An Interesting Quora Q&A


Edited a bit to shorten it.

What grammar rules does your native language have that make no sense?

J Beckwith, B.M. Opera & Linguistics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst (2011). I teach English to non-native speakers. In English there are some rules that even when I explain them, I recognize that they are completely illogical.

  1. Quantities of “0” are plural. When you have 1 of something it’s singular. “It’s one degree Celsius”

But when you have 0 of something, it’s plural. “It’s 0 degrees outside.” “I have zero questions for you.”

2. Another number rule. When we use measurements before a noun, they remain singular, even when plural. I understand the logic behind this, but it still seems like it doesn’t make too much sense.

“The trip is two hours long.” But “It’s a two-hour-long trip.”

[I have to disagree with this one. Unlike many languages, the rule in English is that adjectives just don’t show number, period. Or gender, for that matter.]

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