Sentence 011 Let the cat out of the bag.
011 He was the greatest hero in our Medieval History.
011 She was the greatest heroin in our Medieval History.
011 They were the greatest heroes in our Medieval History.
Leslie: Which of the three sentences is the worst?
Eve: I cannot really tell you. I think that all of the three sentences are equally correct.
L: If we think of most of the Coursebooks and Grammar Books, you are right. You can find thousands of very similar sentences in them.
The bad news is that all the three sentences above are equally incorrect.
L: The problem is Prescriptive Grammar. The Grammar that tells Students and Teachers how to make sentences. They do not care too much about the meaning, and the Comprehension of the Students.
E: Is there a different kind of Grammar?
L: If we change our scope, and focus on the Communicative Approach to the Language, the Person-Centered Approach to Students, Teachers and Parents, and Humanistic Psychology behind them, we have to care about Comprehension more than ever before.
E: Why are these sentences incorrect and what is the solution?
L: Instead of telling you the solution, I want to invite you into doing an exercise together. Are you coming with me?
E: Sure. I would be more than happy to learn with you.
L: I’m going to ask you a few questions about the first of the three sentences and if it goes well, you can transfer your understanding to the other two sentences as well.
E: Let’s go. I’m ready.
L: What is the first sentence?
E: ’He was the greatest hero in our Medieval History.’
L: Right. Can you make a Subject Question?
E: I’ll try. Hopefully, it will be correct. ’Who was the greatest hero in our Medieval History?’
L: Great! It is correct. By the way, can you answer this question?
E: He was.
L: OK. But what is the meaning?
E: I can’t tell you. Well, I have never thought about that. It is a problem.
L: You are right. If the Subject is ’He’, and it is the first or only sentence, we can call the Subject an Empty Subject. An Empty Subject has no meaning.
E: And what does the Sentence mean then?
L: The Sentence has two parts: the Subject and the Predicate. The Predicate is a statement about the Subject. If the Subject is Empty, the Sentence is meaningless.
E: There are many sentences like this in Coursebooks and Grammar Books. And we have to learn many of these sentences.
L: That’s the real problem. We have to make mental pictures of everything we want to learn into the long-term memory.
In Higher Grammar and in Linguistics we say that the Subject Pronoun has no Antecedent.
Can you make a mental picture of our hero?
E: No, I can’t. I think it’s impossible.
L: We can work a lot on these sentences, we can get tired, but the result will be very little if anything.
I hope you agree that all the three Sentences are equally bad.
E: I do and thank you for making this clear.
L: You are welcome. You can find a short video about a full Sentence Matrix for this Sentence HERE.