Learning Syntax

Often times I notice that many people have a hard time getting used to word order when learning a new language. It’s important because it’s key for semantics. There’s a simple trick that I like to use when I come across tricky clauses (sentence particles that are dissimilar to what I’m used to), I use what I call a ‘starter phrase.’

A starter phrase is an example phrase that you can jot down and repeat over and over in your head or out loud in order to internalize how the foreign word order is so that it comes naturally in the future. When I was learning German for the first time I had a simple starter phrase that ignored context completely and only focused on exemplifying German word order. ‘Ich bin ein großer Wecker’ was the phrase. It means, “I’m a big alarm clock”, not something one can use in context but it got me used to pronunciation, gender agreement, conjugation, a special character (ß), etc.

That is just one example of a starter phrase, I like to have one for most occasions that I consider helpful. The nice part is that when I’m used to this phrase I can substitute the necessary parts of speech to conform to the appropriate situation. Let’s say I want to say that I’m a ‘student’ instead of an ‘alarm clock’, just switch the nouns.

Hopefully that’s helpful to some of you. Let me know if you have any other ways of learning syntax.