How to Learn the Basics of Grammar

1.Know the parts of speech. These are the types of words that make up the language, and they are nouns, adjectives, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, interjections, and sometimes articles.To put sentences together properly, you must understand what the parts of speech are and how they function in sentences.

  • Nouns are the elements that usually perform the action in a sentence, such as a person, place, thing, idea, emotion, animal, or event. Nouns include Sally, Paris,sand , philosophy , happiness, dog, and birthday.
  • Adjectives modify nouns, and describe aspects or characteristics about nouns. Adjectives include red, funny, lazy, large, and short.
  • Pronouns take the place of nouns. There are personal subject pronouns (such as I,she, and they), personal object pronouns (such as us, you, it, and them), personal possessive pronouns (such as mine, yours, his, hers, and theirs), and relative pronouns (such as who, which, that, and whose).
  • Verbs indicate actions or states of being, and tell what the noun is doing. Verbs include run, sing, type, be, and walk.
  • Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, conjunctions, prepositions, and other adverbs. They are words like quickly, well, , and slowly. These words often end in –ly.
  • Prepositions indicate relationships in time, space, or direction. Prepositions includeto, in, on, over, of, and across.
  • Conjunctions join nouns, clauses, phrases, and sentences. Coordinating conjunctions link independent clauses, and they are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, andso (remember FANBOYS). Subordinating conjunctions link dependent clauses, and they include because, if, since, while, and although.
  • Interjections are words that indicate emotions. These include oh, hey, ouch, andwow. They are often followed by exclamation points.
  • Articles are used to modify and define nouns. The is a definite article, and a and anare the indefinite articles.

2.Recognize points of view. In terms of grammatical person, English has three points of view, and each of those can be either singular or plural. The points of view are: singular or plural first-person, singular or plural second-person, and singular or plural third-person. The appropriate pronouns are:

  • First-person singular: I
  • Second-person singular: you
  • Third-person singular: he (masculine) / she (feminine) / it (neuter)
  • First-person plural: we
  • Second-person plural: you
  • Third-person plural: they

3.Use proper word order. English sentences are structured following the subject–verb–object order (such as “Andrea ran to the door,” not “Run to the door Andrea”). In general, articles come before adjectives, and adjectives come before the nouns they modify. Modifiers should always be placed as close to their nouns as possible. For instance:

  • Frank (subject) quickly (adverb) mailed (verb) the (article) long (adjective) letter(object).


4.Conjugate verbs properly. English technically only conjugates the present (“I like”) and past tenses (“I liked”), meaning that English verbs are only inflected (have different forms or endings) for these tenses. However, other verb tenses, such as the future (“I will like”), are created with the help of mood, words that denote time (such as “tomorrow”), and auxiliary (helping) words and verbs. Using the verb “to go” as an example, some of the main tenses in English are:

  • Simple present (uninflected verb, or verb + s/es in third person): I go, you go, he/she/it goes, we go, you go, they go.
  • Present continuous (aka progressive) (am/is/are + present participle): I am going, you are going, he/she/it is going, we/you/they are going.
  • Present perfect (has/have + past participle): I have gone, you have gone, he/she/it has gone, we/you/they have gone.
  • Simple past (verb + –ed for regular verbs): I/you/he/she/it/we/you/they went (“to go” is an irregular verb).
  • Past continuous (was/were + present participle): I was going, you were going, he/she/it was going, we/you/they were going.
  • Past Perfect (had + past participle): I/you/he/she/it/we/you/they had gone.
  • Simple future (will + uninflected verb): I/you/he/she/it/we/you/they will go.
  • Future continuous (will be + present participle): I/you/he/she/it/we/you/they will be going.
  • Future Perfect (will have + past participle): I/you/he/she/it/we/you/they will have gone.

5.Punctuate sentences properly. Punctuation is an important part of language, because it indicates starts, stops, pauses, and relationships. Capitalize the first letter of every sentence, and the first letter of all proper nouns (the names of people and places). The main punctuation marks in English—and their basic uses—are:

  • Commas separate thoughts, ideas, elements, and independent clauses.
  • Periods indicate the end of a sentence.
  • Semi-colons join independent clauses in a single sentence, or separate elements in a list.
  • Colons introduce items in a list, explanations, or definitions.
  • Question marks indicate that a question was posed.
  • Exclamation points show emphasis, imperatives, or declarations.
  • Apostrophes demonstrate possession or create contractions.
  • Quotation marks indicate that you are directly quoting someone else’s words.
  • Hyphens join separate words into compound words, modifiers, and numbers.
  • Dashes create a pause, interrupt a sentence, or add parenthetical information.
  • Parenthesis add additional information, references, or citations.

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