SPaG homework conundrum from Michael Rosen

(5 Posts)
BreconBeBuggered Sat 26-Mar-16 11:25:18

Lots of discussion about this question on Twitter. I thought there might be scope for something more detailed here. DS2 and I agreed on an answer, but his rationale was something along the lines of 'it's the kind of stupid answer they expect'.

Any thoughts from the pedantry team?

DadDadDad Sat 26-Mar-16 21:33:02

The fact that people who are knowledgeable about linguistics appear to be arguing about this is a bad sign. Of course, 11-year olds should be taught there are rules to grammar (eg that every sentence should contain a verb, that the verb needs to agree with the noun), but I can't see how this kind of technicality can be helpful at this age.

Just taking the first of the options "He was at school BEFORE you" - I expect the plodding brain that devised this question thinks that this option can't possibly be using a subordinated clause because "before" is followed by "you" and there's no verb in that bit. They clearly haven't thought about implied or deleted verbs (sorry, don't know the technical term) that the sentence is "He was at school BEFORE you were at school" but real speakers know that they can omit the "were at school" and still form a perfectly correct English sentence.

ThenLaterWhenItGotDark Tue 29-Mar-16 07:55:52

Elided verb.
On a very superficial glance, the only sentence I would tick is the last one, because although sentence 3 looks as if it has a subordinate clause, that comma shouldn't be there!

ThenLaterWhenItGotDark Tue 29-Mar-16 08:01:13

PS a) Mr Rosen would be far better asking non-native speakers with MFL degrees for the answer
b) I bet his kids hate him.

BreconBeBuggered Tue 29-Mar-16 11:26:29

I think you're right about asking non-native speakers. My own instinctive answer* came from a MFL perspective, but as a native speaker I could have tied myself into knots trying to justify it.

Perhaps Mr Rosen's kids like grammar questions? shock DS2 certainly does, but sees them as a purely theoretical exercise, and knowing a small amount of theory has had no bearing at all on his writing abilities. If asked he could easily point out mistakes, but that doesn't stop him merrily making his own.

*I neither know nor particularly care if I am right.

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