Sunday 21st August 2016: Is Scots grammar different from English? (and other languages?) (eg. “I’m away” is present but used for future = going away)


There are plenty of interesting grammatical features of Scots. They tend to be seen as much less acceptable than differences of vocab. I suppose because we all have grammar hardwired into the brain (if you don’t agree, take it up with Chomsky), we can’t help but feel other people’s grammars are incorrect. It is hard to believe that in some areas of the West Country, it is grammatical to conjugate ‘to be’ as:

I am

you am

he/she/it am

But it IS grammatical. It is grammatical in Scots to use the double modal, for example: ‘I’ll can come on Tuesday’, meaning ‘I am able to come on Tuesday’. The use of ‘will’ and ‘can’ together, both modal verbs, is not grammatical in Standard English, but it is in Scots.

The best way to learn about the differences between Scots and Standard English grammar is to take a look at two excellent books: Modren Scots Grammar by Christine Robinson, and A Scots Grammar by David Purves. If you want a work-book, have a go at Grammar Broonie by the excellent Matthew Fitt. It’s fun to even skim through any of those books and go, ‘Oh yeah! I recognise that! Here’s me thinking ‘here’s me’ was ungrammatical.’


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