Linguistics

Learn Grammar Q&A: Verb Conjugations and More

I’ve been getting some really great questions via the contact form, and I thought some of the answers might be helpful for others, so I’m taking some of the questions and answers and putting them here!

Today we’ll cover a few questions regarding grammar.

Grammar

Q: How do you use Anki to work on grammar?

A: Most of the time, I use fill-in-the-blank style cards – the sort of stuff you’d see in any grammar workbook (in fact, I usually just copy a few examples from whatever grammar workbook I end up buying):

Front: Right now, he (to walk) to school. Back: Right now, he is walking to school.

Front: Right now, he is walking ___ school. Back: Right now, he is walking to school.

Q: What about verb conjugations?  Do you do conjugation tables?

A: You can see up above that I use some fill-in-the-blanks, but that’s not ideal for every conjugation of every verb (It’d make an awfully large number of cards).  It depends on the complexity of the verbs as to how many I pack into one card – at this point, I aim to have one new fact per card whenever possible.  So for regular verbs, I’ll have one example verb, say, “donner” French, to give, where I’ll really lay it out:

6 cards: (I, you, he, we, you(pl), they):

je (donner) -> je donne tu (donner) -> tu donnes il (donner) -> il donne nous (donner) -> nous donnons vous (donner) -> vous donnez ils (donner) -> ils donnent

I may even go backwards to really solidify it:

(donne) –> je, il donne (donnes) -> tu donnes etc.

Then for future verbs that fit the donner pattern, I’ll just use 1-2 cards per verb.  I might split the singular and plural conjugations just to reinforce it a bit more, but my brain’s just connecting the new verb with the pattern I’ve learned already, so it counts as 1 fact.

For irregular verbs, I’ll split it apart depending on how much I think I can easily remember in a card.  Depends on just how irregular it is.  I get more convinced every day that the more you can split facts apart into simpler chunks, the better.

Q: Russian grammar is a complete animal.  What kind of approach are you using so you don’t have to constantly calculate case endings? 

A: I drill case endings individually using example words of various genders and endings (all forms of работа, стол, чай, время, окно, море), and then I use fill in the blank cards to help drill which case goes where in normal sentences.

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