Helped A with her literacy homework this afternoon. She had to form sentences using words ending in -ness, kicking off with kindness and ending with absentmindedness. I think that's pretty hard for an 8-year-old. We started with an explanation of why Loch Ness doesn't count and ended with the positively brilliant Mr Forgetful is famous for his absentmindedness.
"What does absentmindedness mean?"
"Erm, the state of being forgetful... or simply forgetfulness".
"What does the state of mean?"
"Erm, being forgetful. So you have an adjective... and you add a suffix"
"What does a suffix mean?"
"I'm not sure. Anyway, it's the same as forgetfulness"
"So it could be Mr Absentminded is famous for his forgetful (10 second gap)... ness?"
It reconfirmed the fact that, although I can string together a decent enough sentence, I'd really struggle to explain the grammatical structure of it. I could, even now, just about describe a Latin sentence in terms of conjugation and declensions, but English? No chance.