Language, Grammar and Thinking

Language, Grammar and Thinking

By Jerry Rhodes, Founder

close up of typography, language

Native speakers of a language learn correct syntax without realising it. Syntax is the order of words in a phrase or sentence. It determines the rules that govern how words are combined and arranged in phrases, clauses and sentences that make sense and carry meaning.

If you give a foreigner a long list of words available in a dictionary, he could not put them together meaningfully without understanding their relationships and structure: that is, their grammar.

Grammar provides the engineering of thought.

Nouns and verbs are rather like

  • matter and energy,
  • space and time,
  • difference and change,
  • objective & subjective.
Thinking is intertwined with Language and Grammar

Very simply, put at rock bottom, you think in order to cause or avoid something – to make it more or less likely to happen than if you didn’t think about it. And this comes about by making connections in your head. Thoughts connect in a variety of ways, joined by language and shaped in grammar. 

The brain’s network consists of nodes rather like nouns and connecting activities like verbs. This is an analogy. Things or events can be seen as nouns, whilst connectors can be thought of as verbs.

Neural networks courtesy

Nouns and Verbs, Thoughts and Thinking

In your invisible world of mind, thoughts act as nouns, the data of what you think, and thinking acts like a verb to process how you do it.

In our work we have explored the ‘how’: and developed ways and means to show you how you can think about how you think. This is a special approach to metacognition, which has been used in businesses, universities and selected schools across the world.

How Thinking Works

Jerry Rhodes explains the significance of the How and What of thinking

Why is it important to know about this?

Your language, grammar and thought construction impacts everyone around you, especially your children who are mopping up and mimicking every habit of speech you use.

By examining your own use of language, most especially the verbs you use, you take a giant step into how the fundamentals of grammar shape how you think.

Three fundamental thinking structures

Here’s a diagram which reveals just how fundamental some verbs are. Focus on the top line of so-called auxiliary verbs and see how the words below each show huge contrasts in meaning and effect. 

Three columns headed from the left, ‘Should, Is/Was, Might’, with descriptors under each

Auxiliary Verbs from Jerry Rhodes’ online programme ‘How you Think’ available from the Shop

It is possible that you have never before experienced these words aligned in this way, with the descriptive words underneath that explain, in brief, something of the import of each of them. They reflect a profound difference in thought when you move from one to the other.

How sensitively you can understand your use of words is explored in our work – with ramifications that stretch into every nook and cranny of life. Verbs are the precious processes of thinking through which you live, move and grow your mind.

Grammar explains and clarifies our thoughts, essential for making sense of all the words we forge. In order to think, we need the twin structure both nouns and verbs. Which of course implies the importance of vocabulary – learning new nouns with their prepositions, qualifier adjectives and conjunctions; and new verbs with their own prepositions and modifying adverbs. All enrich the quality accuracy and completeness of thinking.

Your children are introduced to grammar within families

It just happens, within everyday talking. Our weekly newsletters for Families aim to support this natural development, bringing new games which identify the fundamental verbs of thinking. Each week a Thunkie cartoon character, representing a verbal action in the mind, introduces a game.

With a light touch, families can play the games which are grounded in the grammar of thinking: new ideas are absorbed without any formal teaching, illuminating and extending the kinds of thinking that goes on in your family.

Closing thought

Giving your children the gift of a rich language, spoken with love for the words you use, is such an important start in life:

  • with books read to them from an early age,
  • conversations that explore science and engineering, the natural world, relationships and art,
  • and delight in the play with words, as in poetry, quizzes and jokes.

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