When I first came to live in the USA, good American friends would correct my grammar. One time when I said: “I read that book”. My friend told me that it was more correct to say: “I have read that book”. “But why?” I asked. “Both are in the past, why do I have to say: I have read? How come you guys have so many ways to say the Past Tense when Hebrew has only one way?” After some hesitation she said: “It just sounds better.”
“But how would I (an Israeli) know that it sounds better? I was not born here, haven’t heard English 18 hours per day for the past 30 years. How would I know if it SOUNDS better or not?” Needless to say that I was very frustrated. Does this sound familiar to you? You, who are learning a foreign language? Well, after a long time of groping in the dark I picked and OLD English grammar book (The OLD books are the best). Sat down and studied it. I was so thrilled to find the reasons behind the “It sounds good” explanation. Anyone telling you,”this is how you say it” without the grammar explanations, please don’t buy it. There IS a grammar explanation to almost anything. All you have to do is to find the correct books that don’t just teach you to repeat phrases like a robot but tell you the reasons behind it so that you would then be able to think WITH it and APPLY it every time.
If you never liked grammar at school, unfortunately as a student of a foreign language you will have to revisit it. Learn the Parts of Speech in your OWN language first and then you’ll find that you are having a much easier time in learning a foreign language.
Since I’m very familiar with the barriers that a student of a foreign language has to face I ensured that all my books (except for the Primer) have a fantastic glossary with grammar terms that are defined and explained simply and clearly.
Wishing you easy learning.