Every language has its own rules to follow, and English is not an exception. Knowing its basic grammar rules will provide you with a solid foundation for writing and reading. And, it will help you understand how English grammar works, thus improving your English even more.
So, here are the most important areas of grammar that elementary English language learners should be familiar with to speak and write correctly.
10 Basic English Grammar Rules
1. Noun and Verb Make a Sentence
A complete sentence in the English language must have a subject and a verb. For example, “I eat.” may be a short sentence, but it’s a perfectly normal sentence.
“I” is the subject, and “eat” is the verb. Of course, you can add as many words as you want in the sentence, but even if you keep it that way, it’s correct.
2. Adjectives and Adverbs Usually Have Their Own Place in the Sentence
To use adjectives and adverbs properly, you should be familiar with their general position in the sentence. In most cases, adjectives come before the noun as their purpose is to describe nouns. No matter if the noun is in singular or plural, the adjective remains the same.
Adverbs, on the other hand, usually come after the verb as their job is to modify the verb, or another adverb or adjective in the sentence. They also don’t change regardless of the form of the word they are modifying. Most English adverbs are formed by adding –ly to adjectives, although there are many exceptions, such as when the adverb is the same as the adjective.
Ex. She’s a beautiful artist. – Adjective
She draws beautifully. – Adverb
Ex. I’m a fast driver. – Adjective
I drive fast. – Adverb
3. Use a Conjunction to Link Two or More Ideas
You can link as many ideas as you want with a coordinating conjunction and create a longer sentence. These are joining words that are easy to remember with the mnemonic acronym FANBOYS.
Each letter here stands for the beginning of each conjunction – “for”, “and”, “nor”, “but”, “or”, “yet”, and “so”.
Ex. You’re late, so you’re going to play the last.
Ex. She likes to read a lot, but she doesn’t have time.
4. Be Careful with Homophones
There are many homophones in the English language or words with different meanings but with the same pronunciation. These can be very confusing, so it’s important to make difference between them, especially when writing.
- Ex. I – eye
- Its – it’s
- Your – you’re
- Their – they’re – there
- Flour – flower
- Hear – here
- Brake – break
- Hour – our
5. Know a Few Basic Prepositions That Describe Time, Movement, or Location
Learning at least a few of each type of prepositions will expand your vocabulary and help you express yourself more clearly.
Time – by, before, after, until, since, to, on, during, from, upon, through
Movement – into, onto, up, down, from, out of, upon, against, into, along, off, toward
Location – below, above, near, between, through, inside, by, beside, over, on, in
6. Use the Correct Form of Verbs
To determine the right form of the verb, you need to look at the subject of the sentence. If the subject is third-person singular or he/she/it, you either need to ad –s or –es to the root of the verb, or use a completely different form of the verb, especially when using the verbs “to be” and “have”.
Ex. I like watching TV.
She likes watching TV.
Ex. They have homework.
He has homework.
Ex. We are smart.
She is smart.
I am smart.
Also, when using the “There is/are” phrases, you must pay attention to the noun that follows them so that you can use the right form of the verb “to be”. If the noun is singular, you use “There is”, if it’s plural, you use “There are”.
Ex. There is a dog in the park.
There are dogs in the park.
7. Get Familiar with the Main Tenses
Even though you may not know all the English verb tenses yet, you should at least be familiar with a few of them which are most commonly used. These are:
- Present simple – for permanent situations and habits.
Ex. They live in Chicago.
- Present continuous – for actions happening at the moment and future plans.
Ex. We’re eating.
Ex. I’m flying to Canada tomorrow.
- Past Simple – for finished past actions.
Ex. I woke up at 8 AM.
- Present perfect – for past actions connected to the present.
Ex. They’ve written their homework.
- Will – for future plans and actions.
Ex. I’ll see you tonight.
8. Do Not Use a Double Negative
English sentences shouldn’t have two negative words or constructions because they can cancel each other out and make the whole sentence positive. Negative words include nothing, nowhere, no one, nobody, no, barely, seldom, rarely, hardly, and scarcely.
Ex. I don’t have no extra pair of sunglasses.
Ex. She doesn’t want to be nowhere else. – She doesn’t want to be anywhere else.
9. Form the Past Tense by Adding –ed to Verbs
To make the past tense form of regular verbs, just add the ending –ed. However, be careful as there are many irregular verbs which have their own rules.
Ex. We kissed at midnight. (kiss)
Ex. She thought that she was right. (think)
10. Remember the Structure of Questions
When you want to ask questions, you should follow the exact word order which includes starting the question with the following verbs:
- “to be” – use the right form of the verb “to be” according to the subject in the sentence. It can be “am”, “is”, or “are”.
Ex. Is she okay?
Modal verbs – these include can, could, may, might, shall, and should.
Ex. Shall we dance?
- Auxiliary verbs – if the sentence contains an auxiliary verb, make sure you use it in the beginning. These include the verbs “have” and “to be”.
Ex. Are we there yet?
Ex. Have you seen John?
- “Do” for all other verbs – use “do” to start questions for all other verbs.
Ex. Do you play the piano?
Knowing the basic grammar rules in the English language can help you write and speak the language better and faster. It’s a crucial step to becoming fluent in English.
Image Credit: masterfile.com