How much grammar & idiomaticity can be “learned”?

An example of idiomaticity: in Russian, the verb “is” gets replaced by concrete verbs like “stand”, “sits”, “lies”, “hangs”. So the lamp sits on the table, the book lies on it, the jacket hangs in the closet, and the statue stands in the park. Just as English can use these words as well in these contexts, so Russian can us “is”; but idiomatically, Russian routinely uses these concrete verbs for indicating the existence of something whereas English prefers “is”. Where these verbs are not appropriate, others are used, e.g. stars shine, rivers flow, etc. Voices are heard and houses are seen in the distance.
These are existential sentences, i.e. stating the existence of something. It can get pretty refined, as when the verb “stands” is used with processes or actions that lack inner structure e.g. noise, while “goes” is for organized states e.g. shooting stands in the street means a barrage of shots whereas shooting goes in the street means you can tell there are two sides firing at each other, etc. Pretty tricky, huh?
Such sentences in English usually require “there” as a dummy subject. In such case, the thing/person that is “there” is usually a new item, a comment, and so has to come after the verb “is”. If the thing/person is known, i.e. the topic, then it comes first, thus:
The secretary was in the office vs In the office was a secretary.
The idea that rules this complex (thanks to Nakhimovsky and Leeds Advanced Russian pp. 160-162 for examples and discussion) can be taught, practiced and thus acquired seems pretty nonsensical. These are learned/acquired via lots of input, which, for grad students, usually comes in the form of reading.

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