Can you answer this grammar question set for 11-year-olds? Schools minister Nick Gibb couldn't


In news that will have people everywhere cringing with second hand embarrassment (and wondering if they should dig out their Key Stage 2 English books), a Government minister incorrectly answered a Sats grammar question, while arguing against concerns by parents that Sats tests for primary school children were too prescriptive and risked putting them off reading.

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Schools minister Nick Gibb apparently failed to differentiate between a preposition and a subordinating conjunction while appearing on BBC Radio 4´s World At One. He was quizzed by presenter Martha Kearney on his own grammar skills.

"Let me give you this sentence: 'I went to the cinema after I'd eaten my dinner'," she said. "Is the word 'after' there being used as a subordinating conjunction or as a preposition?"

"It's a preposition," Gibb replied confidently, only for Ms Kearney to shoot back: "I don't think it is. In this sentence it is being used as a subordinating conjunction."

Gibb protested: "'After' is a preposition. It can be used in some contexts as a word that co-ordinates a sub-clause."

Nope, sorry Nick. People on Twitter were not impressed by Gibb's blunder.

Gibb argued: "This isn't about me. This is about ensuring that future generations of children - unlike me incidentally, who was not taught grammar at primary school - we need to make sure that future generations are taught grammar properly."

Asked what conclusions could be drawn from Mr Gibb's blunder, Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokeswoman said: "I think it reflected the fact that what we are about is equipping future generations with a better grasp of reading, writing and maths skills."