To what extent is the grammar rule ‘COULD is the past tense of CAN’ valid?
Professor Roger Berry of Lingnan University studied 195 university students in HK with regard to their understanding of 20 common grammar ‘rules’ in English, and the results are quite unsettling – many university students have ingrained impoverished understanding of some basic grammar features in English. Berry identifies 11 possible causes of these ‘grammar myths’, which include, inter alia, over-simplified treatment in textbooks, and teachers’ own misconceptions. You may wish to check out the 20 grammar statements Berry used in his study, and see whether they also represent your understanding of the grammar items concerned.
(1) The words HARD and HARDLY, though similar in form, are not related in meaning.
(2) ‘The comparative of adjectives is formed by adding ‘-er’ to one syllable words
and ‘more’ to words of two or more syllables’.
(3) ‘In type one conditionals (first conditionals), WILL does not occur after IF’.
(4) ‘UNLESS has the same meaning as IF þ NOT (attached to the verb)’.
(5) ‘In negative and interrogative sentences ANY should be used instead of SOME’.
(6) ‘In type two conditional sentences (second conditionals) it is wrong to use WAS after IF; WERE must be used instead’.
(7) ‘In reported/indirect speech, the past tense should be changed to the past perfect tense if the introductory verb is in the past tense’.
(8) ‘After verbs of perception (FEEL, TASTE etc.) adjectives and not adverbs are
used as complements’.
(9) ‘The first time you mention a countable noun you use the indefinite article
(A, AN); the second time the definite article’.
(10) ‘The verb WANT does not occur in progressive/continuous tenses’.
(11) ‘The present tense is used for present actions and the past tense for past actions’.
(12) ‘The future tense in English is formed by using WILL (and SHALL)’.
(13) ‘COULD is the past tense of CAN’.
(14) ‘English has three types of conditional sentences’.
(15) ‘The continuous tenses are used for actions that last’.
(16) ‘It is wrong to put prepositions at the end of a sentence’.
(17) ‘It is wrong to start sentences with conjunctions such as AND or BUT’.
(18) ‘MOREOVER, FURTHERMORE and BESIDES can be used when adding an
extra idea to a list’.
(19) ‘The subject of a sentence is the person or thing that carries out an action’.
(20) ‘The functions of pronouns in English is to take the place of nouns’.
(Berry, R. (2014). Grammar myths.LANGUAGE AWARENESS. DOI:10.1080/09658416.2013.873803.)