The above statements are grammatically correct and meaningful because they obey certain rules of English grammar. The first sentence has “this” which is an adjective that qualifies the noun “book.” “This” is also a determiner or pronoun.
It helps us to know what type of book we refer to. It could have been “That book.” It also shows us that the noun that must follow must be in its singular form. That is why the “book” is singular. In the second sentence, “These” is also a pronoun and an adjective.
“These” is the plural form of “This.” That is why the noun that follows it is in the plural form – “books.” “Good” in the two sentences help us to know the kind of books that are being described. They are not bad books. We have applied simple English grammar rules here. If the subject is singular, the verb must be singular, if the subject is plural, the verb too must be plural.
The subject in the first sentence is “This book.” We also call it a noun phrase. The verb there is “is.” While the noun phrase or the subject of the second sentence is “These books” while the verb is “are.” Anything like BIG grammar here?
It is thus obvious that people mistake “grandiloquence” for “grammar.” You are being grandiloquent when you use high-sounding words in your writing or speech. In the Newsweek of 24 May 1999, George F. Will wrote: “She never allowed her spirit to become, as, say, Henry Adams did, curdled by long exposure to Washington’s tawdry and pompous aspects.”
Can you explain that? I guess you are thinking “BIG grammar.” Right?
Rob Long, in the National Review of 26 Sept. 2005 wrote: “So as the pictures of flooded shanties flicker by on cable news, uptight neatnik Midwestern Lutherans and sensitive northeastern urban sophisticates and pompous media grandees on both coasts express shock at the unexpected squalor of the poverty and bafflement over the slovenly corruption of the civic institutions.”
Do you understand? Big grammar?
Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon reacted thus to Dana Plane crash: “We must halt this ludicrously, lugubrious kakistocracy. We must demur against demuren (no onomatopoeic extrapolation intended). The quotidian stentorian atribilous ululation is abyssopelagic. The country is on a precipice of pocalyptic crepuscle.”
Let me not waste time asking you whether you understand that or not. What is important here is correcting your confusion between BIG grammar and BIG or high sounding, pompous words. It is semantically wrong to describe grammar as being big because nothing is big in any grammar of any language.
If you study the above examples of grandiloquence closely, you’d realize that the grammar (how the words are brought together) is not BIG in any way. The structure of a simple English sentence is still obeyed – Noun phrases, verbs and objects. What is larger than life in those statements is the actual words used. And those words can be aptly be described as grandiloquence, orotundity, bombast, verbiage. A person’s grammar can either be good or bad. If your grammar is bad, you string up nonsensical sentences such as:
Of course you may have other beautiful adjectives to qualify somebody’s grammar but do not say “ Her grammar is BIG” or She speaks BIG BIG grammar” when in the real sense the person uses high-sounding words to describe a simple situation, something Alexander Pope calls lifting a feather with a great strength.
Omidire, Idowu Joshua studied English at the University of Lagos. He is a writer and editor for several publication outfits. His works have been published by several online magazines.