinspain Occasional commenter

    May I (shall I, could I, can I) oh ****** it, I will anyway...
    Aside from all the 'Gove's schooldays' tricks they'll need to pass the 'Gove's schooldays' SPaG test, do also broaden their perspectives with a little of the linguistics that surrounds the whole topic of 'grammar' el al. They might end up seeing the Goves of this world for what they are, rather than simply aping them.
    I highly recommend anything by David Crystal, but especially (in the context of SPaG) 'The Stories of English' and 'The Fight for English'.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  17. Jeremyinspain

    Jeremyinspain Occasional commenter

    Wow! Neat how the TES instantly censored my (extremely mild) expletive (reggub, if you were wondering).
    Hello there, big (electronic) bro'.
  18. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Agree David Crystal is always good for reference.
  19. davidbowiefan

    davidbowiefan Established commenter

    Yes, its a preposition (not an infinitive as another poster said). Technically its a preposition of place but there's no need to get into this unless you're teaching other types of preposition as well. Its a word which shows the direction you are moving in. The example "I went town" doesn't make sense because we don't know if the child went to the town, from the town, around the town, near the town, etc. A preposition of place is needed to complete the sentence.

    "Could of" and "would of" indicate lazy pronounciation rather than a problem with grammar.
  20. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Actually it was me who said that.
    'to' can be part o In my example I had 'to go to' where the first 'to' forms part of the infinitive and the second a prep of place.
    i e It can form part of an the infinitive as in 'to go'
    and it can be also be a preposition of place as in 'she was going to' telling us where she is going.
    But, IMO coming from an MFL background, sometimes it can form part of the infinitive as in 'to go to' or 'to go off', 'to go out' where it adds particular information to that verb. Particularly useful when translating the verb 'to go' + preposition and help to choose which of the many options a dictionary would provide.

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